HOME INSURANCE NEWS
Your home insurance policy gives you the assurance of protection should something go wrong and you need to make a claim; in fact approx. 1 in 20 insured homeowners in the UK make a claim each year. But there are some simple steps you can take now to protect your bricks and mortar from the worst the winter weather throws its way, whether that’s a build-up of autumn leaves, torrential rain, ice or snow.
Get your home ready for winter
The clocks have gone back so now is the perfect time to get your home ready for the dark winter days and nights, and it could save you trouble – and money – in the longer term.
1. Bleed radiators to clear trapped air, improve circulation and maximise heat output. You could also put kitchen foil behind radiators to reflect heat away from the wall and back into the room.
2. Get your chimney swept if you have an open fire or log burner. Sweeping will improve your chimney or flue efficiency and help prevent chimney fires (plus it’s much easier for Santa to deliver your presents!). Your sweep should provide a certificate which you’ll need to make an insurance claim relating to a chimney fire.
3. Clear gutters and downpipes from the build-up of autumn leaves and debris which can lead to water ingress into tiles and bricks. Replace cracked or damaged gutters and brackets to avoid causing damp.
4. Book a boiler service. Spotting and repairing potential issues during a service should keep your heating and hot water in good shape – and no heating in the middle of winter is no fun.
5. Make sure outdoor lights are working correctly to light paths and steps to avoid preventable slips, trips and falls.
6. Insulate outdoor taps which can freeze and even burst in cold weather, and know where your stop cock is and make sure it can be turned off easily should you need to do so in an emergency.
CAR INSURANCE NEWS
Did you know the RAC sees a sharp increase in the volume of breakdowns when the weather turns cold? Even with the reassurance of breakdown cover, it’s well worth taking the time to carry out some basic vehicle checks before temperatures plummet, as any underlying mechanical issues could escalate and become costly to fix in the cold weather – not to mention the inconvenience factor of delayed journeys.
5 winter driving tips
Don’t fall foul of winter weather; a few checks before you set off will help you arrive at your destination safely.
1. Always demist your windscreen before driving off to ensure proper vision (and being able to see clearly is the law!). The quickest way is to start your heater off on a cold setting and aim vents directly at the windscreen (cold air is drier than warm air so won’t add to the moisture causing the problem). Gradually increase the temperature.
2. Make sure your car is winter-ready. The RAC use the acronym FORCES to remind drivers of the checks they should make before starting out on a winter journey:
Fuel – check you have plenty of fuel in the tank or battery charge for the journey ahead, and allow for unexpected delays or detours
Oil – check the oil level on the dipstick is between the min and max marks and top up if necessary
Rubber – verify your tyre pressure with your owner’s handbook, and check tyres for min tread depth, wear and tear, cracks and bulges, and check wiper blades are in good condition without splits or cracks
Coolant – although it’s a sealed system, always check coolant levels before a long journey while the vehicle is still cold
Electrics – check lights are working and clean, particularly important in the winter when dirt, salt and snow can build up reducing their effectiveness
Screenwash – check your screen wash levels and top up with a quality screen wash additive or pre-mix which is effective down to at least -15 degrees Celsius to avoid the screen wash freezing solid as temperatures plummet
3. In poor weather, plan your route and stick to main roads which will usually be kept clear of debris, regularly gritted and probably benefit from some street lighting.
4. Use your fog lights only when it’s foggy and remember to switch them off once the fog has cleared. Increase the gap between you and the car in front to give you extra stopping time.
5. If your car hasn’t been serviced for a while, book a service or a winter check with your local garage or dealership to spot any potential problems early and make sure your car is winter-ready.