9 December 2015
Get your home ready for winter
The clocks have gone back and the evenings are drawing to a close much earlier; there’s no denying that winter will soon be upon us. As the temperature drops, there really is no time like the present to safeguard your home against the season ahead. Principality Building Society’s Insurance Product Manager Barclay Sansom shares his tips on winter-proofing your home.
Know your policy
First things first, have you got a home insurance policy in place? This will help to protect your home from a range of eventualities. There are basically three types of home insurance: buildings, contents and combined building and contents insurance.
Only homeowners will be able to take out buildings insurance or a combined policy, but it’s highly recommended both renters and homeowners consider a contents insurance policy, especially at this time of year.
- Buildings insurance
Although it will differ from policy to policy, building insurance will cover the permanent fixtures of your home. Particularly important during the winter season, a building insurance policy should cover your home from damage in adverse weather such as storms, lightning, flooding, falling trees and so on.
- Contents insurance
On the other hand, contents insurance covers the belongings inside your home from theft or damage. Contents insurance should protect those precious Christmas gifts before or after Christmas Day, and give you a safety net should anything happen to them. Remember, if you’ve bought a loved one any ‘big ticket items’ you might need to increase your insurance policy. Single items covered usually range from £750 - £2,000, so if you’ve been particularly generous this year and a gift exceeds these totals, make sure you call your insurance provider or check your policy online. You may find in some instances your policy may automatically increase.
At this time of year, our to-do list can seem to spiral out of control, but one of the most important things you could add to it is to check when your home insurance expires. As a homeowner, this is one of those vital dates that could cost you greatly if forgotten about. Although your insurance provider will send you reminders either in the post or via email, don’t rely on this. A renewed policy should be activated immediately, but don’t risk cutting it fine - one thing we know about the British weather is that we can never predict what’s around the corner.
Get your home ready
While it’s really important to have an insurance policy in place to guard against damage or theft to your home or its contents, there are others things we can do around the house to get it winter ready.
- Clean the guttering
After the falling leaves of autumn, it’s important to clear your gutters of any excess debris to avoid blockages occurring. While you’re there, check the drainpipes are all connected properly and that water isn’t leaking as this could potentially cause water damage.
- Keep your pipes toasty
Wintery weather can often be problematic for pipes, making them freeze and thaw very quickly and causing them to burst. The most effective way of avoiding this is to protect them with a foam layer which will act as insulation. When hiring a company to do this work make sure the company you hire is part of the National Insulation Association (NIA) and look into all the options as some companies offer free insulation fittings based on the eligibility of your home. Remember, if you’re going away over Christmas, set your heating to come on for about an hour a day to keep the pipes working and prevent any nasty surprises when you return.
- Give your boiler an MOT
Being without central heating over the festive season is the last thing you want to worry about, particularly if you have family coming to visit. Fixing a boiler isn’t cheap, and not something you want to have to budget for around Christmas. But it’s worth the money to have your boiler serviced by a registered engineer, helping avoid any nasty surprises during the festive period. Your home insurance may cover boiler repair, but it’s unlikely. Check beforehand, or alternatively look into standalone boiler cover which could save you from a big repair bill in the future.
- Invest in insulation
Insulating the wall cavity and roof of your house will keep heat in much more effectively, making it nice and cosy in the winter months but also saving you money in heating costs. It’s an investment worth making, particularly as the Energy Saving Trust has estimated the average house could save up to £240 per year on energy bills if it has good insulation.
As Christmas looms and our savings are set to take a hit with presents, food and festive merriment, all of us could do without an unexpected bill for household maintenance. Ensuring your home insurance is up to date is half the battle in the lead up to Christmas, with general upkeep around the house just as important. Taking the time to get your house prepared in the run up to winter, leaving you in line for a stress-free Christmas, might just be the best present you get