The 3 most common insurance claims during winter

With one of Britain’s coldest winters well underway, we have witnessed temperatures drop, bringing harsh frosts, bitterly cold winds and widespread snow and we know that winter can be a challenging season for landlords as properties are at risk of damage following the cold temperatures and bad weather.

The Landlord Insurance claims team tends to see a spike in claims during the winter months of December, January and February, especially if a storm hits. For example, storm Desmond in 2015 resulted in widespread flooding and a large spike in storm insurance claims with 41% of all winter claims due to storm that year.

Over the last few years the three most common causes of insurance claims during winter are escape of water, storm and flood and burglary insurance claims.

Top winter claims

Escape of water claims

Escape of water claims consistently exceed all other claim types year on year, particularly in the winter months. 37% of all claims in the winter months of 2016 to 2017 were a result of escape of water. Common causes include burst pipes and boiler breakdowns.

In 2016 we received a claim for a boiler leak that had caused such severe damage, the bedroom ceiling collapsed and the property was deemed untenantable. Repairs included replacing the ceiling, all kitchen units, flooring and redecorating. Total Landlord Insurance also paid loss of rent as the tenant had to vacate the property while it was being repaired. We paid a total of £15,372.

Water can cause widespread damage so we recommend taking preventative measures to help avoid escape of water.

5 tips to help prevent escape of water:

  1. Avoid frozen pipes by maintaining a minimum temperature of 12˚C and keep internal doors open to allow warm air to circulate
  2. Isolate the water supply to any outside taps with an internal shut-off valve
  3. Make sure your property’s water tanks and pipes are lagged and insulated
  4. Service the boiler annually before the winter months
  5. In extreme conditions leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate right at the top of the house to help keep pipes warm

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Storm and flood insurance claims

Every winter Britain experiences a number of storms that often leads to flooding and serious damage to properties.

We received a large number of storm and flood insurance claims in 2015 after the devastation of storm Desmond hit Cumbria, with Carlisle being among the worst affected areas with several houses forced to evacuate. The entire downstairs of one of the properties was completely saturated with water leaving the property in ruins. It took months for the property to completely dry out and the downstairs had to be gutted. We paid a total of £143,755 for the material damage and loss of rent.

The effects of storms and flooding can be extremely severe but there are steps you can take to help prevent storm damage and flooding.

5 tips to help prevent storm damage and flooding:

  1. Clear your gutters, downspouts and drains of leaves, moss and twigs
  2. Inspect the condition of the roof looking for cracked and broken tiles and cracks in chimneys
  3. Make sure fence panels are fixed securely and garden gates are in good working order
  4. Consider cutting back low hanging or loose tree branches which could cause damage in high winds
  5. Advise tenants to secure outdoor items and bring loose items such as picnic tables and lawn furniture indoors to prevent damage

Burglary Insurance Claims

As it gets darker earlier in the winter months, well-lit windows in homes and properties displaying the goods inside are like shop windows for burglars.

In January 2016 we received a burglary insurance claim. The third party broke through the front door, entered the property and stole the boiler and pipe work. This caused an escape of water within the property which resulted in further damage. The property had to be redecorated and the front door, boiler and pipe work were replaced at a total cost of £8,180.

5 tips to help prevent burglaries:

  1. As a minimum install a visual burglar alarm to act as a deterrent, but ideally a working alarm as well as external security lights
  2. Get to know the neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on the property
  3. Ask tenants to keep valuables out of sight
  4. Advise tenants to lock all windows and doors securely when they leave the house
  5. Suggest that your tenants use lighting timers during the dark winter days and particularly if they are going to be absent from the property for longer periods

In the event of a winter insurance claim, call the Total Landlord Insurance claims team on 0345 310 6370 as soon as possible.