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What is it? 

Windstorm is the most damaging of the natural perils covered by property insurers. During major windstorm events the damage can be substantial – considerable losses occur every year in the UK. 

A storm is 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 

*Equivalent to Storm Force 10 on the Beaufort Scale. 

For more information see: 

How to prevent it? 

You can take a number of precautions to prepare for bad weather, such as storms or floods: 

  • A substantial amount of damage occurs because buildings are poorly maintained. On a practical level much can be done to reduce damage by ensuring your property is well maintained and any issues such as loose roof tiles are fixed.   
  • Make sure you have emergency contact numbers for your insurer, local authority and utility companies to hand in a safe waterproof place. 
  • Listen out for bad weather warnings on local radio and TV. 
  • Check the websites of the Environment AgencyScottish Environment Protection AgencyNatural Resources Wales or the Rivers Agency (Northern Ireland) and sign up for their free flood warning service.  
  • Make sure any unsecured items, like ladders in gardens, that can cause damage in high winds are secured. 
  • If you have a car, try and move it away from where flooding is expected. 
  • If you are in a flood risk area try to move valuable or essential items upstairs or to a high place. 
  • Keep a mobile phone with you. 
  • Check if it is safe to use electricity, gas and water supplies. 

The ABI is committed to ensuring the present and future risks posed by storms are managed and prepared for. One of the ABI’s key asks of the construction industry is that planners and builders should ensure new developments are built to withstand increasing windspeeds. Planners and builders should be aware of the need for more wind-resistant construction in specific areas of the country if claims are to be kept to a minimum and residents spared the distress and expense of higher levels of wind damage. 

What to do if it happens? 

If you have suffered storm damage to your property or contents you should: 

  • Do not do anything that will put you or your household at risk. 
  • Only return to your home or business after a storm when it is safe to do so. 
  • Contact your property insurer as soon as possible. Most will have 24-hour emergency helplines, which can give advice on next steps and arrange repairs as quickly as possible. 
  • If necessary, arrange temporary emergency repairs to stop any damage getting worse. Tell your insurer and keep any receipts, as this will form part of your claim. 
  • Do not be in a rush to throw away damaged items, unless they are a danger to health, as these may be able to be repaired or restored. Your insurer will advise. 
  • It can take weeks, sometimes months for a property to fully dry out so do not be in a rush to redecorate. Your insurer can give you advice. 

More information

Storm FAQs