Safety first: the top 10 winter insurance claims
From the ‘big freeze’ a few years ago to more recent Christmas floods, a British winter can be anything but predictable. It’s a case of getting on with it come what may, which means taking sensible precautions to keep safe both in the home and when out on the road.
Should the worst happen, the right type and level of insurance cover gives you that all-important layer of protection. But as this list of ten common winter claims demonstrates, prevention (as always) is better than cure; so read on to find out not just what can go wrong — but also how to reduce the chances of having to make a claim in the first place.
Rear end impacts
The police and DVSA remind us to maintain safe stopping distances ten times greater than normal on snow and ice-covered roads. The spike in the number of tail-end shunts in wintry conditions shows how important it is to heed this advice. Taking it slow and steady is essential for staying safe, and for keeping your no claims bonus intact. For more information on how to drive to safely in tough conditions, we have an article on that very topic.
If there’s a fault with your car, it’s very likely that harsh winter conditions will expose it, potentially leaving you stranded in the cold; something none of us wants to experience. Adequate breakdown cover therefore becomes more important than ever — especially for specialist vehicles. But we know that prevention is the key in these situations, to avoiding them in the first place. So it’s important to check that your service and maintenance schedule is up to date; and pay particular attention to include anti-freeze and tyre condition. We know that it’s not something anybody wants to do on a wintry Saturday morning, but taking the time can be really beneficial in the long run.
Collisions with objects
Kia demonstrated that almost half of winter car accidents are a result of skidding. The increase in the number of vehicles striking lamp posts, embankments, ditches, and parked cars at this time of year illustrates this. A minor knock and subsequent hit on your insurance premium need not be inevitable. It’s a case of adjusting your driving behaviour to match the conditions; by setting off in second gear, and investing in winter tyres for that vital extra traction on treacherous surfaces.
Incidents at junctions
“Failed to look properly” usually tops the list of reasons for road traffic accidents — especially when it comes to motorists pulling out at junctions. Freezing fog, low sun, spray from slushy roads, and long dark nights can all hinder visibility. Extra vigilance helps reduce the risk, along with not taking any chances and ensuring your screen wash levels remain topped up. Bear in mind that it’s an offence to set off without ensuring all your windows are clear.
Police warnings to motorists who leave cars unattended are a staple of local news in the winter time – and it’s an offence to leave a running car unattended. On a freezing morning, it’s all too tempting to switch the car on, get the heater going and then head back inside to finish your coffee in the warmth. It’s a blatant risk, and although your motor cover protects against theft, your insurers will almost certainly restrict liability if the car is left open, unattended, and with the keys in the ignition.
A little extra care and preparation come winter time certainly can go a long way in reducing the chances of having to claim, while also keeping your no claims discounts down. What’s more, with Club Care, careful owners are rewarded with lower premiums across a range of areas. For more details of the savings available, head on over to the Club Care Insurance site.
In winter, this problem is most often caused by the water inside pipes reaching or getting close to freezing point, thereby increasing pressure inside the pipe. If pressure gets too high, the pipe will rupture. If it goes undetected, water loss from a burst pipe can be the equivalent of two full baths an hour — pretty important then for water usage.
A comprehensive home insurance policy will cover escape of water, but simple steps can eliminate the chances of your pipes freezing up. Piping in unheated areas such as your loft and garage should be lagged for instance, while keeping your heating on to at least 12 degrees centigrade should hopefully prevent pipe temperatures falling into the danger zone. The best piece of advice is to keep checking them, even if it’s just for your own peace of mind.
As we’ve seen over the last couple of years, autumn and winter can bring increased occurrences of violent storms blowing in from the Atlantic. Storm damage is usually covered under your household policy, although insurers are always careful to stipulate that keeping your home in good condition remains your responsibility. As such, if a dilapidated roof or poorly maintained guttering gives way in a storm, it can be harder to make a claim. So just keep a watchful eye on home maintenance.
As winter approaches, prioritise any repair work that needs doing. You might want to pay particular attention to external fences and gates, as these tend to be excluded from claims for storm damage.
Flood coverage is one of the most vital elements of any household insurance policy. There’s nothing you can do about rising water levels, but there are steps you can take to reduce flood damage if the worst happens. From stocking up on sandbags to sealing your walls, the Homeowners Association has produced a helpful summary of flood damage prevention measures for homeowners.
Two fires a day in England are caused by electric blankets, while 7,700 chimney fires occur every year. Coverage for fire comes as standard with your policy, but as winter approaches, it’s more important than ever to ensure chimneys and flues are well maintained due to potential blockages resulting from bad weather. Also, don’t forget to follow manufacturers’ guidelines for safe use of heating appliances. It’s a simple tip often overlooked.
Thieves know that homes can provide rich pickings during winter, especially as Christmas approaches. Prevention-wise, it’s a case of maintaining your guard and keeping valuables out of reach. For extra protection and reassurance around Christmas, the amount covered as part of Club Care’s home contents insurance is automatically increased by £1,000 during December. This one really is worth looking further into.