All of us here at Connect are wishing you a claim-free Christmas.
As the dark nights draw in earlier, and the weather becomes colder and wetter, the likelihood of a claim increases. Whether it’s due to poorer visibility, black ice, impatience or thieves – statistics show that claims occur much more frequently over the winter months.
“Last year, £933,000 was paid out each day for thefts in the run-up to Christmas, with insurers receiving almost 500 claims per day.”
Claims are not limited to motor vehicles, there are also significant increases in home insurance incidents over the Christmas period. These typically include burglaries, burst pipes, flooding and house fires. Worse still are the spate of thefts that occur during and immediately after Christmas by heartless thieves who know expensive gifts will be bought around this time.
“Analysis of thousands of customer claims since 2013 reveals that home theft claims increase by 34% in the five months after the clocks go back”
This winter, we hope you take note of our tips below to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free Christmas
Ice, Ice, Baby...
Road conditions become very treacherous over the winter period as rain, snow and ice all contribute to deterioration of the surfacing, and also present their own challenges. Black ice is of particular note, as large stretches of road can become effectively an ice rink when the surface freezes. The key thing to remember if you hit black ice is do not brake, and try to keep the steering wheel straight.
“data also reveals that around the time of the clocks going back, frequency of motor claims increase by 10% due to road traffic accidents”
Heavy rain can seriously affect visibility, along with the potential for flooding in low altitude areas. The likelihood of flooding is also increased by snow and ice that has accumulated at the roadside which then rapidly melts on warmer days. As your car may become stranded by bad weather, it is always wise to carry provisions with you. Ideally you would have equipment to help free your car including tyre chains, traction mats and a snow shovel. It is also important to pack the simpler things such as blankets, water, and food for whilst you wait for your breakdown service to arrive.
Burning Down The House...
Tragically, a large number of claims happen each Christmas due to carelessness in respect of open flames, or overloading electrical sockets with decorations. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be traditional, but be sure you do not inadvertently ignite surrounding fabrics or decorations. The same applies to scented candles that typically make an appearance around the festive period. Yankee Candles may smell good; burning possessions however, do not. There have also been instances of faulty fairy lights causing fires. especially ones that have been brought down from a damp attic; it is advisable to always stay alert.
“claims for fire damage also surge in the week before Christmas, due to unguarded candles and fairy lights. The average value of fire claims over the Christmas period in 2013 was £3,209, but these claims can easily exceed £50,000”
Flooding can also occur as a result of burst pipes which we will look at in a moment. In the event of a flood, gas can become trapped inside the home. Never use open flames if your home has flooded, and ensure electrical appliances do not come into contact with water to avoid electrocution.
Fire’s are also more common over the festive period due to the storage and use of fireworks. Typically we set off fireworks to welcome in the New Year; over Christmas there is a heightened amount of claims caused by, or relating to fireworks. Ensure any fireworks are stored appropriately, and are only handled and used by a responsible adult.
Hold Back The River...
When did you last check your central heating or bleed the radiators? It is common over the winter period for pipes to freeze, especially if they run outside of your home. Frozen pipes can leak and burst which could cause substantial damage to your home and possessions. It is recommended to keep your heating on a minimum of 15 degrees to ensure your pipes do not freeze up. Naturally having the heating on constantly can become expensive, so a cheaper alternative is to wrap pipes in cold areas with lagging where possible to keep them insulated.
“during freezing weather spells as many as 3,500 claims have been recorded for burst pipe damage in a single day, costing the average household £7,000”
To help prevent your boiler from breaking down, try to have your heating on for at least an hour each day. This will keep it running smoothly and also help keeping your pipes unfrozen. And remember, your boiler performs best at a pressure of 1 bar. If your pipes freeze, the water pressure will increase and eventually result in a leak or burst. Knowing the location of your stopcock can be very handy in these eventualities as you can quickly stop the water supply to minimise the damage caused.
Another common issue with leaks and water damage over winter is caused by autumnal debris still residing in gutters. If you have not cleared away fallen leaves and other detritus, water is likely to overflow around the blockage which can then penetrate into your home causing damp and structural issues. Play it safe, and find the 10 minutes to check the gutters are clear.
“With Christmas just weeks away, the UK is looking to spend a total of £21 billion on lavish gifts for friends, family and even themselves. According to our research, the average person is planning to spend £323 on Christmas presents this year”