First comes the rain, then the snow.
As we all know, adverse weather conditions cost the insurance industry millions every year. As the temperatures drop, a few simple precautions can save time and money for everyone!
Snow and ice often mark a spike in household claims, with the most common being ‘Escape of Water’, as a result of burst water pipes. So, perhaps the time is right for a campaign to raise awareness; encouraging householders to take a few simple measures to winter proof their homes?According to the ABI, the cost to the industry from ‘Escape of Water’ claims was a colossal £730 million in 2010; a year in which we experienced a particularly harsh winter. This was an eye watering 45 per cent increase in the number of claims on the previous year. But why so bad? Is the weather alone responsible for this trend? Apparently not. The Office of National Statistics data shows that in 1970, only 30% of UK homes were fitted with central heating. Today this figure is closer to 95%. Similarly, just 65% of households had a washing machine in 1970. Today, 95% of all homes have one. Washing machines, like dishwashers and central heating, require plumbing, and where there is plumbing, there are pipes – and water!And that’s not all. Not only has the risk of your home being flooded increased, but so has the value of its contents. With expensive gadgetry and a general penchant for the finer things in life, burst pipes can make for a costly claim.Essentially, burst water pipes occur when the water inside a pipe freezes. The ice expands putting pressure on the pipe, which eventually cracks, and when the thaw begins, water will come pouring from the break.
A few simple precautions can do much to avoid disaster at home. Watch the weather forecasts, and if it is going to be particularly cold, keep your central heating on a low setting so that the temperature at home does not fall below 12 degrees. Lag exposed pipes (especially in the loft) and attend to dripping taps both inside and out. Finally, make sure you know where your stopcock is because if the worst does happen, the sooner you stop the flow of water, the better.
In view of the forecast, the AA have issued the following winter driving advice: Heed police advice and don't drive unless you must, in badly-affected areasMake sure your tyres are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. If worn, replace them (the AA recommends 3mm minimum tread depth during winter – the legal minimum is 1.6mm)If you fit winter tyres (not studded tyres), which perform better in snow and ice, there should be no increase in premium and no need to tell your insurer, provided they meet your car manufacturer's specifications and they are fitted by a competent garage or tyre centre. If you are in any doubt contact your insurer.If you are driving in some European countries, winter tyres are mandatory.Drive slowly in as high a gear as possible, which provides better traction. Allow plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front (at least a 10-second gap on icy roads) and avoid sudden braking, acceleration or steering movements.
Don't be tempted to leave your unattended car warming up on the drive: dozens of cars have already been stolen off drives this year. A claim for theft of an unattended car, with the keys in it, is unlikely to be successful.
So, assuming you're ready..... let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.