Storm, heavy rain and hail: what insurance is responsible for storm damage and how to behave correctly

Storms like last week’s in Sigmaringen can cause extensive damage to homes and cars. Those affected then have to deal with insurance in addition to the cleanup work. But which insurance company is responsible for which damages? And how does it behave correctly in case of damage? Here is an overview of the most important ones.

house damage

  • Damage to the home, such as the roof or windows, may be a case for homeowners insurance. However, storm damage is only accepted if the wind force is at least 8, which corresponds to a speed of 62 km/h or more.
  • If the contents of the home are damaged, home contents insurance usually pays for it. Household items are anything in the house that is not permanently attached to it and could be worn out.

car damage

  • If a car is damaged by hail, comprehensive insurance covers the damage.
  • Even if a tree falls on the car, partial coverage is liable. Another case is when a tree falls onto the road and the driver crashes into it. Then the comprehensive insurance is responsible. However, if the tree was demonstrably rotten before the storm and damaged a car, then the owner of the tree or the tree’s liability insurance is liable.
  • If the car has been damaged by the falling of the tiles, the comprehensive insurance also responds, but only with a high excess.

The Bavarian consumer protection center has also published a detailed description.

Natural events and natural hazards insurance

Certain damages caused by natural events are not covered by homeowners insurance. In the event of damage caused by flooding or heavy rain, for example, the so-called elementary damage insurance kicks in, according to the Bavarian Consumer Advisory Center. “In view of future natural disasters, homeowners should check their insurance policy under insured perils to see if natural hazards are also mentioned,” advises Sascha Straub.

hail damage to car

As with other damage, hail damage should be reported to the insurance company as soon as possible and the damage documented. There is also an obligation to mitigate the damage. This means that the vehicle owner is obligated to minimize damage. For example, broken glass should be covered to prevent further damage from rain, for example. If you violate this obligation, the insurance company may reduce benefits. Previous hail damage must also be declared when selling a car. Otherwise, the buyer could terminate the purchase contract or reduce the price.

DEKRA also has tips for motorists on how to be a better driver in storms and where to avoid.

The correct behavior after storm damage

The consumer care center has the following advice on how to behave in the event of damage:

  • Those affected must report the damage caused to the insurance company immediately. You are also obligated not to do anything that might make it more difficult to determine the damage.
  • The damage must be mitigated as much as possible. This means removing the sources of danger or securing them to the point that no further damage can be done. For example, a damaged roof can be covered or a flooded basement can be emptied. However, broken items should only be disposed of after consulting with the insurance company.
  • You should call the insurer and discuss how to proceed with them. For example, the insurer can tell you whether to send a maintenance crew or to hire one yourself. All agreements must be recorded in writing.
  • Document all damage on camera in as much detail as possible. Damages should be left as they are, ie do not throw away damaged items.
  • Beware of so-called “regulators”. They are usually sent by the insurance company and represent your interests.
  • To avoid misunderstandings, agreements with craftsmen should be made as precisely as possible. It is best to put all appointments and agreements in writing. You should also get multiple estimates. However, the procedure must be agreed with the insurer.

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