Recent spells of severe weather have seen the UK endure three named storms in quick succession:
- Storm Dudley hit on the 16th and 17th February 2022.
- This was followed by Storm Eunice on the 18th February 2022, which bought with it unprecedented wind speeds of up to 122mph in some areas.
- Storm Franklin closely ensued three days later, hammering parts of the UK with further strong winds and heavy rain.
The catastrophic weather has caused widespread damage, with insurers in the UK reporting an increase in calls as a result of the damage to property which has been caused by the recent storms
For those with insurance policies in place, it is the insurance provider who individuals and companies will now be turning to if they have suffered loss stemming from damage to their home or commercial premises. Such losses may arise from physical damage to the property or may extend to claims flowing from interruption to business.
Whilst it is too early to know the exact cost of the damage caused by the recent storms, the Association of British Insurers has warned that the last significant storms in the UK cost insurers around £360 million in repairs. Storms Ciara and Dennis hit the UK in February 2020 and wind damage from those alone resulted in insurers paying out in the region of £138 million in respect of property repairs alone. This was comprised of 61,000 domestic property claims totalling circa £77 million and 9,000 commercial property claims totalling approximately £61 million.
Given that Storm Eunice was one of the worst storms the UK has seen in a generation, it is anticipated insurance companies will once again be paying out in the hundreds of millions of pounds. Mohammed Khan, the General Insurance Leader at PwC UK has said that ‘based on the high winds which have led to damage to homes and commercial buildings plus extensive travel disruptions, we estimate that the insurance losses for Storm Eunice will be between £200 million to £350 million’.
Putting the heightened impact of the recent storms aside, the increase in the inflation rate together with construction costs will only increase the cost of any property damage.
If your property or business premises has suffered damage due to the recent storms and you have the benefit of insurance, then it is fundamental you have an understanding of the terms of your insurance policy. Should your policy cover you in the event of damage caused by an insured peril, such as flooding or storms, then it is key you take the following steps:
Notify your insurer as soon as is practical.
Most policies will require a claim to be made within X amount of days, rendering your ability to claim void should you make a claim out of this timeframe.
Ensure you carefully evidence the damage that has occurred
You should take photographs, video or other evidence to properly document the damage that your property has suffered. It is also best practise to ensure that a representative from your insurer inspects the damage – insurance providers will often send a loss adjuster to the property to inspect and report. It is particularly imperative to ensure you photograph damage prior to undertaking any remedial works or disposing of any damaged items.
Temporary repair / Protection works
If necessary and the damage requires urgent attention, make arrangements for temporary repairs to prevent the damage from worsening. You will be under an obligation to mitigate your losses and you should document any temporary or other remedial works which are carried out, ensuring receipts are retained as these will form part of any valid claim.
Obtaining independent advice on how best to proceed from a legal and loss perspective may be necessary. You may wish to instruct your own loss assessor or independent expert to assist with assessing the amount and value of the damage. This is particularly the case where damage has been significant / there are multiple aspects to the loss that you believe that you have suffered (e.g. damage not just to property but also to stock, equipment, interruption to business etc).
The team at IBB Law LLP is well placed to offer support at whatever stage you may be at if your property or business premises has been damaged as a result of the recent storms or in the event of some other physical damage such as fire or flood.