Claims to insurance companies due to exceptional weather
Most of the time, in cases of extraordinary weather conditions, damages to your house will be covered by your house insurance. In special cases certain damages will be covered by a semi-public organisation called Consorcio de Compensación de seguros (CCS in short).
The Consorcio de Compensación de seguros (in English: Insurance Compensation Consortium) is a department of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (through the Directorate General of Insurance and Pension Funds), which is responsible for covering those insured with private companies when the causes of the incidents are a matter of extraordinary circumstances :
- Natural phenomena: Floods, tsunami, earthquakes, seaquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, atypical cyclonic storms and falling meteorites.
- Violent consequence of terrorism, rebellion, sedition, riot or uprisings.
- Deeds or actions by the Armed Forces or the Security Forces in times of peace.
Statistics show that the most common extraordinary damage in Spain is flooding as a result of rainfall, melting snow, from lakes ,estuaries or when a river breaks its banks . Also common is the rise of coastal waters, even if there is no flooding.
Not considered ‘extraordinary damage’ are the result of rainfall falling directly on the insured risk, or water collected by the roof or roof terrace; neither is the flooding occasioned by the breakage of dams, canals, sewerage systems, water collectors or other artificial subterranean water courses (unless such breakage is a direct consequence of an extraordinary event described above).
Cyclonic storms are defined as storms with winds gusts exceeding 120 Km/hr (for examples tornadoes).
From whom should you claim?
The first thing to have is a well-defined insurance policy that will clearly specify the covered risks and compensation, both for the property structure and the property contents.
From whom should you claim? If the water infiltrates the property from bottom to top (for example from the street or from the garages into the house) you will have to address the claim to the CCS. If the water infiltrates the property from top to bottom (for example from the roof or terraces) you will have to claim compensation from your insurance company.
If the water infiltrations are caused by the neighbours you can file the claim with your insurance company and they will contact the neighbours. If the neighbours does not allow the surveyor access to their property, you can make your claim in court. Take into account that if the water penetrates the house through doors or windows that are not properly closed (or with defective seals) the insurance companies will not compensate for any damage nor will compensation be given if there are construction defects or where the building is not properly maintained.
How to proceed?
In the case of CCS claims a special form has to be requested from your insurance company, an insurance payment receipt and the insurance policy have to be provided. The declaration will have to be done within 7 days from the ascertainment of the damage, by sending the documents by fax to the local CCS office.
It is important to keep all the items that have been damaged or deteriorated until the arrival of the insurance company surveyor. If you have thrown any objects away before the surveyor arrives, then you should document everything in an inventory and take photographs to prove their existence and the extent of damage. The CCS surveyor may take several days or even weeks to come and inspect the damage after receiving the claim. If you do not have clear evidence of the damaged objects then the compensation will be proportionately reduced. Remember that CCS covers vehicles damages even if you only have third party insurance.
If you have to claim from your own insurance company the damage has to be reported within seven days from the ascertainment, and the same procedures have to be followed as for the CCS claim, ensuring that a proper inventory and photographic documentation of perished objects is included.
Very important: if the compensation payment is delayed beyond 40 days you have the right to ask for interest for late payment (see Insurance Contract Act of 1980).
In many cases the amount the insurance company offers to pay is much lower than the claim; in this case it will be necessary to seek legal advice in order to file a claim in court. Your lawyer will be able to arrange for a report from a surveyor and take care of the necessary procedures for a successful claim in a legal process.