It’s that time of year when we’re all wrapped up in woolly coats, scarves and boots, craving hot drinks and sipping soup. We stock up on firewood and gas and then huddle next to our heaters or fireplaces at night. There are lots of plus sides to winter, the main one being that it only lasts a few months. But there are also downsides. One of them is that there are increased risks of damage to your home from things such as fire and burst water pipes. Here are some home insurance related risks experienced during Winter and how to avoid them.
Everyone loves a roaring fire at night to warm up the house. But fires can be extremely hazardous if left unchecked; there are many examples of serious damage caused to homes and cars and even loss of life due to fire. One of the most recent was the massive fire in the coastal town of St Francis Bay in 2018, which caused damage worth millions of Rands, with many people claiming from their home insurance.
If you have a fireplace in your home, we urge you to make sure you’ve put the fire out properly before going to bed. Also be sure to put a grate in front of the fireplace so sparks don’t fly off and set carpets or furniture alight. The same applies to bonfires, braais and even candles – before you leave your home or go to bed, make sure that the fire has been put out and is not a risk to anybody or anything.
Fires aren’t the only things that can cause damage. Gas heaters are another common hazard, especially if they’re placed too close to curtains or flammable furniture. The same applies to electric blankets – if left on during the day or unattended for long periods, they can malfunction and cause fires.
Water can be just as damaging as fire. In winter, water in our household pipes often gets so cold that it freezes, which then causes the pipes to burst. To prevent this problem, we suggest that clients in colder areas install insulation over the pipes in their roof voids. This will keep the pipes warmer and stop the water from freezing.
What many people don’t realize is that, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for any maintenance to your home, which in turn impacts your home insurance. If any damage is caused to your home due to neglecting the maintenance of your home properly, you run the risk that your insurer may not pay out your claim in all instances.
So, it’s a good idea to arrange for a contractor to inspect your roof for any maintenance-related problems during the Highveld winters when rainfall is lower. Also check that your waterproofing is working well and clear your gutters of leaves and other debris, so that when the rainy months come, you’re well prepared.
Making these small adjustments before Winter will mean a safer and more enjoyable Winter for you, your home and your family. Stay Safe and Warm!