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Latest News Protecting your home from storm damage: what do you need to know?

Protecting your home from storm damage: what do you need to know?

Protecting your home from storm damage: what do you need to know?

Storms can cause a huge amount of damage to your home. Strong winds can tear off roof tiles, and falling trees can hit properties and cars. Flying debris can smash windows and doors. Heavy rain can cause water damage and flooding.

What’s more, experts predict that global warming will make storms more common and severe. The damage they currently cause is bad enough. In the aftermath of storms in October and November 2023, insurers expected to pay out an estimated £560 million for damaged homes, businesses, and vehicles. During this period, 48,700 claims were notified, insurers made 1,770 emergency payments worth a total of £5 million and 1,460 families had to be housed in temporary accommodation while their homes were repaired.

While not all storm damage is preventable, it’s certainly possible to mitigate the risk to your property. In this article, we look at the risks storms pose to your property, the steps you can take to protect it, and the insurance options available to you.


What qualifies as a storm in the UK?

The Association of British Insurers defines a storm as ‘A period of violent weather defined as: Wind speeds with gusts of at least 48 knots (55mph)* or; Torrential rainfall at a rate of at least 25mm per hour or; Snow to a depth of at least one foot (30 cm) in 24 hours or; Hail of such intensity that it causes damage to hard surfaces or breaks glass.’

Storms are only given names when they are likely to cause disruption or damage that results in an amber or red warning. Giving storms names helps to communicate the approaching severe weather to the public consistently. This aids people in keeping themselves and their property safe.

There has been a system of naming storms in the UK since 2015. Starting from September in any year, storms are named alphabetically as they occur. So, from 2023 to 2024, storms were named Agnes, Babet, Ciarán, Debi, Elin, Fergus, etc. The names are compiled jointly between the UK’s Met Office, Ireland’s Met Éireann and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). You can even submit your suggestions for storm names.

While naming storms helps alert the public, it’s important to remember that severe weather does occur outside of named storms. So it’s wise to make sure you’re prepared.

Is your property at risk?

Storms can strike anywhere in the UK, so there’s always a chance that your property will be at risk. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be aware if there’s a likelihood of a storm happening in the near future.

There are several ways you can do this. The simplest is to keep an eye on the TV, radio, and other media in case a severe weather alert is issued. You could make it a habit to check the Met Office’s Severe Weather Warnings page for maximum peace of mind. This will tell you if there are any alerts and which regions they apply to. Alternatively, you can check the Met Office’s app or X (formerly Twitter) account. If there are any warnings, they’ll be displayed alongside the relevant day’s weather forecast on the app or tweeted via X.

Flooding often goes hand in hand with storms. To get early warning of any flood risk, you can sign up for flood alerts in the following countries:

You may also find our article on protecting your home from flooding useful in preparing for adverse weather.


Tips for protecting your property from storm damage

The more you do to protect your property from storms, the more you mitigate the risk of loss or damage. These are some of our top tips for protecting your home from storm damage:

  • Check your roof regularly. Inspect your roof for loose or damaged slates and repair any issues promptly to help prevent structural damage or leaks. If you have a flue, get the bricks, mortar, and chimney pots inspected regularly.
  • Inspect doors and windows. Ensure doors and windows fit and close properly and are strong enough to withstand extreme weather.
  • Maintain gates and fences. Ensure fence posts and panels are in good condition and properly anchored and that gates and locks are serviceable. Loose panels and gates can get blown away in a storm and cause further damage.
  • Keep your gutters and pipes clear and secure. Loose gutters and pipes can get blown away, while blocked ones won’t drain water properly. This can cause water to seep into your brickwork, plasterwork, or even foundations.
  • Trim trees and branches. Regularly trim trees and overhanging branches to prevent them from falling onto your property during a storm. This is particularly important if they are near windows, your roof, or power lines.
  • Secure garage doors. Reinforce garage doors to withstand high winds, as they are vulnerable to storm damage.
  • Anchor outdoor structures. If you have outdoor structures like sheds or playhouses, anchor them securely to the ground to prevent them from being lifted by strong winds.
  • Install surge protectors. Protect electronic devices and appliances by installing surge protectors.
  • Invest in a generator. A generator can keep essential appliances running if there’s a power outage.

