Insurers could pay out hundreds of millions of pounds after Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin

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Record-breaking winds could lead to record-breaking insurance payouts as the dust settles after several days of devastating storms across the country.  If you live in one of the hardest-hit areas, you may be left dealing with serious property damage and the prospect of an unexpected repair bill. Your insurer might cover you for this damage but if you’ve never made a claim before it can seem like a daunting task. Here, Which? sets out what you need to consider when making a claim on your home insurance.

Is making a home insurance claim worth it?

You might be hesitant about making a claim if you are worried about the potential impact on your home insurance premiums in the future. However,  the cost of repairing the damage yourself might not be viable given the extreme damage these storms have caused in some areas.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says it’s too early to estimate Storm Eunice’s and Franklin’s likely cost to insurers, but it notes that payouts from Storms Ciara and Dennis earlier in the year topped £360m. After those two storms, the insurance comparison website Compare the Market found storm-related claims averaged £3,500 each. It’s worth checking if you have to pay an excess before your insurer will pay out, to help you decide if it’s worth making a claim.

Typically the nearer the claim amount is to your excess, the more negligible the benefit is in claiming. Whether you choose to claim or not, be alert at renewal time. If your home insurance premium has soared, consider switching to a new provider or haggle with your current one for a better deal.

When should I launch my claim?

You should contact your insurer as soon as possible if you’ve suffered storm damage. Many insurers will give you up to 180 days to make a claim on your home insurance, but delaying a claim could mean the damage gets worse. Most insurers will have 24-hour emergency numbers you can call for advice and help arranging rapid repairs. You can find these numbers on your insurer’s website or in the contact details that came with your policy. If your home is uninhabitable, insurers should arrange and pay for temporary accommodation while repairs are carried out.

Which insurer do I contact?

Sadly there are a number of different ways the recent extreme weather could have harmed your property. If you have policies with different insurers, make sure you know who to contact for what.

If you own your home, your buildings insurance policy should provide cover for damage to the building itself. If you rent your home, your landlord is responsible for this. For any individual possessions that were damaged by the storm, you should turn to your contents insurer, which may be different to your buildings insurer.

Find out more: contents insurance explained What evidence will I need? You may need photographic evidence to back up your claim, so take pictures of everything that you can and have them on hand should your insurer ask for them. Just make sure you don’t put yourself in danger while you’re taking them.

The ABI says you should keep anything that was damaged in the storm in case it can be repaired. What if I fix something myself? If you had to make a quick fix to your home yourself, let your insurer know what you’ve done and keep the receipts for anything you buy as these can factor into your claim.

Find out more: best DIY shops Will my insurance cover me? Ultimately, insurance claims are decided on a case-by-case basis. The size of any potential payout will depend on the degree of the damage, the cost of repairs, and the level of cover you purchased.

Most home insurance policies will cover storm damage, though some elements of flood damage may be excluded, or require an expensive excess, if you live in a high-risk area.

Find out more: flooding and home insurance explained What if my claim is rejected? If your claim doesn’t pan out as you expect, or you feel that your home insurance provider has treated you unfairly, you can complain.

Speak to your insurer first but, if it isn’t proving helpful (and you have exhausted the complaints process outlined in your policy document), take the matter up with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

You usually have six months from the time you reach deadlock with your insurer in which to make a complaint. Find out more: the best home insurers for claims Compare home insurance quotes Our partner compares prices from more than 50 insurers to help you choose the right one. Get a quote now.

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