What can you do to prepare your home for a storm?

With the nights getting darker and the weather worsening, Andrew Moore, Home Claims Director at RSA UK, shares some tips on weather-proofing your home.

12 January 2021

Some of the most severe home insurance claims we receive are caused by bad weather such as floods and storms. We can’t control the weather, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to prepare your home for storms, which can help to prevent or mitigate damage if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Although bad weather can come at any time, we typically see as many storm claims in the first three months of the year as we do in the remaining nine months, with nearly half (46%) of the storm claims we received between 2016 – 2019 falling in January, February and March.

So it is really important that you’re prepared, particularly in these months, and it’s also a good idea to (quite literally) fix the roof while the sun is shining. Here are some tips on what you could do to make sure you’re ready, whatever the weather.

Protecting your home against storm damage

Check your roof

The most common claim we receive following a storm is for roof damage, so it is important to check your roof every year for any missing or damaged tiles. You should be able to do this safely from the ground by using binoculars and looking for any cracks or gaps. If there are any cracks or gaps, you should get these professionally repaired as soon as possible to prevent strong winds from getting underneath the tiles and causing more damage. MORE THAN has helpfully published a guide with more information on maintaining your roof.

Checking your chimneys

Damage to chimneys is also common following a storm. Any small pre-existing problems like cracked bricks, missing chimney caps or damaged flashing can be made worse by a storm, causing much bigger problems, so it is important to fix any faults as soon as possible.

Garden furniture

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and, if a storm is coming, make sure you put any loose garden furniture somewhere secure, such as in your shed or garage – this might include flowerpots, hanging baskets, chairs, tables, bins, trampolines, garden gnomes and more. Storing these items somewhere safe when the weather worsens will prevent the wind from blowing them into your house/windows and causing damage.

Don't forget your hedges and fences

Damage to fences and hedges caused by storm isn’t covered by most home insurance policies, so it is worth making sure that these are secure. Shake your fence posts every so often to check if they’re stable and prune any overhanging branches.

Will your gutters and drains cope?

Regularly check your gutters and drains to make sure there isn’t any debris or blockages.

Safety first

Be careful if you’re making any repairs, particularly if you’re doing something you’ve not done before as you could injure yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need to.

What to do during a storm

Look out for your family

Make sure you and your family are indoors when the storm hits and don’t try to make any last-minute repairs during the bad weather, as this could be dangerous.

Emergency kits

Prepare an emergency kit and keep it close by – the kit could include blankets, drinking water, a torch and information on how to safely turn off your electrics, gas and water. It’s also important to include your home insurance policy number and the contact number for your insurer (which can be found in your insurance policy documents), just in case you need to make a claim. It’s good practice to save your insurer’s contact number in your phone too.

Charge your phone

Make sure your phone is fully charged in case you have a power cut and you need to contact anyone in an emergency.

Take notice of flood warnings

If there are flood warnings in your area or your house is prone to flooding, you could put sandbags in front of your doors to prevent water from entering the house and move electrical or sentimental items upstairs. If water starts to enter the house, turn off your gas, water and electricity mains, but only if it is safe to do so – there’s a risk you could be electrocuted if you touch wet electrical appliances, switches or cables, so please make sure they are dry and, if you’re unsure, seek professional advice.