How to deal with gale damage
Here’s a typical storm scenario: high winds causing extensive damage to roofs followed by rain causing extensive damage to possessions. Depressing: yes. Predictable? Also yes. But before you get overly stressed there are plenty of practical measures you can take to safeguard you, your family and your property. Here’s what you need to know.
- According to the ABI the average cost of gale damage each year is at least £300 million
- A gale is defined as wind with a speed of 39-46 miles per hour
- According to our data, the most common storm claims are for roofs, aerials, glass, chimneys and building damage.
- The worst storm in British history took place in 1703 when a hurricane ripped across East Anglia killing 8000 people
Preventative measures to take before a gale or storm
- Check your chimney, roof and pointing are in good condition. Also check your aerial and satellite dishes are secure.
- Secure any loose panels on fencing and check your garden gate is in good working order
- Cut down any loose or overhanging branches in your garden, particularly any close to windows or power lines. Remember the responsibility for the safety of trees rests with the owner of the land on which the trees are situated. Also bear in mind that some trees are protected so you may need to speak to your Local Authority before wielding your axe
- Keep gutters free of debris and check that the brackets are not rusted through. Also check the brackets are fixed securely to the fascia board, particularly if the fascia board is showing signs of decay. Please be careful on that ladder though!
- The Met Office has been known to occasionally get it wrong but it’s still a useful resource. Sign up for email alerts, download the smartphone app or follow on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news.
What to do when a gale is imminent
- Move ladders, garden furniture, children’s toys or anything else that could blow around your garden
- Close and securely fasten doors and windows, garage doors and loft trapdoors
- If possible park vehicles in a garage. If not possible park away from trees, walls, fences or buildings which can be weakened during strong gales
- Make sure pets are protected and small outside pets brought inside
- Prepare a storm emergency kit in case you need to leave your home for a while. Pack copies of your home insurance, warm clothes, medicines, a torch and batteries and your mobile phone
- Stay indoors and do not attempt to repair damage outside while the storm is in progress
- If you live in an old house with tall, weak chimney stacks it’s wise to move beds from directly beneath them
- If you're travelling check Highways Agency, Traffic Scotland or Traffic Wales first
What to do after a gale
- Use a plastic sheet or tarpaulin to temporarily patch up damaged parts of the roof that are easily and safely accessible. If extra coverage is needed for higher points, call your insurer – do not attempt to get on the top of the roof yourself.
- Be careful - don’t touch electrical or telephone cables if they’ve blown down or if they’re hanging loose
- Call your insurer as soon as possible. At Aviva we can often settle small claims over the phone and will usually pay for all emergency repairs to prevent damage worsening
- Check in on vulnerable neighbours or relatives and help them make any arrangements for repairs
- List all damage to your property and don’t throw anything away in case it’s needed for the claims process. It’s often helpful to photograph or video the damage
Your home insurance provider will be able to help you after a storm. We have our own network of contractors, claims teams and call centre staff on hand to help customers who might be affected by the stormy weather.
Carole Gallagher, our head of household claims, advises: “Like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and freeze, storms and gales are covered as standard by your home insurance policy. There is no such thing as an“Act of God” exclusion - this is exactly what your insurance covers you for!
"So any damage caused to your property as a direct result of storm force wind and rain is covered AND if you are forced to move out of your home the cost of alternative accommodation is also paid for. We can make separate arrangements for your pets, too!"