January can be a testing month for property owners. With unwelcome Christmas bills hitting the welcome mat while you rack up spring’s utility bills by keeping the place warm and lit, the last thing you want is to add to your January blues by having the drama of a burst pipe.
Frozen and burst pipes are a pain to deal with no matter how good your home insurance cover is. According to the Association British Insurers (ABI) there are around 3,500 burst pipe claims per year in the UK that cost an average of £7,000 to put right. Ouch.
Why Do Pipes Burst?
Burst pipes happen when the temperature causes the water in the household to fall below zero. The water freezes, causing the pipe to expand and eventually burst. It usually happens if a pipe is old and/or unprotected by lagging, but if the weather is severe enough it can happen in any property – especially if it is unoccupied.
The effects of a burst pipe can be devastating and horribly expensive to repair if the pipe is on the main system it can cause severe damage to a property, put you out of your home and even close a street for a few days as happened in Bristol in 2017.
To help you protect your property this winter, here is Coversure’s simple guide to ensuring you don’t end up the not-so-proud owner of an impromptu indoor swimming pool.
How To Protect Your Home From Burst Pipes
A £7,000 home insurance claim could push your premiums up substantially. Happily, there are a few easy steps you can take that will reduce the risks you face this winter;
- Make sure there is plenty insulation around your water tank and lag pipes especially if they are in unheated areas – such as garages and lofts. You must be careful to ensure there are no gaps at any bends, valves or fixings. You can also open the loft hatch to allow warm air to circulate and close outside doors and windows to minimise draughts
- Fix dripping taps as soon as you notice them. If you can’t fix them yourself, call your local plumber. Even a small dribble can cause a frozen pipe in the winter months
- Find your property’s internal stopcock or valve and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. Most stopcocks are fitted under the kitchen sink
- Make sure that you get your boiler serviced regularly
- If you are going away you should have a relative or friend come around and check on the property and keep the heating on a low setting. Alternatively, why not invest in a smart meter such as a Hive or Nest. These will allow you to control your home when you’re not at home and reduce the chances of any nasty homecoming surprises when you return
- For your own benefit you should also keep an emergency stash of drinking water should you have to shut your water off whilst having the maintenance done
What To Do In The Event Of A Frozen Or Burst Pipe
If you find a frozen pipe within your household you should:
- Turn your water supply off immediately. This will stop any more water getting into the water pipes
- If the burst pipe is on the main water system the rush of water will stop after a short while
- Check to see if the pipe has burst. If the pipe is okay, you can slowly defrost it with: hot water bottles, a hair dryer on the lowest setting or a towel soaked in hot water starting at the end nearest the tap
Sometimes pipes freezing and thawing can cause them to burst and you may find yourself needing to call your local plumber and your home insurance provider. Here at Coversure we can provide you with a range of competitive home insurance policies. We can offer both building and contents cover that will protect you from the damage that burst pipes can do to your possessions and the building itself. Let’s look at these types of cover in turn.
Buildings cover isn’t compulsory, but it is strongly recommended, indeed most mortgage providers want you to have it in place when purchasing your property. Many homeowners believe that their buildings insurance policy should be enough to cover the market value of your home, however in reality you only need enough to cover the rebuild and repair costs. However, if you live in an unusual, listed or old property then the cost of a rebuild may actually be higher than the market value as getting enough materials to rebuild a large property, Victorian brickwork features, ancient timber beams or sash windows can push up the cost of a rebuild significantly.
It’s important to get your level of buildings insurance right. Take out too much and you’ll end up paying for something you don’t need. Take out too little and you run the risk of property underinsurance – a serious problem that affects around 20% of UK households according to the ABI– and you could be left facing a hefty bill should the worst happen.
In order for you to get the right level of cover you can talk to a building surveyor or you can contact your local Coversure office directly and they’ll be able to handle that for you. Another unnecessary stress we can remove.
When taking out a contents insurance policy – be it as a standalone or as part of a combined contents and buildings home insurance package – you’ll have a few options for your cover;
- New for old – this is the standard and it means that anything you lose to the water damage will be replaced like-for-like with a new version
- Accidental damage – If you have accidental damage cover as part of your policy then you can make a claim should an accident occur
Of course, the best way of reducing the chances of a burst pipe is prevention. You can ensure that your home is protected by following the points made earlier in this blog and by checking regularly. By eliminating most if not all risks you can even save on your home insurance into the bargain.
Like Some More Home Insurance Help?
If you’d like some help getting the property insurance cover that’s right for you, then please contact your local Coversure office. They’ll be able to give you al the help you need to get the right cover at the right price.