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Home insurance warning as double dip freeze nears

Home insurance warning as double dip freeze nears

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 27/11/2012
First Published: 16/12/2010

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This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The return of freezing temperatures and heavy snow is set to bring burst pipe misery to many more UK homes over the coming days and weeks, it has been warned.

Lloyds TSB Insurance says it has seen a dramatic rise in home insurance claims due to the recent cold weather.

The insurer saw a sevenfold increase in the number of home insurance claims for burst and frozen pipes after the first cold snap, and fears that more trouble is on the way.

Burst and leaking pipes can cause extensive damage to property including structural problems and electrical faults.

"The cost to repair damage caused by a burst pipe is typically around £2,000, so it is worth taking steps to avoid frozen pipes, making sure you have adequate home insurance in place and also knowing what to do to limit the damage if a pipe does burst," said Tim Downes, regional manager of Lloyds TSB's personal claims consultants.

With the insurer anticipating many more weather related claims as the temperatures drop over the Christmas period, it has issued some advice to homeowners to help them protect their homes:

To help prevent burst pipes:

• Burst pipes occur when water freezes and expands, cracking the pipes and causing them to leak when they thaw. To avoid this, insulate the loft, all water pipes and also the sides of your water tank.

• If leaving your home empty in the winter for any length of time, leave the central heating on low, to avoid the pipes freezing.

• Many boilers have a frost protection thermostat on them which turns on automatically if the temperature drops below a certain level. It's also worth asking a friend or trusted neighbour to check on the home now and again to ensure pipes haven't burst or frozen.

• Make sure you know where your water mains' stop tap is and ensure you can turn it off easily in an emergency.

What to do if a pipe has burst:

1. Turn off the mains water supply. This is often found under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters the property.

2. Turn the electricity off in areas affected by the leak via the fuse box. If substantial water damage has been sustained, the electrical supply should be turned off completely until a qualified electrician is able to inspect the electrical system and ensure it is safe.

3. Drain the water system by running all the cold taps.

4. Any dripping water can be caught in buckets. If the ceiling starts to bulge, pierce a few small holes in it to let the water drain through.

5. If water has been leaking for some time and the ceiling is bulging significantly, it may not be safe to enter the room.

6. Turn off the central heating and immersion heater, and turn on the hot taps to help drain the water system.

7. Contact your home insurer as soon as possible for further advice or to register a claim.

If you're looking for home insurance, Nationwide is offering a 30% saving when you buy buildings and contents cover together, and will also give Nationwide customers an extra 15% off. Alternatively, take out Barclays Home Insurance and you will receive a 20% online discount, plus three months free insurance.

Compare home insurance providers

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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