Winter damage bills could top £1,600

Home at Christmas

The average household could face a damage bill of more than £1,635 as a result of the Arctic storms that battered the UK last month. 

The benchmark figure is what almost a million households had to stump up last year after falling victim to severe winter weather, but Direct Line home insurance had said the bill for damage in 2014 could be even higher.

Over the past five years, Direct Line found that one in eight homes had been damaged as they battled the elements. Of them, 43% had problems with their roofs, 23% saw their pipes freeze and 18% suffered boiler failure. Even worse, 9% of householders had to move out while the damage was fixed.

But despite the cost and inconvenience of the havoc wreaked by harsh winters, few households took preventative measures. Only 35% had their boiler serviced, 24% had cleared their gutters and only a fifth had insulated their pipes.

Katie Lomas, head of Direct Line home insurance, has the following advice: “During the colder months, leave the heating on at approximately 15 degrees on the thermostat to avoid cold-related property issues. Find out now where your stopcock is and know how to turn off the water supply in event of an emergency. You really don’t want to be looking for it when water is coming through the ceiling it a pipe bursts in the cold.”

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Top 10 issues winter woes of the past five years recorded by Direct Line home insurance.

1. Damaged roof, 43% (households affected)

2. Damage to fencing/garden wall, 24%

3. Damage to garden, 23%

4. Frozen Pipes, 23%

5. Interruption to power supply, 19%

6. Boiler failed, 18%

7. Damage to car, 15%

8. Central heating failure, 12%

9. Damaged windows, 10%

10. Had to move out of house, 9%