UK weather: Chart shows snowfall is set to strike country
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More than six million Britons, equivalent to a quarter of all households, have suffered damage to their homes due to extreme weather, according to insurer Aviva. Having the right household insurance policy offers protection but prevention is better than cure.
Your roof will bear the brunt of extreme weather so check yours is in good repair, said Sarah Applegate, data science lead at Aviva.
Examine it for missing loose tiles or slates, and don’t stop there. “Check your gutters and drains are securely attached, and clear out any leaves and rubbish, which can weigh gutters down.”
Repair any cracked windows or frames, secure fences and gates to make sure they can withstand strong winds, and protect delicate plants against frost and ice.
If you have a wood burner or open fire, consider getting the chimney swept, as the fire risk is higher if it is full of debris, Applegate said.
Warm up your stove gently a couple of times before really firing it up, to minimise the risk of cracking bricks.
Consider getting your boiler serviced by a professional. “Lag your pipes and remember insulating jackets for your water tanks and cisterns too,” Applegate said.
Insulate loft spaces, water tanks, pipes and outdoor taps, if required, and replace damaged seals on doors and windows.
Nobody enjoys reading insurance documents but this could be the time to knuckle down and do it.
Policies are designed to cover unexpected and unpredictable events rather than general wear and tear, so know what cover you have.
If worried about flood, prepare a home emergency kit including torches, spare bulbs and batteries, emergency contact details, tinned food, warm clothing and blankets.
In an emergency, turn off the mains supplies of water, gas and electricity, unplug all electrical items and store them upstairs or as high as possible.
Disconnect pipes to washing machine and dishwashers to avoid damage if appliances move during the flood.
Empty contents of cupboards and drawers and store upstairs or as high as possible, especially sentimental items.
Take photographs of damaged items as it may help your insurer to settle a claim. Keep your insurer’s contact details handy in case you need to make a claim.
Most of us don’t give our boiler a second thought until it breaks down, which is when we realise just how vital it is.
A breakdown could leave you without heating and hot water, and they tend to go at the worst possible time, like Christmas.
A service typically costs around £72, according to Which?, and consider taking out home emergency cover too. This covers the cost of calling out a tradesman following, say, boiler breakdown, burst pipes, central heating or electrical failure, and roof damage, depending on the policy.
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GoCompare’s home insurance expert Ryan Fulthorpe said: “It should give you a 24-hour helpline for emergency repairs by local tradespeople at an agreed rate, and cover call-out, labour charges and parts and materials up an agreed amount.”
Fewer than one in five home contents insurance policies include home emergency cover as standard, but you can buy it as a insurance add-on or stand-alone plan.
British Gas, EDF BoilerCare, 24/7 Home Rescue, Home Emergency Assist, Scottish Power and SSE are just some of those offering policies.
Plans cost from £5 to £25 a month, depending on provider and level of cover, and you can compare what’s available on comparison sites such as GoCompare, Uswitch and MoneySupermarket.
Be warned, boilercover plans may also have exclusions, for example, many refuse to cover older boilers.
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