The UK has been battered by storm after storm in recent winters. Scientists predict flooding events and strong winds could get worse in the years ahead, so it’s important to know: am I covered for storm damage? And how do I claim if disaster strikes?
In this Cuvva guide, we look at the different types of weather warnings, what counts as storm damage, if it’s covered by insurance, and how to claim for it. We also share some top tips for driving safely in stormy conditions (but only if you really need to go out).
The UK’s Met Office issues weather warnings whenever there’s a threat to people or property, or disruption to travel. Stormy weather can include gales and strong winds, heavy downpours, flooding, hail, thunderstorms, and snowstorms.
Met Office weather warnings come in three colours: yellow, amber and red.
Yellow: Yellow is the lowest level warning, issued when there could be travel disruption or low-level impacts in a few places. Yellow warnings are also issued when there could be more widespread impacts, but the forecast is less certain.
Amber: An amber warning is a sign that you should change your plans and take steps to protect yourself and your property. Severe weather could disrupt your plans and cause travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and even potential risk to life and property.
Red: Red warnings mean there’s a danger to life and they are issued quite rarely in the UK. It means dangerous weather is on its way and could cause severe disruption to travel, infrastructure, energy supplies and property. It’s important to follow the advice of emergency services in this situation.
Stormy conditions are bad news for drivers – and not just when you’re on the road. Even your parked car could get hit by a fallen tree or a loose roof tile dislodged by strong winds. Flooding or high water can cause engine damage, while large hailstones can leave nasty dents in your bodywork. Your car could even get struck by lightning.
The good news is that these types of bad weather events are usually considered “an act of God”. This means your insurance company won’t hold you responsible for repairs. Most comprehensive insurance policies include cover for storm damage as standard. If you have third party insurance, you might not be covered.
There are other cases where you might not be covered either. If your insurance company believes you are at fault because you broke the law or drove recklessly – like driving through flood waters when there were clear warnings in place – they might not pay out. This is called “contributory negligence”. It’s important to follow all local advice during weather warnings, and take care to protect yourself and your car, wherever possible.
If your car suffers any kind of storm damage, call your insurance company to report it right away. Take lots of photos and collect as much evidence as possible to back up your claim.
Your insurer will ask for details about the weather conditions, location, and time of the event. They will check this information against local news reports and forecasts. It is not against the law to drive during a yellow, amber, or red warning, so you will usually still be covered for storm damage. In most cases you’ll just need to ensure that you did not put yourself or your car in unnecessary danger.
The best advice for driving during a storm or when there’s a weather warning is to avoid being on the road in the first place.
If you really have to go out, listen to local weather and traffic reports so you can avoid roads that are flooded or blocked by fallen trees or accidents.
Drive slowly and carefully and if you get caught in a very heavy downpour or hailstorm, try to pull over and stay in your car until it eases up.
For tips on driving in icy conditions, check out this helpful Cuvva guide.
If you find yourself in very high or rising waters, remember that your own safety and the safety of your passengers is more important than anything. Prioritise yourself above your car and leave it if you need to.
If you aren’t planning to be on the road, there are still things you can do to protect your car. Park in a garage, if you have one. And if you’re in a flood risk area, it’s a good idea to move your car to higher ground until the weather clears.
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