How to protect your property during the autumn storm season[Dagmar Gilden | 01.10.2021 :]
Balcony windows broken, power lines downed, cars and roofs damaged and windows shattered by flying garden furniture and trampolines are just some of the most common consequences of autumn storms. One of Seesam’s experts in this area offers advice on how to protect your home.
“In terms of the damage that’s being wrought to people’s homes, it’s fair to say that in recent years the storms we’ve been getting in autumn have become increasingly severe and unpredictable,” says Seesam’s Head of Property Insurance Dagmar Gilden. “The sheer cost of the damage is proof of the fact that strong winds and lashing rain constitute a significant threat to people, their homes, their cars and other property.”
The storms that raged last autumn resulted in almost 300,000 euros in claims for Seesam’s Home Insurance department. The largest single claim was for a private home struck by a falling pine tree, which not only damaged much of the roof covering but also the roof structures of the house, along with its chimney. This claim alone amounted to 11,000 euros.
“Wind was the cause of the biggest claim we’ve received so far this year as well, which tore off part of a roof and brought a tree down in a garden,” Gilden explains. “Restoring all of that cost more than 20,000 euros. And the average cost of claims this year for damage caused by storms has been 1300 euros, which is 25% higher than last year. Partly that’s down to the rising cost of construction materials, but also to the weather quite literally blowing hot and cold.”
Gilden says that autumn winds most frequently cause damage to roofs and fences and to cars parked under trees. Also common are accidents involving garden furniture and trampolines, which unsecured are often thrown about by storm winds, breaking windows and damaging small buildings. Strong gusts can also rip cladding from the walls of buildings and damage wind turbines. Gilden says that claims for damage to balcony glass are also on the rise, since more and more people are installing hammock chairs on their balconies and terraces, often leaving them hanging for the whole year, dangerously close to windows: with the arrival of the first winds, the result is broken glass.
To avoid the aforementioned types of damage and the inconvenience that comes with them, the highly experienced Gilden has put together a set of guidelines to help home owners protect their property and themselves from storm damage.
Allow garden furniture to overwinter indoors
Anything free-standing in a garden – outdoor furniture, trampolines, play sets – should be put away at the end of summer. Left in yards and on balconies and terraces, such items tend to take to the air with a strong wind behind them, breaking windows and landing on cars and small buildings. Hammock chairs and other swings, which have become enormously popular during the pandemic, should also be stored away or at the very least securely affixed upon the change of seasons. If not, they could shatter the glass in balcony doors and windows.
Close all doors, gates and windows
Closing the doors and windows in your house and the gates outside might seem obvious, but if not done properly, the wind can easily whip them away straight into the path of (for example) parked cars. Unsecured doors and windows damaged during storms are often a problem in the countryside.
Power outages and fluctuations caused by wind can stop home appliances from working, or working properly. In a storm, your best line of defence in this regard is to unplug them.
Keep cars (and yourself) away from trees
Wherever possible, park cars away from trees and posts. You should also stay away from them yourself (keeping indoors) in a gale, because they present even more of a danger to people.
Check any trees growing close to your house every year, pruning or even removing them if necessary. Trees blown around by strong winds can send branches flying, breaking the windows and scratching the paintwork on cars and damaging the roofs of buildings.
Give your roof some TLC
Strong winds and heavy rain can ruthlessly reveal the weak points in your roof. Gales can tear strips off a roof covering, send tiles flying or damage the entire roof and even its basic structure. Before the storm season arrives, it’s best to check your roof (and the roofs of any smaller buildings) and repair or reinforce any points that seem to need it. Heavy rain can also get inside – through a roof, without necessarily harming it in the process – and damage your interior finish and home contents.