Let’s be honest, when it comes to handling a bit of bad weather, us Brits are generally a little bit rubbish. A bit of snow and ice is enough to bring our transport systems to a near stand-still, close our schools and generally cause chaos – so what can we expect later this week when sub-zero temperatures hit?
For insurance brokers, it will probably mean dealing with an array of claims from under-prepared homeowners – that is, unless you give them the advice they need to avoid disaster.
Statistics from NFU Mutual show the average cost of repairs to damage from leaks caused by frozen pipes is around £4,700 and with the Met Office predicting freezing conditions, chances are that the plumbing in properties may be weakened.
“Escape of water causes a huge amount of damage, whatever the cause, but burst pipe claims caused by frost damage are a particular concern at this time of year,” explained Matthew Scott, chief claims manager at NFU Mutual. “Homeowners can take a number of steps to protect their property before a cold snap. Prevention is always better than cure and protecting your plumbing before a drop in temperature can dramatically reduce the chances of any damage being caused.”
So what are the steps that can be taken? The rural insurer has issued a five-step guide for homeowners as follows:
- Locate the stop cock. This will normally be located below your kitchen sink, or wherever the water supply enters your home. Make sure you can access it and close it easily.
- If you’re planning on leaving your property unoccupied during winter, take a few moments to turn off the stop cock and drain the plumbing of both hot and cold water systems.
- Well insulated loft spaces will get very cold in winter and so it’s important you give your water pipes extra lagging to help prevent them freezing and bursting.
- Keeping the thermostat at a normal setting overnight or while your home is unoccupied will help to keep the building temperature above freezing.
- Remember, any damage to pipes happens if the water in them freezes; but the escape of water only happens when the frozen pipes thaw out. Checking your pipes for signs of freezing or bursts such as leaking or dripping joints, will help you to react to a possible problem or nip it in the bud. Asking tenants to do the same will help to protect rental properties too.
As Storm Barbara hits the UK, how to prepare your clients for winter weather
Aviva Commercial Flood Guide 2016