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Tornado buffets the underinsured

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The recent tornado in the London suburb of Kensal Rise has highlighted alarming gaps in people’s building and content insurance cover for such events.

The Government already knows from its Family Expenditure Survey that one in four householders does not have home contents insurance, so it looks likely that some of the 100 families whose homes were damaged by the freak storm will have to shell out their own money to replace and repair damaged items.

Most of the buildings will be covered, as mortgage lenders make this cover compulsory when people take out a homeloan, but having no, or inadequate contents insurance, is a far more serious problem.

Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) explained the distinction between building and content insurance. “If you could turn a house upside down and shake it, anything that fell out would be covered by the contents policy. Building insurance covers the bricks and mortar – contents covers what is inside.”

Some homes have been so badly damaged that residents will have to live elsewhere while surveyors assess the possibility of their repair – a contingency covered by many home insurance UK policies. “But there will be limits,” pointed out Tarling. “Most will cover the cost of alternative accommodation up to a specified limit, perhaps 20% of the sum insured.”



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