How to prepare for a storm

If a storm is forecast, there are immediate measures you can take to protect both your home and your family. These include

  • Putting away / securing items in your garden. Secure garden furniture such as tables, chairs, ladders, and children’s toys by putting them in a shed or garage or bringing them inside. If you have larger items like trampolines, anchor them or dismantle them and put them somewhere safe. Don’t forget to secure your bins too.
  • Secure doors and windows. Close all doors and shut and lock windows. Some homeowners invest in impact-resistant windows if they believe they’re at risk of storms. You can also install storm shutters or boards to protect exterior glass.
  • Put cars in a garage if possible. If you don’t have a garage, park away from trees, fences, or any structures that could get blown onto your vehicle.
  • Make sure pets are indoors. Storms pose a threat to pets, so make sure they are safe inside your home.
  • Charge devices. Make sure phones and other devices are fully charged in case you need to summon help.

It’s also a good idea to prepare a storm emergency kit in case of a power outage or if you have to evacuate your home. These are some of the key items you should include:

  • Emergency contact numbers such as for the doctor, local council, or vet.
  • Your insurance documents so you can easily make a claim if your home is damaged or flooded.
  • Canned / non-perishable food so you have enough to eat.
  • Drinking water
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • A first-aid kit
  • Useful tools and sundries such as torches, multi-tools or penknives, lighters or matches.
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Instructions on how to cut off your mains electricity and gas (it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself beforehand).
  • Portable chargers for phones and other devices.
  • Toys for children.

Does home insurance cover storm damage?

Home insurance policies cover storm damage to your property, although exactly what damage they cover will vary from policy to policy. See the FAQs below for a more detailed insight into how home insurance policies work. For a claim to be covered under storm damage, insurers set a minimum wind speed of 56mph – any damage that occurs under this wind speed wouldn’t be covered under storm damage.

You can also back up your home insurance with home emergency cover. If your roof is damaged by a storm, or fallen trees or branches cause water to enter your home, these policies can help you to arrange an emergency repair quickly.

If you are a landlord, you can protect your properties against storm damage with a landlord building insurance policy. This can be combined with a landlord home emergency cover policy.



Does home insurance cover storm damage to fences?

Home insurance won’t usually cover the repair or replacement if your fence is blown over and damaged during a storm.  If your fence is damaged by falling trees or debris this may be covered, depending on your policy.

Does home insurance cover storm damage to a roof?

Yes, provided the roof has been maintained and in good condition before the storm. This is why it’s important to repair or replace loose or missing tiles or other defects as they occur.

Does home insurance cover water damage from storms?

Usually, yes, provided the roof was in good condition beforehand. If the roof has defects and water enters your home, most home insurance policies will cover the water damage but not the cost of repairing the roof. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, though, so be sure to check your policy.

Can you claim on house insurance for guttering?

Yes, if it has been damaged during a storm. For example, you’ll normally be covered if roof tiles fall onto the guttering and break it. As with all claims, you will have to pay the policy excess, so it may be cheaper to arrange a repair yourself.

Is lightning damage covered by insurance?

Yes, lightning damage is covered by home insurance. If you believe your home is at high risk of a lightning strike, installing one or more lightning conductors to your home is sensible. These reduce the risks to your building, electrical systems and family.

Does home insurance cover my belongings?

Home insurance can cover personal belongings (such as watches, electronics, and clothes) while you are out of your home for an additional cost. To make sure your furniture, possessions and valuables are covered in the event of a storm, you need a suitable contents insurance policy.

What if my car or other vehicle is damaged by a storm?

You would need to make a claim under your motor insurance policy.

What should I do after a storm?

After a storm, try and mitigate any loss and prevent further damage. Make any necessary temporary repairs, contact your insurer, and follow any instructions they may give you. Take photos of the damage and obtain a couple of estimates to repair the damage (or use your home emergency cover to arrange a repair). Take photos during and after any clean-up or repairs.

As you’ve seen, storms are getting more common and can cause significant damage to your property. To protect your home, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re prepared for adverse weather and have measures in place before, during, and after a storm. For maximum peace of mind, ensure you have a good home insurance policy that meets your needs (or landlord buildings insurance if you have rental properties).

To get advice on selecting the best home insurance cover for your property, please get in touch with the team at 01603 216399.