Many people assume their buildings and contents insurance will automatically cover them for winter weather, for things like storm damage or flood damage. It’s worth checking that when it comes to winter weather insurance, your insurer doesn’t exclude or limit cover for storm or flood damage.
Hiscox Home Insurance automatically covers you for home emergencies such as flooding and burst pipes. However, there are some precautions you can take to avoid having to make a claim in the first place.
- Secure any loose tiles, pipework and guttering and replace any that are broken
- Store away any garden furniture that could cause damage in high winds
- Remove any loose branches from trees and secure any loose fencing
- Install a lightening conductor if you live in a large building or particularly exposed area
- Replace any cracked window panes, as the putty takes a long time to dry completely.
Even if you have your heating and hot water on constantly, you’re still vulnerable to frozen or burst pipes, so it’s worth:
- Insulating pipes, water tanks and cisterns, especially in unheated areas like lofts, outbuildings and under floor spaces
- Fixing any dripping taps – the gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block a pipe
- Leaving the central heating on low if you are going away, or turning the water supply off at the stopcock.
Guard against leaks by fitting a device such as a waterminder that shuts the water off within minutes or signals an alarm if there is a burst pipe. A waterminder is a water management monitor designed to protect the home from flood damage by frozen pipes these devices will automatically shut off the water supply if a leak is detected even if the householder is away on holiday.
If you discover a frozen pipe:
- Turn off the water supply at the main stop tap, and turn off the stopcock in your cold water tank if you have one, it's usually found in the loft.
- Protect everything around the pipe that appears to be frozen to avoid damage if it bursts.
- Gently warm the frozen pipe with a hairdryer or hot water bottle. Open the tap closest to the frozen pipe, and begin thawing the pipe from the tap side of the frozen area.
If a pipe or tank should actually burst, turn off the water at the main stopcock immediately and switch off all central heating and other water heating installations. Let water in the system drain out by turning on all the taps and then call in a professional plumber to make the repairs. Most water companies operate approved plumber schemes if you don’t have a regular plumber.
If you live in an area that's prone to flooding, or if weather reports suggest there's one heading your way, follow these steps to make sure you're prepared.
- Keep the doors and windows shut
- Move anything of value, and as much as you physically can, upstairs
- Sandbag around the perimeter of your house, especially doorways and places where water can easily seep in
- Prepare an emergency kit in case you are trapped or need to evacuate - this should include blankets, torches, waterproof clothing, food, water and a first aid kit
- Make sure you know how to turn off the electricity and gas supply (in the dark if necessary)
- Prepare a list of important emergency phone numbers, including emergency helplines for your local water company and insurance company
Find the right Hiscox insurance policy for you
Hiscox home insurance includes 24 hour home emergency cover as standard for domestic emergencies like blocked drains. Up to £500 parts and labour and no excess to pay.
More information about home insurance >
Environment Agency – preparing for a flood >
Environment Agency – find out whether there are any flood warnings in your area >