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.

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