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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 09:54

Take time for a few simple checks to protect your home during the harsh winter weather. Harsh weather can take its toll on our homes, so make time now for a few simple checks.

The big freeze of early 2009 saw home insurance claims soar, as pipes and water tanks froze and burst, leaving a trail of damage from collapsed ceilings to ruined furniture. High winds also took their toll on homes - yet with a little forethought, much of this damage might have been avoided.

Don’t get caught out

The truth is, home insurance is not a maintenance contract and that means it won't cover damage resulting from poor upkeep - no matter who your insurer is. That's why it's important to inspect your home for damage after storms, and to protect it from weather extremes.

Inspection checklist – exterior of your property
• Keep gutters and drains clear and check downpipes for leaks and blockages.
• Inspect roofs after storms. Use binoculars to check for broken or dislodged tiles or slates, and if you can't see all parts of your roof, check the attic to confirm there's no sign of water damage.
• Remove overhanging or damaged branches that could cause harm if they come down.
• Check sheds and outhouses. High winds can damage locks as well as roofs.

Inspection checklist - interior of your property

• One in three homeowners don't know where their stopcock is, so make sure you're not one of them. If you have a water meter, the 'off' switch is on the meter.
• Check that your water tanks and pipework are well insulated, especially in cold attic spaces.
• Make sure your boiler has had its annual service.
• If you're going away, don't turn off your heating completely - leave it on low to maintain an air temperature of at least 10˚C to prevent pipes from freezing.

Good to know

With Sainsbury's Home Insurance you get unlimited buildings cover for the full cost of rebuilding your home, so you'll never be underinsured.

(First published on Money Matters Tue, 12 Jan 2010)

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