Home Good to know Good to know : Be prepared for a harsh winter

Good to know : Be prepared for a harsh winter

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From burst pipes to damaged art work, last winter’s extreme weather saw specialist home insurance provider Hiscox experience a 60% increase in the number of freeze related household claims when compared to the same time the previous year. The conditions also impacted road users with more than a third of claims in January 2010 caused by ice related damage compared to none in the previous year. Homeowners should prepare for the unknown; the colder and wetter the weather, the worse the damage can be.

The coldest winter seen in three decades caught many by surprise with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall resulting in flood and structural damage to homes. Frozen pipes and blocked gutters led to water damaged homes while the weight of snow on roofs caused some to collapse, particularly flat roofed outbuildings and greenhouses. Car drivers encountered problems on icy roads that created treacherous conditions. With this in mind, home and car owners are being urged to prepare by battening down the hatches for the winter and taking some simple steps to help prevent damage to their property.

Austyn Tusler, home insurance expert at Hiscox, comments: “Last winter we saw a dramatic increase in home and car insurance claims as a result of the freezing conditions, however some of the damage could have been avoided with some basic preparation. We don’t want people to find out the hard way what damage a cold winter can do, so to help alleviate the inconvenience of property and car damage, Hiscox is offering a few simple tips to keep the frost at bay.”

As the nation braces itself for the coming winter months there are some simple ways to help safeguard your property:

– insulate water tanks, pipes and cisterns, especially in unheated areas like lofts or outbuildings

– check your mains water tap (or valve) is working in case the pipes do freeze so that you are able to contain any subsequent water spill

– know where your water valves are and learn how to shut them off in the unfortunate event that a pipe bursts at your property

– if you’re away from home, leave the heating on low to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting

– if your property is isolated and unoccupied ask someone to check on it regularly during the winter months as Hiscox have seen claims where burst water pipes have continued to pump water for days until it has been noticed and stopped.

Driving in cold conditions also has additional risks, read a few simple measures to prepare for the freeze:

– take your car to a mechanic and check out the following: battery; antifreeze level, heater, brakes; and defroster

– check to make sure your tyres have adequate tread. If the treads are worn, replace them.

– road salt used on the roads to prevent ice forming can damage your car’s paint. Rinsing it off every once in a while can help, but a good wash and coat of fresh wax will go a long way in preventing corrosion.

Source : Hiscox Press Release