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Diana Zagorodnya

How to maintain your home to avoid being uninsured

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Did you know that you could be risking invalidating your home insurance policy if you don’t maintain your home in reasonable condition?

Maintaining your home to avoid being underinsured

The idea of carrying out some home maintenance may be unappealing, especially during the cold months.

But if you let your house fall apart, this is exactly the type of thing that could invalidate your insurance.

Here are some of the most common ways to keep your home in tip-top condition.

Roof and gutters

Repairing a roof

Claims due to poor, damaged roofs or guttering are unlikely to be covered by your buildings insurance policy. This is because it’s considered general wear and tear.

To avoid being stung by a hefty bill, it’s crucial to be literally on top of your roof and gutters, checking for things like:

  • slipped, missing or unsafe tiles

  • loose or cracked flashings and concrete

  • any leaks or blockages such as leaves in your gutters and drains

  • downpipes and supporting brackets need to be secure

  • If you have any flat roof areas, keep an eye out for any puddles which could cause leaking.

    If you have a chimney, get it swept once a year. This should reduce the risk of fire in the flue, and stop poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide from entering the home.

    Service your boiler

    Home emergency cover

    Get your boiler serviced annually to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown, but check that your engineer is on the Gas Safe Register.

    Speak to your home insurer to see if you boiler is already covered by your policy. Otherwise, consider a standalone boiler insurance which could include things like free repairs, and sometimes an annual service.

    Avoid pipe disasters

    When pipes freeze, they can crack and burst, allowing water to escape through the house.

    This could affect your ceilings, walls, as well as furniture and carpets, running into tens of thousands of pounds in damage.

    Frozen pipes

    If you have a frozen pipe which hasn’t burst

    Thaw it out using gentle heat such as towels soaked in warm water or a hairdryer. Don’t use extreme measures such as a blow torch, which could damage the pipes.

    If a pipe bursts in your home

    First thing to do is to turn off your mains water supply at the stopcock, and turn off your central heating. Open taps to drain the system.

    Don’t forget to contact your home insurance to arrange repairs.

    Note that if you call out your own plumber before talking to your insurer, your policy may not cover you for damage resulting from tracing the leak.

    For instance, if floorboards have to be ripped up to get at the broken pipework.

    Reduce the risk of your home’s pipes bursting by:

    • Ensuring pipes and tanks are in a good state of repair, and turn off the water supply.

    • Check the insulation on your water pipes and the lagging on your cold water tank.

    • Repair any dripping taps and faulty ball valves.

    • If your property is likely to be empty for a while over the winter, consider draining the heating and water system.

    • Make sure you’re covered

      House held in human hands

      Don’t forget to check that you’re covered for the full value of your contents.

      Not all home policies cover domestic disasters so you may want to take out home emergency cover.

      This generally covers boiler breakdown, along with emergencies relating to the main heating system, plumbing and drainage, roof damage, as well as domestic power supplies.

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