Protecting your home from winter weather and how it can affect your insurance

It’s certainly been a mild winter so far, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, terrible storms might still be on the way.

And there have been plenty of recent winters where ferociously bad weather has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to homes around the country.

How bad weather can hit your home cover

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recently estimated that the widespread flooding seen during the past few winters has led to average home insurance claims of between £20,000 and £40,000.

And affected homes may be viewed by insurers as a greater risk in future, especially if the damage involved flooding, and householders can see their home insurance premiums rise by hundreds of pounds a year, if they can get any cover at all.

Claims might be rejected for poorly maintained homes

If any claim you make due to poor weather is to be successful, you have to show that what you’re claiming for wasn’t simply the result of a poorly maintained home. In other words, the bad weather damage occurred through no lack of reasonable home maintenance.

So it really is worth spending time doing some home maintenance to help protect your property from the worst of winter’s ravages.

Here are a number of key things you should do every year, preferably during the autumn once trees have shed most of their leaves, but before the most dangerous time for poor weather has started.

Winter home protection tips

  • Check you’re covered – Most policies provide cover for the effects of bad weather, such as flooding and burst pipes, but some of the cheaper ones might not.
  • Get your boiler looked at – Find a CORGI registered plumber and get your boiler serviced. Boilers are one of the main causes of home insurance claims and problems during the winter.
  • Keep the central heating on – Set the thermostat to around 15 degrees Celsius as a minimum. This will help reduce the chance of burst pipes and keep those parts of the home which often get the coldest, such as lofts and utility rooms, safe from frozen pipes and frost damage.
  • Seal holes around cables – Houses are full of cables running into and from them these days. Check the spaces around the cable are as sealed as possible to stop cold air or water getting in to stone work.
  • Leave the loft hatch slightly ajar – This will help warm air circulate and, again, help prevent frozen pipes, water tanks and frost damage.
  • Inspect your roof – If you can afford to, get a local roofer to take a look at your roof. They’ll be able to spot any potential problems, such as loose tiles, wonky chimney pots and flashing issues. Otherwise, try and take a good look yourself.
  • Check your guttering, gullies and drains – Blocked gutters, gullies and drains can cause all sorts of water damage, and make any potential flooding worse, if the problem isn’t corrected. Try and keep them clear each year.
  • Insulate pipes – It goes without saying that pipes in colder parts of a home should be insulated.
  • Overhanging trees and branches – If you spot any branches overhanging your property, whether from trees in your own garden, your neighbours’, or in the street, arrange for them to be cut back.
  • Know where your water ‘stopcock’ is – Your home’s stopcock is the tap which turns the water off for the whole property. It’s amazing how many people don’t know where it is, but it’s vital you do so that if you have damaged pipes or central heating system problems, or experience flooding, you can turn it off.

Policy Expert

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1 1/5 Avoid like the plague
Part of my kitchen ceiling came down so i phoned the emergency callout i had paid for they wouldnt send anyone. The next day i rang policy expert and tried to put a claim in only to be told that i had to get my own tradesperson to come and see what the cause was. My plumber said it was a leak over time from my shower and the bath was not a good design. So rang them back only to be told im not insured. Why am i paying house insurance theyhave not even been to see it and they dont intend to. They have taken my money and scarpered. My insurance is up for renewal in dec and i will never ever use these people again. Judging by the reviews left on here i think we all have a case to take to watchdog!!!! Update: put a complaint in and the lady sent me my policies i was covered for the emergency cover and the buildings cover should have covered the claim. Still no response back from policy expert.

1 1/5 Its when you claim their true colours become clear
My garage was broken in to and I had a lot of power tools stolen , the garage was locked with a three point locking system up and over door. It appears the lock was forced with another key. When I tried to make a claim I was told because there was no "Forced and voilent" entry I couldn't claim on my insurance. Reading my policy document this isnt true can be either forced OR voilent , it was an attempt to stop my claim. I've made a compalint on their email facility but have no aknowledgement they have recieved my complaint. Warning if a theif uses a lock picking tool to get in your house they will refuse to pay up ...this could cost you thousands. Its when you actually need your policy you can truely make comment on thier services. I've been treated like a fraudster by the very people who should protect me from such instances.

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