Be prepared for storms
With large areas of the UK still recovering from Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin, insurance expert Kevin Pratt, of Forbes Advisor, has revealed his tips for dealing with storm damage, and how people can prepare themselves for more extreme weather:
When a storm - in this case Franklin - is in the weather forecast, that’s a cue to do a few checks around your property and take precautions to minimise the risk of damage.
But first of all, be realistic. Don’t be tempted to clamber onto the roof looking for loose tiles or aerials, or to inspect and clear your gutters - this is work for professionals. If you spot something worrying from the ground, see if a contractor is available at short notice, but don’t put your safety in jeopardy.
Eunice travelled eastwards across the country, so the prevailing winds came from the west. This meant walls facing east should have provided a modicum of shelter.
Check gates, fences, trees and bushes
Lock gates and secure loose panels where you can. See if you can safely remove damaged branches that look vulnerable to windy weather, but always approach such tasks with safety in mind, especially if it involves using a ladder, climbing, or using powered equipment.
Bear in mind also that some trees, including those on private land, can only be removed with the permission of the local authority.
Secure loose items
If you have a garden or balcony, is there anything that could be blown over or damaged? It could be children’s toys and equipment, such as a trampoline, your BBQ, tools and garden furniture. It might also be worth moving window-boxes onto the floor until Franklin has been and gone.
You should also move your rubbish and recycling bins out of the path of the wind if possible, or make sure they are full and heavy enough not to be blown over.
Close your windows
If you routinely have a bathroom window open, for example, close it when the storm arrives to prevent it from flying open and being damaged.
Consider your pets
Your pets probably won’t want to venture out into the storm, so exercise them in advance if you can. They might also be upset by the noise, so be prepared to comfort and reassure them.
Keep stuff handy
It’s worth having a torch, candles and matches and a fully-charged phone to hand in case there’s any interruption to your power supply. In the unlikely event you might have to leave your home in a hurry, make sure you’ve got essentials such as appropriate clothes and footwear and any medications you require.
Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at Forbes Advisor, says Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin could herald a busy few days for the insurance sector: “Homeowners will turn to their insurance policies if their property is damaged - buildings insurance for structural problems, contents cover for damage and loss to belongings.
“If there is damage, it’s important to contact your insurer straight away, so remind yourself where your policy documents are, either filed away or on your computer. And it’s worth taking photographs or a video as a record. Don’t undertake any major repairs or employ a contractor until you’ve discussed the situation with your insurer - they may have a network of their own you can use.
“Don’t throw anything away, again until you’ve cleared things with the insurer.
“If staying in the property is dangerous, your insurance may pay for the cost of temporary accommodation.”
“Home insurance really shows its value in the wake of a storm. If your property is left uninhabitable, your buildings insurance policy may cover the cost of alternative accommodation. You may even be able to claim for the cost of putting your pets into a kennel or cattery if they can’t come with you.
“It’s your contents insurance which will cover the cost of replacing items such as furniture, and other possessions. Buildings insurance covers structural damage.
“If you’re renting, your landlord should have buildings insurance. Contact them as soon as you can so they can give you help and advice.”