Homeowners are being urged to make sure their house can cope with bad weather, as the cold snap continues across the UK.
Many areas of the country are currently battling wintery weather with rain, snow and temperatures falling below zero.
Insurer SunLife says homeowners must take steps to ensure their home remains safe during the bad weather spell.
It suggests homeowners put their heating on a timer, even if they are away from home for a few days, to make sure pipes don’t freeze over. This can also stop damp forming on the walls and ceilings of a property.
Homeowners should also ensure they know where their stopcock – the valve that turns the water supply to a home on and off – is located. That means if a pipe does burst the water system can quickly be closed off.
Simon Stanney, general insurance director at SunLife, says: “Prevention is always better than cure, and although there is nothing we can do about the winter weather, there are steps we can take to make sure our homes are protected.”
The insurer is expecting a sharp increase in home insurance claims and says that policyholders should make sure they know what is covered and who to call in the event of a problem.
“Make sure you know who to call in a home emergency – your home insurer should cover weather related damage and most have 24-hour emergency helplines where they can offer help, advice and arrange for any repairs that need to be carried out,” he says.
When the weather improves, the firm also says people should check their roof, gutters and drains to make sure they are still in working order. Cutting back trees can prevent them from causing damage to fences and walls in windy weather.
“You may be able to check from your loft for any broken, dislodged or missing roof tiles, if not, you will need to have along ladder to check from the outside, Mr Stanney adds.
“If you have a chimney, make sure it is clean and check the lead flashings (where the chimney meets the roof) to ensure it is properly sealed. You should also check your gutters and drains - in the winter, they can get full of leaves and other debris so make sure you clear them regularly to avoid blockages and minimise the risk of water damage.
“You should also make sure they are all aligned and the bottom of the pipe is facing away from your property – you don’t want to end up with water running down your house.”