By Melanie Wright
One of the biggest sources of home insurance claims during the winter months is burst pipes. These occur when the water in pipes freezes causing a blockage which than leads the pipe to split. Check any visible pipes carefully for signs of hairline cracks, and if you spot any, get a plumber in to fix them as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to lag your pipes, particularly in areas where they are likely to freeze, such as your attic. You can pick up lagging inexpensively in DIY stores – all you need to do is wrap it around any pipes which might be vulnerable.
If you’re going to be away over Christmas, set your heating to go on a couple of times a day to keep warm water flowing through the pipes so that they don’t freeze. You may also want to ask a neighbour to pop in every couple of days just to make sure everything is okay. Let them know where the stopcock is so they can turn off the water supply altogether if something does go wrong.
As well as making sure your pipes are protected against winter weather, you should check gutters outside to make sure they aren’t clogged with leaves. Have a look at your roof too, and if you can see any loose tiles which could lead to a leak inside your home, get them professionally repaired as soon as possible. Insurers won’t usually pay out for claims if the damage is down to lack of maintenance or wear and tear, so it’s up to you to keep your property in a good state of repair.
Trim back any branches that overhang your house too, as if the weather turns stormy, these could cause damage to your property.
Make sure your home security is up to scratch as well, as darker nights create plenty of opportunities for burglars, who are often on the look-out for expensive Christmas presents. If you are going to be out, set lights on timers inside your property to make it look as though somebody is there and don’t leave gifts anywhere they can be easily seen from the outside.
Unfortunately, whatever measures you take to ensure your home is safe, damage or losses can still occur. Read your home insurance policy carefully so that you understand exactly what you are and aren’t covered for, and think about whether you want to include any extras, such as home emergency cover, so that you have additional protection in place.
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