Simon Hird is director, broker and intermediary, at Legal & General Insurance
The arrival of autumn often means wrapping up warm and welcoming cosy nights in, but the seasonal change is also a good opportunity for homeowners to make sure their homes are protected ahead of the cold and stormy months.
People’s homes have become more important than ever this year, so it’s vital to protect them in the event of any seasonal damage. For advisers, it’s a chance to help homeowners make some simple changes that will help ensure their homes are autumn ready.
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Home maintenance is key
Making sure clients are aware of their responsibility to keep their properties well-maintained is crucial, as most buildings insurance policies won’t cover damage that’s caused by maintenance issues or wear and tear. For example, water damage caused from leaks due to loose roof tiles, or damp in the house from blocked gutters, won’t be covered if the homeowner has neglected these areas. Given that autumn brings blustery winds and heavy rainfall with it, homeowners need to ensure their home is ready for what the season may bring.
Homeowners should ensure that windows and door frames, especially old ones are sealed, with no gaps that could let water in – this will help protect against weather damage.
However, it’s not just leaks that homeowners need to be looking out for. Ahead of chillier climes, homeowners should check that their loft insulation is within the right dimensions and that pipes are always fully lagged, as this will help to create a draught-free and energy-efficient home.
Although it may not be time to switch the heating on just yet, it’s a good idea for homeowners to check whether the boiler and radiators are in working order, as this could help flag any issues before the winter weather nears and give homeowners peace of mind.
Preparing for a storm
British weather is uncertain at the best of times, but recent years have shown us that the autumn and winter months can mean extreme weather conditions. As the UK experiences harsher and more frequent stormy weather, advisers should make sure their clients take pre-emptive measures to avoid any potential damage, particularly if they live in flood prone areas.
By keeping a stock of filled sandbags to seal doors or installing flood defence measures, such as door barriers, airbrick covers and raised electrical sockets, homeowners can help prevent, or at least reduce, the damage caused by water entering the home.
It’s also a good idea to advise clients on making sure they keep all valuables and copies of important documents, such as their insurance policy and bank details, locked away on an upper floor in a waterproof container.
As well as keeping the home sufficiently maintained against weather damage, it’s also essential to consider the security of the property, especially during the long winter nights. During a normal winter season, many people take the opportunity to escape the UK’s cold climate for some winter sun.
Although this may be more difficult this year, if homeowners do manage to go on holiday, advisers could suggest clients ask their friends to keep an eye on their property whilst they’re away if it’s safe to do so, to ward off potential thieves. Installing timing devices that switch interior lights on and off at pre-determined intervals can also help to deter any intruders.
On a day-to-day basis, doors and windows should always be kept locked when out of the house, with deadlocks installed on all external doors. Enhanced security measures such as high-spec locks and alarm systems can also help too.
Having the right cover
No matter how much planning or preventative measures are put in place, there’s still a chance that these precautions may not be enough to avoid damage or theft. It’s essential for advisers to ensure their client’s home insurance policy covers their property and belongings for any unexpected events.
Advisers should be regularly prompting clients to consider what type and level of cover they need -asking simple questions such as the estimated value of the contents of their home and whether they have any single high-value items, can go a long way towards ensuring they’re adequately protected as the days become colder and the nights get longer.
Homeowners often underestimate the value and peace of mind that insurance can bring. Advisers are in a unique position to tackle this issue and ensure that clients are properly protected. By having open conversations with clients, advisers will be able to provide a holistic service that delivers the best insurance solutions for their individual needs.