How to keep your home safe this winter
What makes a house a home?
Here at Watkin Davies we think that, aside from your family and the people in it, the most important things that make your house a home are your possessions.
Regardless of how many possessions you have, be they personal belongings, something you saved for a long time to buy, or those sentimental items acquired over the years that you would never get rid of, they are part of what makes a property feel like your home. For that reason it is absolutely vital that they have sufficient cover through your home insurance.
Unfortunately, should our homes become subject to damage by bad weather, fire or theft, we all run the risk of losing items we feel are irreplaceable. However, most of our possessions can be protected providing we have adequate insurance cover for our contents.
The British weather is famously capricious. Winter floods and storm damage cost the insurance industry approximately £1.2bn last year £451m of this was in flood claims alone. These costs demonstrate the extent of the financial loss people suffered due to the flooding and storms, in addition to the emotional upset and disruption to their lives.
In the winter time, it’s not just heavy rain that can cause damage to property, a dramatic decline in temperature can cause water pipes to freeze and consequently burst or a build-up of snow can block air vents or even place unmanageable pressure on roofs and other structures.
With winter fast approaching, here is a winter weather checklist to help you ensure your home is protected should the unexpected occur.
1. Determine whether your area is susceptible to flooding
You will probably know whether you are in a flood-risk area, as your insurance broker will have asked for information when insuring your property. However, if you are unsure you can use this Government flood information website
2. Sign up for free flood warnings
If you live in England, Wales or Scotland you can sign up to a service that will notify you via text, email or phone if there is a danger of local flooding, or if disruptive weather is forecast.
3. Know your warnings
The met office categorises their weather warnings through colour:
Yellow = be aware
Amber = be prepared
Red = take action
You should also be aware of these signs too:
For a full breakdown of what these warnings mean, visit the Met Office website
4. Keep your pipes warm
A dramatic drop in temperature can cause water pipes to freeze and consequently burst. This is especially a risk if you go away and leave your house empty during a cold snap. If freezing temperatures are predicted, leave your central heating on a low heat of 12 - 15 °C. Where possible, use lagging on vulnerable pipes in lofts and crawl spaces.
5. Don't get wind-swept
High winds can also cause serious damage during the winter. If they are forecast, it is advisable to check for any loose roof tiles or slates to avoid injury or damages if things start to get blown around. Do not put yourself at risk by getting up on the roof, but if you are able to, check from your loft for any broken, dislodged or missing roof tiles. Also check any felt flat roofs as these can be particularly vulnerable to bad weather. Where you suspect problems, contact a roofing specialist.
Likewise, arrange for the removal of any dead or overgrown branches from trees that could potentially break and cause injury or damage to your home
6. Insure your home
Sometimes no amount of planning and preparation can prevent bad weather from causing damage to your home, which is why it is particularly important at this time of year to make sure your buildings and contents are covered by insurance.
It is wise to make an infantry of all your home contents, including all those items that don't first come to mind like furnishings, clothing, bedding etc. Keep a safe copy of this list. This may seem like a tedious task, but it is vital to calculate the correct contents sum insured and will assist in the event of a incident.
7. Move your valuables
To protect your irreplaceable or valuable items, either keep them upstairs or on a high shelf to avoid water damage, or be mindful to move these items if your home is placed on high alert.
8. Stay safe
Finally, and most importantly, keep yourself and your family safe and be prepared to alter any travel plans when bad weather is forecast, to avoid putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
Our Home Insurance policies can be tailored to meet your specific requirements. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff are more than happy to advise and assist with any questions or queries you have about your Home Insurance, as well as Landlords, Commercial and Residential Property Insurance. If you are looking for a quote, simply fill in this form or call us on 029 2062 6226