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Will my Austrian home insurance cover storm damage?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Will my Austrian home insurance cover storm damage?
Austria has once again been hit with severe storms and heavy rain, after being battered several times already in 2023 by severe weather. (Photo: GERT EGGENBERGER / APA / AFP)

Severe storms have hit Austrian cities in recent weeks, and experts say extreme weather events will only become harsher and more frequent as the climate crisis worsens. What are your rights when it comes to insurance claims?

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Austria has been hit by severe storms in recent summers, and the cost of the damages have increased yearly, now amounting to about €1 billion every year, according to the Austrian Insurance Association

The insurance industry expects further record loss figures for 2024 in view of the increasingly significant effects of climate change. 

But what are the implications for the those people in Austria who are affected by the damages? Will any of their insurance cover losses caused by natural disasters or storms?

Limited coverage

Austria's Chamber of Labour (AK) told Austrian media that most household and homeowner insurance policies (Haushalts—und Eigenheimversicherungen Produkte) provide minimal coverage for damage caused by heavy rain, flooding, or mudslides, often between €4,000 and €10,000.

However, higher sums could be agreed upon individually with insurance companies, but for an extra charge. AK noted that in certain flood-prone areas, clients might not even get coverage at all.

READ ALSO: What kind of insurance do I need to have in Austria?

Austrian insurer Wiener Städtische urges people to check their insurance policies and evaluate whether they need to be updated. Most have low coverage amounts for damages, or the policyholder has not updated the value of properties in case of extensions, renovations, or pool additions, for example.

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Household insurance (Haushaltsversicherung) covers household items, while homeowner's insurance (Eigenheimversicherung) covers damage to the house itself. The latter also covers damage after a storm, such as a torn-off roof.

According to a Der Standard report, a comprehensive insurance policy on your car might pay for storm damage, depending on the type of cover. Still, standard liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) will not pay anything due to storm damage.

It's important to pay attention to the policy details. For example, if a vehicle has been damaged by water, you shouldn't try to start it, or it could destroy the engine and insurance companies will not cover the damages anymore.

READ ALSO: ‘Haushaltsversicherung’ - How does Austria’s home insurance work?

If you suffer damage to an insured property, you should report it to the insurance company as soon as possible in writing. Most companies have a website or app that makes this easier. 

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In case the insurance company does not refund your expenses, you could claim them as "extraordinary expenses" (Katastrophenschäden) in your employee tax assessment (Arbeitnehmerveranlagung). Businesses and freelancers can claim the costs as a business expense.

Most expenses can be claimed, including costs for the necessary construction of a new building, purchase of new furnishing (except for decorative items), clothing (up to €2,000) or supplies. However, you cannot claim costs in connection with a second home or luxury goods.

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