Home insurance costs soar due to severe winters
The cost of home insurance has hit its highest-ever level, according to new research.
Statistics from the AA British Insurance Premium Index show that buildings cover rose by 14.3% over the 12 months to the end of September, with most of the rise occurring in the first quarter of 2011.
Contents policies are on the rise too; they've increased by 5.8% on average during the same period.
"There has been a lot of focus on the sharp rises in car insurance premiums - yet over the past couple of years, the cost of insuring your home has been steadily rising too: and I believe it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," says Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance.
The cost of buildings insurance has been rising steadily since 2009. "Since then we've gone through two severe winters that caused widespread property damage throughout the UK. Insurers are also concerned about more frequent severe weather events such as flash floods, often in places with no flooding history; wind damage and even damage from extreme hailstorms, lightning strikes and tornadoes."
How you can avoid making a claim
Homeowners need to take steps to reduce the risk of damage to their homes if we have yet another harsh winter. The most important thing to do is reduce the chance of water damage. 'Escape of water', such as from broken or frozen pipes and roof tanks is the biggest single cause of home insurance claims.
How to avoid burst pipes:
Pipes are most likely to burst in cold weather when you are away, so take these steps to reduce the risk.
1. Insulate pipes that are in your attic or crawl spaces as these exposed pipes are the most likely to freeze. Also lag your water tank.
2. If you are leaving your home empty leave the central heating on at about 12C - 15C.
3. Leave any kitchen or bathroom cabinets with pipes in open so that warmer air can reach the pipes.
4. Leave your loft hatch open so warm air can reach the pipes and water tank.
5. Switch off the water supply to any outside taps and if your boiler doesn't need constant mains pressure, consider switching off your mains water supply at the stopcock.
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.