Extreme weather events: know your risk and make sure you are covered
Having recently weathered heavy winds, excessive rain and flooding, the usual patterns seen ever since accurate weather records have been kept from the 19th century onwards are now changing. Weather events, specifically winds and rainfall, are more severe and less predictable.
Here is what you need to do:
- Make careful and regular checks on the condition of your property. Don’t wait for a disaster to reveal the problems you had not noticed.
- Make sure you know the risks that can be measured and prepare accordingly.
- Put plans in place to reduce the impact of risks that can be anticipated.
- Consult with your broker to make sure you are covered for things that can happen. Don’t assume that your coverage is sufficient for all eventualities.
Bearing in mind that the main risks are wind and rain (or snow), careful inspection of the exterior of the property is a first step.
Check that the roof and guttering are free from moss, leaves, repair problems – anything that can result in blockages or leaks.
Check that windows and doors are in good condition and the weather seals are working. Remember that trees, garden furniture and any exterior additions like solariums, carports or greenhouses can be a problem themselves if they are damaged and cause debris to hit the main building or obstruct floodwater from draining away.
Also check exterior electrical and water connections that can also become damaged from wind, rain or very low temperatures.
Whereas frost, wind and rain can’t be predicted reliably (although forecasts will give useful warnings), the government does offer an important guideline for flood risk here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk
This helps you prepare for what is typically the most serious risk.
Probably the other risks that can be as serious as flooding are loss of electricity supply and inability to use local roads. You need to have supplies and plans in place to cope with that. Loss of water supply is a less common but equally devastating risk.
The fine print
While an insurance policy provided by professionals will cover much, if not all, the above risks, remember that there are consequential expenses resulting from cleaning up after a disaster or loss of income if you have to stop work to deal with a disaster.
When you have reviewed all the above, sit down with your broker and see whether additional or alternative cover might be a good idea.
Don’t make easy assumptions
There are two main mistakes that need to be avoided.
The first is assuming that something will not happen because it never happened before. With changing weather patterns and more extreme events happening more often, making that assumption can be disastrous.
The second is assuming an existing policy covers everything. This might not be the case. Consult with your broker to make sure your cover is sensible, given what the risk profile is, and as comprehensive as you can afford.