If you are from an older generation, you may remember the term ‘act of God’ sometimes being used within insurance policies. An act of God was always considered something to fear if you wished to make a property insurance claim for weather damage. Biblical sounding and seemingly impossible to circumvent, it was often taken to mean that, if property damage occurred because of a natural disaster, it would be difficult to negotiate a successful insurance claim, because an act of God was responsible for the damage and the unpredictability of that situation make it impossible to insure against.
Luckily, this terminology is no longer used and, if you do find the words ‘act of God’ in your insurance policy, you have a rare edition. As the Association of British Insurers (ABI) says, “most insurance policies do not contain an exclusion for acts of God.”
What is the definition of an act of God?
The dictionary definition of an act of God is, “a natural event that is not caused by any human action and cannot be predicted.” In this sense, a weather event is a perfect example and acts of God have always been associated with floods, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, cyclones and other weather phenomena. A fire, on the other hand, is not an act of God, as you could predict that a fire might start, if certain human actions took place.
Why do people still refer to acts of God?
Despite acts of God no longer being mentioned in the majority of home buildings and contents insurance policies, homeowners do still search for the term ‘act of God’ and that is not surprising. Many properties are proven to only flood once every 75-200 years or more, so it is highly possible that an older homeowner has never experienced a flood before. Recent weather events, such as Storm Dennis in February 2020 and Storm Cristophe, just a month ago in January 2021, may have been the first experience of flooding that some of us have ever known.
The likelihood of being a first-time victim of flooding is increased by the fact that, in many instances, flooding is not caused by burst riverbanks or coastal tidal swells but by surface water – something also known as ‘flash flooding’. Flash floods can occur in any area, at any time, when an intense downpour of rain occurs in a short period of time. In this sense, they are random and can affect very localised geographic areas. They also often occur when ground, already saturated by one weather event, receives another bout of torrential rain and drainage systems simply cannot cope. You could call this, two successive acts of God!
What has replaced an act of God in home insurance policies?
The answer to this is nothing, as such. Your home buildings or contents insurance policy, or your commercial buildings insurance policy, will have policy wording that includes certain terms, conditions and exclusions. Any standard property insurance policy should not exclude cover for weather events like floods or storms, but you should always check the policy exclusions and make sure you are happy with them. They are the ‘small print’ that can catch you out, if you are unaware of them or do not understand what they mean.
Homeowners who live in flood plains and areas most susceptible to flooding, may well have their insurance arranged through the Flood Re scheme (2016), run by insurers and the government together. It protects insurers against potentially huge flood-related losses in high-risk localities, so they can continue to offer affordable premiums to homeowners living in those flood zones. It does not, however, cater for businesses.
What should I do, if I can’t get an insurer to pay my flood or storm damage claim?
Insurance policy terms and conditions can often be ambiguous and open to interpretation and claims are often declined or down-sized within grey areas. Homeowners can legally appoint their own representatives for this reason. A loss assessor – like Aspray – can negotiate on their behalf and be brought in even if the claim has been turned down. Having an expert review your policy wording and assess your entitlement makes great sense and, if you allow Aspray to instruct and manage its vetted contractors, to handle the property reinstatement process, there is no charge for the service.
Acts of kindness
Whilst you will be hard-pressed to find acts of God mentioned in your insurance policy and unlikely to have it cited as a reason to turn down your claim, there are other acts you should benefit from, if you instruct an Aspray loss assessor. Our team is renowned for acts of kindness, above and beyond the call of duty, and these are the little touches that often set our service apart.
If those little touches could make all the difference to you, a loved one or a friend who has suffered storm or flood damage – or any other property impact – please get in touch with us. We will be in your corner at every stage of the claims and repair process and strive to do all we can to make things as smooth and comfortable for you.
There is no charge to you, the policyholder, for the award winning Aspray service, provided that we use our own vetted contractors to complete the repairs. However, any excess amount stated within your insurance policy, will still apply.
Call us on 0800 077 6705, if you need our help.