Preparing your home for the colder months
1. Assess your outside security
With the last of the warm evenings behind us, now is the time to take in the garden furniture before it becomes damaged by the cold and damp. If you are storing expensive items in outdoor sheds, make sure locks are adequate and consider installing security lights to deter thieves.
According to recent data from Halifax, the average claim for garden theft is £337. However, most home insurers impose a cap on the total value of items stored in out houses, which can start from as little as £250. If you intend to store high value items outside your main home, call your insurer and check you are not exceeding its particular limit.
Cyclist enthusiasts should be especially wary as insurers can apply individual caps to cover for bikes. Although this can extend up to £500, it can start from as little as £150. If your bike is top-of-the-range it may need to be declared separately or even covered by a standalone specialist bike insurer, such as Cycleguard, which covers bikes worth up to £7,000.
2. Review your buildings and contents cover
According to figures published by Sainsbury’s Finance, one in five (20%) of its personal loans taken during the first half of 2010 were used solely to fund home improvements.
If you have carried out renovations to your home during the summer months, autumn is the time to check that the buildings insurance you have in place to protect it, is adequate. You can get an idea of what level of cover you will need at the Association of British Insurers’ calculator.
It’s almost always cheaper to buy your buildings and contents insurance from the same insurer, so consider switching both to the cheapest provider by shopping online and comparing deals.
3. Drive down the cost of your car insurance
UK insurers coughed up £650 million against 335,000 separate claims, at the start of this year, following the UK’s eighth coldest winter on record. No wonder then that the cost of car insurance has rocketed by 32% over the last six months, according to new research from Confused.com.
Get ahead of this autumn and seek out the cheapest motor cover for your circumstances – before the colder weather pushes you back into your car. Bear in mind however, that your insurer could charge a fee if you are still within contract, so you will have to factor this into any saving you make.
4. Switch to a cheaper energy supplier
If temperatures plunge well below zero again this winter, you will be paying through the nose for your heating. This makes now the right time to switch onto the cheapest energy tariff.
According to regulator, Ofgem, more than four million people switched energy providers last year, cutting their annual bill by an average of £150.
5. Use vouchers for indoor activities
Summer is cheaper than winter on more levels than energy usage. Picnics in the parks, games of football and walks in the forest all cost nothing but are often weather-dependent.
But when you are forced back inside for leisure activities, including restaurants, cinemas and shopping centres, make sure you are not spending more than you need to. There are a whole host of vouchers available from websites such as Vouchercodes.co.uk, which will all soften the blow of winter – and its associated costs.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.
This type of insurance covers the structure and fabric of your property – the bricks and mortar, not the contents (for which you need contents or home insurance). If you have a mortgage, the lender will insist you have a suitable buildings insurance policy in place. Many lenders offer their own building insurance policies, but you don’t have to buy it from your own lender but you have the option of shopping around. The insurance covers you for the rebuilding costs, not the market value of the property.
Association of British Insurers
Established in 1985, the ABI is the trade body for UK insurance companies. It has more than 400 member companies that provide around 90% of domestic insurance services sold in the UK. The ABI speaks out on issues of common interest and acts as an advocate for high standards of customer service in the insurance industry. The ABI is funded by the subscriptions of member companies.