Frozen pipes to widescale flooding: The perils of extreme winter weather
It’s been a busy period for Your Claim, not least because the elements have been causing all sorts of problems for our policyholders this December.
The extremely cold weather in the last few weeks has been unusual for this time of year, but what’s perhaps even stranger is the way our temperatures have jumped from minus numbers to well over ten degrees – and all in less than a day, in some regions.
Aside from leading to uncomfortable living conditions – especially in an era where many of us are having to choose between putting the heating on or putting food on the table – sub-zero conditions can wreak havoc with our homes. From broken down boilers to condensation and clogged gutters, our properties can be significantly affected by an overly cold climate.
Watch out for burst pipes in the depths of winter
Burst pipes are one of the most common by-products of this Arctic-like weather. Water can freeze within the pipes themselves, leading them to crack and burst – and the problem is made worse by freeze/thaw conditions, like we’ve seen recently.
In these cases, things can go from bad to worse very quickly, particularly if a lot of water is escaping into the home.
This situation at a tenanted bungalow springs to mind. Thousands of gallons ruined the fabric of the building and left the place completely uninhabitable. It was only when the tenant returned from a period of time away from the property they were able to raise the alarm, by which time the kitchen and bathroom had been compromised beyond repair, as well as the ceilings in four rooms. Luckily, Your Claim was on hand to help the landlord navigate this new nightmare – but it was by no means a quick process to get the property back to its previous state.
For more information on how water damage can manifest, watch this video from Graham.
If the worst should happen, would your insurance company really be there to help you pick up the pieces?
Even when we hear of horror stories like the above, we still think to ourselves: “I’ll be OK – I’ve got the right insurance in place”. But can you be sure that your cover will provide you with adequate support if you end up in similar circumstances?
One of the big issues our loss assessors are seeing at the moment is with unoccupancy clauses. If you or your family leaves your property vacant for a certain amount of time – usually 30 or 60 days – it is very likely that your provider will pay out on less-than-favourable terms if the unimaginable happens. So, if you decide to take a trip away for the Christmas holidays, or enjoy a bit of winter sun in the New Year, you could not only come back to a property that has been ravaged by flooding, but a series of upsetting conversations with your insurer that eventually leave you out of pocket.
It’s a sad fact, but we’re also experiencing situations whereby insurers are challenging the sums insured. This is why it’s incredibly important to pre-vet your policy cover and make sure your home and its contents have been appropriately insured; it’s the only way to ensure you get a fair and reasonable payout if you ever need to draw on the policy.
In addition, be sure to check your contract for any wording that alludes to your insurer NOT being liable to replace damaged items to match.
Our biggest piece of advice? Speak to Your Claim first
If a burst pipe or any other issue in your home has led to flooding or water damage, we highly recommend contacting our team BEFORE calling your insurer.
We can quickly carry out a full inventory of the damage to determine precisely what can be salvaged and what needs to be replaced like for like. We will survey the area thoroughly to ensure we have a clear picture of what will be needed to restore the property, then present this to your insurance company for consideration.
If they do decide to dispute what we’ve found, we can answer any questions or handle any pushback on your behalf, taking much of the stress out of what can be a very tiring and frustrating process at the best of times.
We can also assist with securing the property and beginning any necessary restoration works. For example, one of the first things we will do in instances of water damage is get rid of all the soft furnishings that are just holding onto water. We will remove things like curtains and carpets and enlist the help of a professional, fully qualified damage restoration drying company who will look to mitigate any additional damage (and use the correct equipment to do so).
We wish you a happy, healthy, and incident-free winter ahead. But if you do find yourself requiring support from expert loss assessors after an escape of water at your property, know that Your Claim is always here to help.