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Is your home winter-ready?

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Maintaining your property is crucial, as home insurance does not cover damage caused by poor upkeep
Is your home winter-ready?

As the UK prepares for winter and Christmas, now is a good time to do some basic household maintenance checks to make sure your property is prepared for the colder weather.

It also makes sense to check the fine print on your contents and buildings insurance to ensure it is fit for purpose, said Go Compare.

Some policies offer a lot more as standard than others, as the price comparison site’s research revealed.

It’s an emergency

The one thing most homes can’t be without is a boiler – and that’s where home emergency cover comes in handy. Home Emergency cover is slightly different to general home contents insurance, as it covers you for any sudden or urgent issues with the gas, electricity and water. Blocked drains, boiler breakdowns and electrical failures will generally be covered under a home emergency policy, but as always with any product like this, it’s important to double check what you are covered for as policies vary.

This type of policy typically gives customers access to a 24-hour helpline providing a call-out service for emergency repairs by local trades people at an agreed call-out charge. It covers the costs of contractors’ call-out and labour charges and for parts and materials up to the sum insured.

Just 17% of home contents insurance policies automatically include home emergency cover but 47% offer this type of cover as an additional extra.

Christmas is coming

83% of home contents policies offer an increase in the amount it will pay out for contents cover for a month before and a month after Christmas, to cover extra gifts bought before and those presents that you have in the house afterwards. Some offer a percentage increase, others specify the amount it increases the cover by, but it is available on most home contents policies as standard.

A festive freezer full

Christmas is a time when the home freezer gets a hammering, as we stock it up ready for the festive season. But what happens if there’s a power cut and your freezer contents get ruined, or it decides to give up the ghost a few weeks before Xmas?

Thankfully 93% (336) of home contents policies cover freezer contents as standard, with 258 of those policies offering cover of £750 or more for the ruined food.

And if your freezer packs up, 336 of the 362 home contents policies on the market will cover it as standard, with 11 offering it as an optional addition to your policy.

Telly time

Winter and Christmas is also a time when most of us gather around the TV to watch our favourite Christmas special or box set or dance around the settee listening to your favourite tunes. But if your TV gets damaged or broken in an accident, will your home contents insurance cover you?

The majority will, as 69% (251) policies cover accidental damage to technology and entertainment systems as standard, with 105 offering you to add the cover as an additional extra. Six home contents policies offer no accidental cover for your home tech and entertainment.

Visiting time

Many British homes will be pleased to be opening their doors to friends and family again this winter, as a reduction in restrictions means that visitors can again stay for Christmas, but are their belongings covered by your home contents insurance should something go awry?

Luckily 81% (292) home contents policies do cover for the loss or damage of visitors’ personal effects, with 117 policies offering cover of £2500 or more.

Winter home maintenance

There are also ways in which you can help try and avoid calling on your home insurance this year and do some basic checks to get your home winter ready this year. The price comparison has published its top tips for homeowners to ensure their property and home cover are both winter-ready.

  • Central heating – Get a boiler service in line with manufacturer guidance (usually once a year) and check to see if radiators and thermostats are working efficiently.
  • Insulate loft spaces, water tanks, pipes, and outdoor taps.
  • If you have a wood burner or open fire, ensure the chimney is swept annually.
  • Maintain your home’s exterior – replace cracked windows, fix any leaks on the roof, etc. Clear gutters of leaves and other debris, and repair/replace any damaged sections of guttering.
  • Help garden buildings and structures weather the winter by repairing any damage, replacing rotten wood, securing hinges, etc.
  • Protect any delicate plants against frost and ice.

Ryan Fulthorpe, GoCompare’s home insurance expert said: “We can all rejoice that this winter and Christmas will be a bit brighter than the last, as we are able to go out and about and see family and friends again. But that doesn’t mean we can forget the basics to get your house and home insurance ship shape ready for winter.

“Extreme weather conditions have become more commonplace in recent years, so knowing that you have the right cover in place if anything does go wrong can really put your mind at ease. In particular, home emergency cover can pay for the cost of call out fees which can be expensive in the dead of winter, so it’s worth checking your policy to see if it’s included already and if not, whether you want to add it onto your existing cover.”

Ryan added: “In addition to this, it’s worth spending some time getting your home winter ready as any damage that’s caused by wear and tear, or problems caused by a lack of maintenance are among the main reasons for insurers rejecting household claims. Home insurance provides financial protection against damage from major events like fires, storms, or floods – but it does not cover damage caused by day-to-day use or poor upkeep.”

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