Your home is the most expensive and precious thing you will ever own, therefore you want to make sure that should something go wrong, you are covered by your insurance. Here at Budget Insurance we want to make this simple for you, so we’ve collated the most common home-related claims we receive and how you could potentially prevent them from happening.
The top 5 risks to your home insurance are:
- Weather damage - Modern properties are built to withstand damage, but the most extreme weather conditions can damage your home so it's worth making sure your home is in a good state.
- Water damage - This is one of the biggest risks to your home insurance so it's important you have a home which is watertight.
- Flooding damage - This can happen from storms where rainfall is high and flooding is possible.
- Subsidence - This means a house that is sinking into the ground.
- Fire damage - House fire can have fatal consequences, not just to your home but to lives as well, which is why it's important you minimize the risk of fire in your home.
The weather is always a topical conversation and a focal point in the media over the last couple of months. Whilst we can’t predict what Mother Nature has in store for us, we can make sure we are as prepared as possible. Modern properties are built to withstand damage by all but the most extreme weather conditions but before winter comes it’s definitely worth making sure your home is in a good state of repair.
A good place to start is externally. Make sure that your guttering is not blocked or broken and that you don’t have any loose or damaged roof tiles. Areas like flat roofs, fascia boards, and boundary walls are difficult to inspect so if you cannot check them yourself you should use a relevant building expert to do this for you.
Whilst you’re outside, have a good look at your fence. Make sure you don’t have any loose fence panels and if you do repair them as soon as possible. Whilst it might seem like an expense you weren’t expecting, it’s worth getting these things sorted as it could potentially save you time, money and a headache later down the line. Finally, if you have larger trees in your garden, get a professional in to give you some advice on whether or not they need a trim. Falling branches or older trees that could give way can cause a lot of damage should they fall onto your property.
Water can potentially be one of the most disruptive hazards out there, so it’s very important to make sure your home is watertight. Next time it’s raining (you probably won’t have to wait too long) pop up into the loft to make sure there are no leaks in your roof. If there are, make sure you get them fixed by an expert as soon as possible, as quite quickly this could cause some serious damage to your home. It’s also worth remembering that damage caused from wear and tear or things that happen gradually are not covered by a Budget Home Insurance policy.
Within your home insurance cover, you should have cover for ‘escape of water’. Essentially, this is designed to cover damage to your property caused by water leaks. If you are not sure whether you are covered for this, you can either look through your policy documents or call your insurance provider.
One of the biggest risks of water damage occurs when you are away during the winter as pipes can freeze and burst to cause large amounts of damage. It’s important that you take steps to avoid this by keeping your central heating on low so your pipes do not freeze over. If you want to turn your heating off then you should drain your central heating system and switch off the water at the mains. If you happen to be going away this winter for more than 30 days, you must let your insurance company know your home will be unoccupied. If you don’t and for example, a pipe does burst, you may not be covered for any repairs necessary.
Water leaks that are caused when the seals around your bath or shower have worn away is another common claim most insurers receive. This is something that could be prevented by making sure that you inspect your bathroom every couple of months. Replacing the seal around your bath or shower is something that most people can do themselves. However, if you don’t feel confident in doing so, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional.
It’s worth noting however that sometimes water leaks occur due to the fact that pipes have worn out and simply burst. If this does happen, your insurer should be able to pay for the damage the water caused, but not for the repair itself. Just bear in mind that there may be additional excesses applicable for this type of claim. If you have questions about any of the above, the best thing to do is to give your insurance provider a call.
If you are in the unfortunate situation where you know there is a storm on the horizon and your home is expected to be flooded, then there are some steps that you need to do. It is essential to secure your home and move your valuables and essentials to an elevated place or upper floor. Electricity and water do not mix, so you should also turn off all the utilities like power, water and gas supplies at their main source and disconnect all electrical appliances if possible.
When you purchase a property make sure you are aware as to whether or not the area is prone to flooding. If you are in an area that is prone to flooding, there are additional steps you can take to protect your home and we would recommend contacting your local Environment Agency for further advice or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
Subsidence. It’s a term that you are probably aware of if you’ve filled out a home insurance application, but do you know what it really means? In good old plain English, subsidence is a house that’s sinking into the ground. Subsidence can occur when the ground underneath the house shrinks or swells due to the weather and can happen all year round. During wet weather periods, the ground expands due to the moisture and then contracts during the summer months.
Now you know what it is, how can you look out for it? Quite simply by keeping an eye on your property and look out for cracks that seem to appear internally and externally. Be mindful and take note if doors and windows start to jam as you try to open/close them as they'll be out of alignment.
Some insurance policies will not cover subsidence, so make sure you read your terms and conditions first. It’s also worth checking if there any additional excesses to pay. If you are a Budget Insurance customer, we will cover this, so make sure you call us as soon as possible as subsidence and other types of ground movement can be difficult and complex to repair.
Whilst this isn’t weather related, I’m sure we’ve all heard or seen in the news horror stories of house fires and the devastation they cause, so it’s really important that you make sure your home is as safe as possible. A great place to start is making sure you have a smoke alarm fitted that actually works. Smoke alarms save lives and by alerting you to potential dangers can also prevent significant damage being caused. Set diary reminders to check your smoke alarms every couple of months, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
A large proportion of all fires start in the kitchen and are commonly caused by faulty electrical appliances or unattended cooking pans and equipment. A commonly asked question is, how often should we be replacing our household appliances? This varies depending on whom you speak to but on average reports suggest that we should expect our washing machines to last up to eight years, with fridge freezers and ovens on average nine years.*
Many of us enjoy a nice relaxing evening in front of the TV with our favourite scented candles burning in the background, but make sure you blow them out before you go to bed! Whilst this is common knowledge, many people retire for the evening in a sleepy haze, leaving the candle burning, which is so very dangerous.
As the nights get cooler, many people reach for their electric blankets in a bid to keep them warm throughout the night. Electric blankets actually account for over 5,000 fires a year, so make sure you following these simples steps before you use yours this year:**
- Make sure the blanket does not have any tears, damp patches or soiling
- If there are any exposed wires, you need to get it checked by an electrician or purchase a new blanket
- Look out for an old BEAB safety mark – a round symbol (the new sign is white capital letters on a black background). This means it is more than 10 years old and you might want to consider purchasing a new one
- Always following the instructions and never leave it on overnight unless your blanket has a thermostat control built into it
Hopefully this blog post has given you some useful information to getting your home winter ready, as before you know it, Christmas will be here!