Wind Storm Rejection

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One policyholder’s claim was rejected by the insurance company when it was determined that the damage to her garage roof was not caused by a storm. When the garage roof blew off one day, she assumed that the insurers would pay for the damage like they do during most claims. However, it came as a shock when the claim was rejected on the grounds that the wind that caused the damage was 2mph too slow to be considered as a ‘storm’. The company claimed that they only paid out for storm damage for windows of 47mph or above.

Local news reported that out of 4800 members of the consumer group that had the same policy, more than one in 10 who had made a home insurance claim had found it fully or partly rejected on similar terms. The reason for rejection seemed ridiculous, so the woman contacted the office for further information. She asked them to highlight where her policy specified wind speed was even mentioned. Although they couldn’t find this in her policy or even prove that it existed, they tried their best to maintain their rejection. However, after several letters and calls that disputing the unfairness of the rejection, the claim was eventually paid out instead.

The example highlights some of the common situations where policyholders find themselves with claims that are turned down unexpectedly for reasons that they weren’t expecting at all. In the year to the end of March, the Financial Ombudsman Service had seen a 20 percent increase in the complaints about insurers, which the majority had related to disagreements over claims themselves. There are many consumers who have had claims turned down for similar reasons mentioned in the story above. The lack of a definition to the term of ‘storm’ in many policies often leads to problems between the insurer and the consumer.

One spokesman for the insurance company involved in the story stated, "The insurance market tends to consider a 'storm' as involving violent winds, usually accompanied by rain, hail or snow. A wind speed of 47mph is a standard approach to measuring the wind speed included as part of storm conditions, along with other adverse weather conditions."

If you realize that your property is damaged by extreme weather in the area but your insurer is refusing to pay out, you might want to provide proof of the conditions at the time of the damage. You can call the local news or weather office in your area to gain detailed information about the weather conditions at the time. Of course, the data that will be provided related to insurance claims will not have any expert opinion, it will just be the details of the weather at the time. It will depend on the policy whether or not your insurer will pay the claim, although it will be easier for you to make your claim and prove your case if you have the correct information to validate your points.