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10 top tips to keep your home safe

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With winter being one of the biggest threats to the health of your home, it's an ideal time to check that your home insurance is fit for purpose.
  1. Make sure you’re ticking all the boxes As winter sets in, check your policy wording to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes. Many home insurance companies will require you to lock all windows and doors when you are out of the house, and may not pay out if they find that you’ve failed to do so.
  2. Protect your presents It is vital that you review the sum you have insured, especially over the festive season when guests stay over and Christmas presents add to the value of items in your house, and inform your insurance company to ensure you are fully covered. The better policies will automatically increase your sum insured during the Christmas period. New items worth more than any single item limit – such as expensive jewellery or electronics – will need to be specified individually in the policy. Now is also the time to check that your escape of water excess is what you expect it to be.
  3. Take action to reduce your premium If your insurance policy looks set to increase significantly, make sure you’ve done all you can to keep costs down. It’s a good idea to fit smoke and burglar alarms, and to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best value for money – which isn’t necessarily the same as the cheapest option.
  4. Take steps to avoid burst pipes There are a number of steps you can take to avoid the disruption and the cost of burst pipes. Fit lagging to pipes, tanks and cisterns, and leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate and to prevent freezing, and repair any dripping taps before they cause a problem. Loft insulation should be thick and in good condition, and it should be laid on top of pipes, not underneath them. This will prevent heat escaping and condensation gathering. If you are going away for the festive season, keep your central heating thermostat at a minimum of 10 degrees to prevent pipes freezing in a cold snap, and open the loft hatch to keep pipes and tanks in the attic warm. If you’re going to be away for more than a few days, ask a friend or neighbour to come and check the house for you. Now is also the time to service your boiler if you haven’t already done so this year. This means you can be confident that it is in full working order before a cold snap.
  5. Look for danger outside your home Make sure all your drains and gutters are clear of leaves to prevent blockages and flooding. You should also check the roof for cracked or broken tiles that could be dislodged in high winds and cause serious damage, and cut back any nearby trees to minimise the risk of falling branches. In windy conditions, stow away any loose items that you have in the garden. Garden furniture can be damaged by adverse weather conditions, and dislodged flower pots can damage other items. You should also check that all your windows and doors have been properly sealed to avoid leaks.
  6. Don’t let a cosy festive scene become a fire hazard An open fire is one of the joys of the festive season, but it can also present a real danger. Always ensure a fireguard is in place when you need to leave a fire unattended, and make sure your fire alarm is working properly.
  7. Know what to do in an emergency Sometimes, there is nothing to do to prevent an emergency, but you can minimise the damage and the heartache if you know what to do in advance. Make sure you and everyone in your family who might be at home alone knows where your main stopcock is. If a pipe bursts, you need to shut off the water supply and turn all the cold taps on. Recent years have seen devastating floods across the UK, and it’s a good idea to be ready for the worst.
  8. Prepare a Flood Kit containing everything you might need, including key personal and insurance documents, warm, waterproof clothing, wellies and a first aid kit.
  9. Check your existing home insurance policy Shop around for more comprehensive/better value cover 
  10. Follow the top tips!

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