Storm warning – how to protect your home and vehicle

High winds, flooding and falling debris – practical steps on how to prevent storm damage – and what to do if the worst happens.

It’s the autumn storm season and many parts of the UK have already been battered by Storms Agnes, Babet and Ciaran. The high winds, heavy rain and flooding can affect our travel plans and risk storm damage to our homes and vehicles.

But there are practical steps you can take to help minimise damage and to stay safe.

Mark Shepherd, is the head of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI). He had these words of reassurance, saying that whoever your insurance company is, “insurers expect bad weather at any time and their priority is always to help their affected customers recover as quickly as possible.”

A flooded suburban street with a half submerged road closed signCredit: Shutterstock / AC Rider

How to stay safe in a storm

What to do to stay safe when a storm is forecast

You don’t need to have been a member of the Scouts to heed their advice when a storm is forecast: be prepared.

Keep a close eye on weather warnings and follow advice from either The Met Office, The Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales or the Department for Infrastructure, in Northern Ireland.

The experts at Saga Insurance also have these top tips to help keep you, your home and your vehicles as safe as possible.


How to protect your home

Protect your home from storm damage

Plan ahead

Take action before the storm hits. Keep on top of repairs such as loose roof tiles, leaks or loose external fittings. You can also follow the experts’ advice on how to minimise storm damage in your garden.

Clear the drains

If your downpipes end in a clump of mud, grass and stones, clear around your drain and the grate across it. Slow‐flowing drains can cause damp in the long run as well as quickly backing up when heavy rain falls.

Sign up for alerts

If you live on the coast or near a river, you can sign up for flood warnings for your address.

If you are at risk of flooding or have been flooded and are struggling, you can contact the charity National Flood Forum for advice and practical support.

How to protect your car

Keeping safe in your vehicle in a storm

Check your route

If the Met Office has issued a weather warning, ask yourself whether you really need to travel. Can you postpone your trip? If you have to venture out then check your route for flooding before you leave.


Flood water on the road

Always use a low gear and high revs. If there’s water across a main road but it doesn’t reach the bottom of your hubcaps and you can see clear road ahead, you should be fine to drive across.

Wait until it’s clear for you to get to the other side, don’t go above third gear and drive steadily.

A road sign warning of Flood on a waterlogged road with a car driving through itCredit: Shutterstock / gemphoto

Pack wellies and waterproofs

If there is flooding forecast, keep a pair of wellies in the car and a spare waterproof jacket. You may need to get out to check flood water or move branches.

Take it slow and steady

Roads may be littered with branches, trees and debris, so be ready to brake or turn around if the road is blocked.

Avoid aquaplaning

If it feels like the car’s no longer in contact with the tarmac, and the road noise suddenly changes, don’t brake. Instead, ease off the accelerator and keep the steering wheel straight – and you’ll probably glide through it as quickly as it started.

Be seen

In the heaviest downpours, using dipped headlights may not be enough. If there’s a lot of spray on a motorway or dual carriageway, put your fog lamps on through the worst.

Park wisely

If you have a choice of where to park your car, keep it away from mature trees. Avoid parking directly beneath the eaves of a roof in case any loose tiles or chimney pots slide off the edge. If you have a garage then use it so your car will be safe from any debris.

Can I claim for storm damage?

Is storm damage covered by insurance?

Damage caused by storms is normally covered by standard home insurance, commercial business policies, and comprehensive motor insurance.

Shepherd says: “Where properties are damaged by floods or storms, insurers will be on hand to make emergency payments, arrange any temporary emergency accommodation, and make sure the damage is repaired.

“If you suffer damage to your property, contact your insurer as soon as you can for help and advice.”

But he warns to check your policy wording carefully to see exactly what is and isn’t covered. Most policies cover you for roof damage, water damage, sewer back up and damage to your home by fallen trees, but won’t cover you for damage to fences, hedges, gates and sheds.

The experts at Saga Insurance also warn that one of the main reasons for storm claims being declined is where a property is already in a poor state of repair – meaning the damage was likely preventable. It’s another reason to keep on top of household maintenance before a storm hits.

Keep your insurance details to hand

No matter what the weather it’s worth knowing where your insurance policy details are so you can get them quickly. Or even have the claims contact telephone number stored in your phone.

Claiming for storm damage on your home

How to make a home insurance claim

Call the claims number shown on your policy documents. Depending on the type of claim you make, there are different ways your insurance company may deal with it. For minor claims you may need to provide estimates or photographs and other supporting information to enable them to settle your claim directly.

Saga Insurance says: “Avoid moving or clearing up debris until you’ve taken photos of the damage to support your insurance claim.”

For more complex claims, your insurance company may pass you on to its nominated suppliers, who will provide expert assessment of the loss or damage to give you the best possible service.

Claiming for storm damage on your car

How to make a car insurance claim

Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident or incident. Give details of where it happened, what’s happened, who’s been involved and whether you are stranded. Most insurers will get you and your vehicle to a safe location as soon as possible.

If someone else is involved, regardless of fault, give them your insurance company’s details and get theirs in return to pass on to your insurer.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her


Phillipa Cherryson is a senior editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV.

Her passion is outdoor fitness. She’s a trainee mountain leader; an Ordnance Survey Champion; she organises walks and instructional events for South Wales members of online community the Adventure Queens and she’s vice chair of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Local Access Forum.

She hated sports at school and only started getting the fitness bug as she reached her 50s. Now she loves mountain walking, trail runs, e-biking, paddleboarding and climbing. She also loves cake.

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