Britain's increasingly unsettled weather pattern has led to a sharp rise in the number of complaints about buildings insurance being brought to the independent Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

In 2011 insurers paid our out more than £3bn on claims from the summer floods. This summer alone, 180,000 claims were made to insurers.

Providers had to stump up again for the freak tornado that struck in September.
But the rise in claims has resulted in more disputes ending up at the Ombudsman. In 2007, complaints sky-rockets to 2,516 from 1,908 in the previous year, up a third on last year.

FOS spokeswoman Emma Parker says: 'The majority of claims are being handled well. The biggest issue we are seeing in relation to storms are problems with repairs rather than the whole claim being refused.

'However, there is a steady stream of cases where firms have turned down claims on the basis that there was no storm at the time the damage occurred, or where it is agreed that there was a storm but the evidence indicates that it did not cause or contribute to the damage claimed for.

'The message to consumers is to be realistic. Just because your house was damaged in a storm does not mean that is an excuse to do the whole house up.'

Homeowners are facing three typically problems when claiming for weather-related damage. Insurers first take into account whether what they are claiming for is consistent with the storm damage.

They will also take into account whether it has been proven, weighing up the balance of probabilities that storm conditions prevailed on or around the date the damage occurred.
Only then will, insurers consider whether the storm was the cause of the property’s damage.
Insurers consult local authorities and the Met Office to help establish what the local weather conditions were like when the damage allegedly happened.

They will also take into account whether other houses in that area have undergone comparable damage.

When reviewing a case, the FOS will require insurers to present evidence that supports their declarations that there was no storm.

Trade body the Association of British Insurers says that the number of complaints received last year made it inescapable that there would be an increase in customer complaints.

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