Contents and personal liability

Storms – how to navigate the claims process with ease

INFORMATION
|
Storms frequently flood not only houses and streets, but also motorway slip roads.
Ominous thunder, lightning and gales – for days, storms have been ravaging large parts of Switzerland. Some storms have resulted in damage worth many millions. Whether due to lightning, hail or flooding – the consequences of storm damage are often disastrous for residents. Material damage usually brings financial difficulties in its wake. The resulting psychological stress is also enormous. This makes it all the more important for your home contents insurance to offer quick, professional and straightforward assistance. Here, comparis.ch summarizes the key points for smooth claims handling.

 

Claims notifications: What is the best way to do this?

Despite the relatively long waiting times following major weather events, it is a good idea to report storm damage to your home contents insurer by telephone. This is the quickest way to have the damage assessed and receive assistance from the insurer. Most insurers also provide an online form for claims notifications. This has the advantage that documents such as damage lists, photos and receipts can be attached and sent directly. However, insurance companies' response times tend to be longer in this way than on the telephone.

Below you will find the online claims forms (where available) and claims hotlines of the various insurance companies:

AXA Winterthur (0800 809 809), baloise direct (00800 24 800 800), CSS Insurance (0844 277 277), Generali (0800 82 84 86), Helvetia (+41 58 280 30 00), Die Mobiliar (00800 16 16 16 16), smile.direct (0800 848 488),  Zurich (0800 80 80 80), ELVIA (0800 666 222), Visana (0800 800 688).

 

What assistance is provided by home contents insurance?

Many insurance companies have a wide network of service partners who can provide prompt assistance in the event of storm damage. Home contents insurance also normally covers the costs of such assistance. In such challenging damage situations, you are entitled to receive assistance from the insurance company. If your home contents insurer does not propose assistance directly, it is best to enquire with them about the following professional services: clean-up and restoration assistance (often helpful for recording damaged items), drainage assistance, building drying, carpentry service, electricians, odour neutralization, waste disposal service.

What needs to be documented?

To ensure claims are paid as quickly and fully as possible, it is best to record all damaged objects in a damage list that also includes the purchase date, (brand) and price. It is advisable to take photos that show the extent of the damage. For valuable items, you will need to provide proof of purchase. IMPORTANT: When submitting the damage list, you should also include your payment details so that the funds can be transferred.

Does a claims inspector need to visit?

For major claims, most insurance companies require a claims inspector to examine the damage. This has the advantage that the damage can be recorded and assessed on site. You can then give your receipts and damage lists directly to the specialist. But what if the inspector can only come in a week's time? It is naturally not reasonable for you to remain literally stuck in the mud for so long in a flooded residence. In this case, you should obtain consent from the home contents insurer to begin cleaning up before the inspector arrives.

What options do I have if I am unsatisfied with claims handling?

Most insurance companies do their best to ameliorate the negative experience of “storm damage” In addition to quick and simple claims handling, some insurers provide the option of moving to a hotel for a few days. Others enable you to get psychological support free of charge following the event. However, if you are still unhappy with claims handling overall, it is best to bring this up with the insurance company directly so that you can express your own personal wishes.

GOOD TO KNOW: After the claim has been paid, you have the option of changing your home contents insurer (termination within 14 days following notification of the claims payment). This is an opportunity not only to save money but also to consider service quality, which is an equally important factor when choosing an insurance product. The latter aspect usually first becomes evident in an “emergency”. It therefore pays to compare contents insurance products at comparis.ch. You can also request free, no-obligation quotes at the same time.

Overview of insured storm damage

  • Storm winds over 75km/h: Can cause damage to objects standing outdoors. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • Hail: Mostly causes damage to glass objects or vessels outdoors. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • High water: Water (e.g. stream) that reaches or exceeds the high water mark due to precipitation. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • Flooding: Dry areas (e.g. forecourt) that are flooded due to precipitation. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • Rockfall: Stones falling from a rock face. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • Landslides: Movement of earth down a slope, caused by excessive moisture in the ground. Deductible generally: CHF 500.
  • Rainwater coming through the roof: Rainwater that enters a building due to leaks in the roof or gutters. Deductible generally: CHF 200.
  • Groundwater: Rising groundwater that enters a building through the floor. Deductible generally: CHF 200.
  • Backed up drains or sewers: Water that has backed up because of a blocked outlet (e.g. manhole). Deductible generally: CHF 200.
  • Lightning: Can cause damage to devices connected to the power supply. Deductible generally: CHF 200.