Berlin/Hamburg (dpa/tmn) – Overcrowded cellars, unusable houses, cars standing under water: floods and heavy rains threaten the livelihood of many residents in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. Those affected not only face clean-up jobs, but also the question of whether their insurance will cover the damage.
Because storm damage to real property is not automatically covered by residential building or home contents insurance. Pure home contents or building insurance typically does not cover damage from torrential rain or flooding. If you also want to insure your house or apartment against this, you also need natural hazard insurance. As a general rule, these are not available separately, but only as an addition to an existing home contents or residential building insurance.
What factors determine the price?
“The amount of the insurance premium depends on several factors, such as the value of the house, the type of construction or the location,” says Claudia Frenz, of the Association of Insured (BdV). Homes in risky situations are often only insured at a high premium. A high deductible is often agreed here to achieve an affordable regular charge.
Homeowners can purchase natural hazard insurance for almost any type of home. The General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) estimates that 99 percent of German private homes can be “insured without any problems”. Therefore, it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, that no protection is possible. Insurance is always expensive when the risk of flooding is particularly high. “But especially here, natural hazard insurance is strongly recommended,” says BdV’s Frenz.
Correctly assess individual risk
Property owners and tenants can determine their natural disaster risk on a GdV portal at www.naturinstrumente-check.de. The online platform shows what damage storms have caused in the past in your own place of residence, how many buildings in the region were affected last year, how high was the costliest damage from heavy rain, storms or hail and what the risk of flooding is.
Insurance doesn’t always pay. For example, if all the windows were open during a heavy rain and storm. “It always becomes difficult when the insured has disregarded elementary precautionary measures”, says Christian Ponzel of the GDV. In this case, the insurance company may cover only part of the costs. For this reason, BdV’s Frenz advises to ensure that the “gross negligence” objection to the insurance fee is waived when entering into the contract.
Even if the car is under water.
Partial comprehensive insurance can cover storm damage to your car, mobile home, or trailer. This applies to damages for which third parties cannot be held responsible, according to the Association of Insureds (BdV).
For example, after floods, storms, hail, lightning or fire, there is protection in case of damage, destruction, total loss or loss of the vehicle and the insured parts. The replacement cost of the vehicle is fully insured. Depending on the BdV, different deductibles can be agreed depending on the rate. If you only have mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance, you must pay for the damage out of your own pocket.
Some extreme risks may require additional protection
With an all-risk insurance, all-risk protection is already included, adds the General Association of the Insurance Industry (GDV) and restricts: Avalanches, landslides and subsidence often have to be insured separately. But it depends on the rate, some providers already ensure this extra protection.
The agreed deductible for comprehensive insurance is due, according to Christian Siemens of the GDV. But in the no-claims class of comprehensive insurance you won’t be promoted: “There it is in the area of partial insurance included, for which there are no no-claims classes.”
Document the damage and report it to the insurance company right away.
“The best thing is that those affected document the damage, for example with a cell phone camera, and then contact the insurer as soon as possible,” advises Siemens, to then discuss how to proceed. Those affected must also make a list of the damage and have the vehicle documents ready, adds the BdV.
Consequential damage should be kept as low as possible after the storm. This can be, for example, covering a broken windshield to protect the interior from rain. Those affected should not risk anything. To secure belongings, risky rescue attempts should be avoided at all costs, according to the GDV.
Vehicle owners are also more vigilant in advance and avoid potential dangers. For example, anyone who parks their car on the harbor dock despite a flood warning may be acting with gross negligence and will only be compensated for part of the damage, reports the BdV.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:210715-99-397385/2
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