With long nights and icy temperatures, winter holds additional risks for our homes. When they’re holiday homes that are left empty during void periods or treated a little carelessly by tenants, those risks multiply. You need to look carefully at your insurance policy! Even better, don’t get into a position where you need to suffer damage and make a claim in the first place. The UK Property Guide’s partner Intasure offer a few tips on keeping your holiday home in Britain safe this winter.
At Intasure, we have over 15 years’ experience of providing insurance cover for holiday homes in the UK and across Europe. To help protect your property during these winter periods, here are our top tips:
- Ask your neighbours for help
Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on the place and make sure they know how to contact you in case of an emergency. You can also ask whoever looks after guest changes to pop their head in the door too, even if there aren’t any guests.
- Keep exteriors simple
Remove any items outside your property, which may attract unwanted attention and store them safely inside the property. That’s especially true with anything that could help someone to get in, such as ladders.
- Safe house keys
Do not leave any spare keys under a welcome mat or plant pot! If you currently use a key safe outside your property, you should consider removing all the keys if your property will be left empty for long periods. Asking your neighbour to look after the keys could be an option or bringing them to your main home for safekeeping. If you are worried about losing your keys, why not consider our Key Cover product, which you can add to your existing policy.
- Windows and doors locked
It is simple knowledge but make sure your property is locked up and secure when it is left unoccupied. Not only to help prevent a break in but also against unwanted visitors seeking a cosy place for the winter, such as rodents.
- Make an inventory
To help give you peace of mind for when you return to your holiday home, it is worth making a list of all the electrical and valuable goods you leave behind at your second home. Write a list that details such as brands, models and serial numbers of each valuable item. Take photos too, as this will help the police to find them if they are stolen, or help with claims if the worst was to happen.
Protect your holiday home this winter. Click here for a quote from our holiday home insurance partner, Intasure.
And probably most important of all…. 6. Protect your home from burst pipes!
Protection from burst pipes
When water held in pipes freezes, it expands, leading to the pipe cracking. As it later thaws, the pipe bursts and the water pours out, often under pressure. The result can be disastrous. Moreover, often the pipe does not burst at the point where it is frozen. What can happen is that water in one part of the pipe freezes, trapping water between the ice and the tap or faucet. As the ice expands, it puts increased pressure on the trapped water. When the pressure becomes too great, the pipe cracks and water can escape.
A burst pipe at any property is an experience best avoided, but in a holiday home that may only be visited sporadically, it can be particularly traumatic as some time can pass before the discovery of the damage. Taking preventative measures can help:
- Avoid the distress of seeing your holiday home damaged
- Keep the holiday home ready for use and enjoyment
There are two options to prevent this happening, either turn your water supply off and drain the system, or keep the heating on a low temperature continuously.
As a holiday home insurer, December to March are the months when our Winter Warranty condition applies. If you have holiday home insurance with us it’s important to make sure that you comply with the Winter Warranty in order to protect your property. Here is a reminder of the Intasure Winter Warranty:
HH940 Winter Warranty
In respect of Peril 6 section 1 & 2.
(a) We will not be liable for loss or damage unless
(i) For the period December to March inclusive the water supply is turned off at the mains and all fixed water tanks and pipes are drained (except central heating systems) should the Property be uninhabited (not lived in) for more than 48 hours.
(ii) For the period December to March inclusive the Home or Holiday Home is maintained at a minimum temperature of 59 degrees F (15 degrees C) at all times.
(b) For the period of December to March inclusive we will not cover the first £500 of any burst pipe or escape of water claim where the Property has been uninhabited (not lived in) for more than 48 hours.
What this means in practice
During the winter – December to March – if you leave your property uninhabited (not lived in) for 48 hours or longer you must comply with one of the following options:
Option 1 (i) Preferred Option
Turn water off at the mains, and drain all fixed water tanks and pipes.
This means turning off water supply and turning on hot and cold taps to drain tanks and pipes. (This will not affect your central heating system).
Option 2 (ii)
Maintain your heating at a minimum temperature of 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) – 24 hours a day.
During this period when temperatures can fall below freezing, having your heating on a timed basis can still cause pipes to freeze and burst. Therefore, heating on a timer basis during the winter period is not effective.
When temperatures are below freezing even with the heating on, pipes in the loft can still freeze. So it is advisable that you leave the loft hatch open, this will help prevent pipes bursting in the roof space.
Other precautions you can take to help prevent freezing pipes include making sure that pipes in the loft, basement areas or other cold spaces of the property are properly lagged, with lagging in good condition. For particularly exposed areas there are products on the market that can offer protection against freezing pipes.
Whichever option you choose in order to comply with the Winter Warranty, December is the time to put it into practice as preventing a claim is better than making a claim, help keeping your property safe, and your premiums down.
We hope you have found this helpful but if you have any questions about your insurance cover please contact us.
* Terms and Conditions apply. For limitations and exclusions, please read the policy documents for full details.
The sole purpose of this blog is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.