Is Your Home Insurance Ready For A Winter Battering?
Published: 21 September 2011 By Peter Thompson Leave a Comment
With the remains of Hurricane Katia causing unseasonable late-summer storms and winter fast approaching, now might be a good time to make sure your home insurance is ready for a winter battering and that you are not underinsured.
Whether it’s burst water pipes, high winds or heavy rains that cause damage, it’s important to ensure you have adequate home insurance in place. So too is it important to have it to cover losses resulting from a burglary, with intruders favouring the darker evenings to make their move.
Whilst most people do renew their home insurance regularly not all check that that the value of cover for example is sufficient and risk being underinsured.
That’s especially so if you’ve added an extension or conservatory; or converted the integral garage or roof space into an extra room. If your three-bed home has suddenly become a four-bed one your insurance will need attention. Apart from the increased value of the property, there will be investment in furniture and carpets as well.
As Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance points out: “It’s quite easy to exceed the typical insurance limit of £1,500 for valuables – a piece of jewellery for a special anniversary or birthday, an original oil painting or professional-quality camera equipment can easily exceed that value. Many people forget to tell their insurance company about these things.”
MoneyHighStreet adds: “If you’ve recently inherited a valuable item, make sure you get it professionally valued and get it included on your policy.”
It might be a good idea to check the value of your home’s contents and the AA has a useful calculator on their website to help you tot-up what your home contents are worth.
Take some time to check that your home can stand up to the winter storms too. Some tips on what to look out for and steps to take to help:
- Slipped tiles or slates that a strong wind could lift and result in tiles raining down and the rain or snow getting in
- Branches from nearby trees could break a window in a strong wind, get the trimmed back if need be. Check that soil or debris isn’t bridging your damp proof course and if it is, clear it away to ensure you don’t end up with damp coming through your walls
- Make sure your gutters and downpipes aren’t blocked with leaf fall and debris. In winter this can freeze and cause overflow, in turn causing icicles that get heavier and heavier – eventually bringing your guttering down.
- Are your pipes and tanks adequately insulated? A burst pipe up there, especially if you are away, could leak hundreds of gallons of water through ceilings and carpets, ruining furniture and possibly ruining your electrics too. If you’re going away for a while during winter, leave the heating on at a low level and if you can, ask a friend or neighbour to check your home from time to time.
- Make sure you have smoke alarms fitted and working upstairs and downstairs – they’re not expensive and can be a life-saver. Also don’t overload sockets with too many plugs; make sure you never leave your cooker unattended when it’s on (the biggest cause of fire claims is cooker fires – chip oil for instance can spontaneously ignite if it’s left on the ring too long and it produces a lot of nasty smoke).
- Make sure you have locks on your main exit door and have key lockable windows to meet the specification as defined in your insurance policy. Also don’t leave your car keys on the hall table or hanging on a convenient rack just inside the door – the number of cars stolen by thieves taking the keys first is going up sharply, often simply by ‘fishing’ for them through your letterbox using a long pole or even a fishing rod! If you do have valuable jewellery, think about fitting a small safe – they aren’t too expensive and can be fitted relatively easily. After all, the real value in a necklace or ring can be in its emotional or sentimental attachment rather than what it’s worth in monetary terms. Don’t leave ladders or tools that could be used for a break-in lying around – make sure they are locked away in your shed or garage.
- Think about joining your local Neighbourhood Watch; fitting movement-sensitive exterior security lights; an intruder alarm or just putting interior lights on a timer if you are away, giving the impression someone is home. Good security measures can get you discounts on your home insurance!