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Homeowners warned over cold weather snap

Homeowners warned over cold weather snap

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 25/11/2010
First Published: 25/11/2010

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 It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Against the backdrop of plummeting temperatures, homeowners have been warned to take precautions to prevent burst pipes.

Much of the UK is likely to be hit by freezing conditions in the coming days, with many counties bracing themselves for snow, sleet and gale force winds.

Statistics from AXA show that during the cold snap last year, 'escape of water' claims soared as thousands of homeowners suffered as their personal possessions were damaged.

In fact, as temperatures dipped sharply in December 2009 and January this year, people were three times more likely to make a claim on a burst pipe than a theft claim, and 13 times more likely than a fire claim.

The average contents claim for water damage last year was £6,100, while the average buildings claim was £19,200.

The biggest claims have seen entire properties destroyed, a scenario which would have hugely significant repercussions for the one in five homes that is predicted to have no contents cover.

Those without cover should seriously consider taking out insurance, as just a few pounds a month could potentially save hundreds of thousands in the long run.

Home insurance from Barclays is worth a look. Some 20% can be saved by applying online and cover comes with three months free insurance, equating to around a 45% discount when paired with the online discount.

Amanda Edwards from AXA Insurance says: "People often don't realise the importance of protecting their water systems from freezing conditions.

"Not only does burst pipe damage have financial implications, especially if insurance is not in place, but it can also cause huge emotional trauma from ruined personal belongings."

Homeowners have been given the following advice to help prevent damage to their pipes.

  • Leave your heating on at a minimum of 12°C. This will stop water in your pipes from freezing.
  • Leave your loft hatch open to let warm air circulate - particularly if you have a cold water tank in your loft.
  • Make sure you know where your stop cock is so you can turn off water quickly in an emergency.
  • Check the insulation on your water pipes and the lagging on your cold water tank - if there's none in place get it sorted as soon as possible.
  • Insulate your loft - not only will this keep your home warm, it has environmental benefits too.
  • Leave your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open - this will allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes that are often found inside these cupboards.
  • Seal any holes that let in cold air. With modern technology, increasing numbers of people have holes in the wall for computer cables or TV links.
  • If you're going away, drain your water system. Probably not necessary if you are going away for just a short period, but if you are planning an extended break during the winter, this is a wise precaution. The group most badly affected by claims last year were the over 50s who were spending the winter abroad.
  • Also, if you're away, get your neighbours to check on your property - while it won't stop a pipe from freezing if you haven't taken other precautions, at least early intervention may reduce the damage caused.

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.