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water damage holiday homes

water damage holiday homesIf you’ve ever had a water leak issue in your own home, you’ll know that small problems can quickly escalate when it comes to water damage. It’s therefore little surprise that `escape of water’ causes approximately £2 million of water damage to UK properties every day*. That’s a staggering £23 every second! They also account for 21% of all property insurance claims. (*Association of British Insurers – ABI).

So what are the most common causes of water damage in holiday homes? How can you reduce the risk in yours?

Those dreaded frozen pipes…

It’s that time of year when frost appears and temperatures can plummet dipping the mercury well beneath freezing overnight. This can be a real issue for holiday homes if left unoccupied. Frozen pipes being one of the most common and expensive causes of water damage in the UK each year.

To ensure you don’t fall foul of our cooler climate always make sure that your:

  • pipes are sufficiently lagged
  • heating is left on to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes from freezing
  • holiday home is regularly inspected both externally and internally

Remember saving a few pennies on heating costs can lead to far greater loss through water damage. If you don’t leave the heating on make sure the water is turned off and the system is drained.

  • Check your holiday home insurance policy document for full conditions to which you must comply to maintain full cover.

Here’s some more useful information on protecting your holiday home from frozen and burst pipes:

Poor workmanship…

Just like any other area of your holiday home – whether it be your website, your furnishings or your electrics – quality is the key when it comes to avoiding water damage. All maintenance and any changes to your cottage plumbing should be carried out by a professional using appropriate quality materials. Incorrectly installed plastic plumbing and poor quality underfloor heating have contributed to an increase in water damage.

Pipework fatigue and failure

Another common cause of water loss in holiday homes is pipework failure. This will often happen at the point at which one pipe meets another and where the joint is weaker than the pipe itself. Flexible hose tails, often used in confined spaces such as wash basins and to connect washing machines and dishwashers are two common culprits when it comes to failure over time and should therefore be regularly checked and replaced if needed.

Valves and ball cocks are also prone to failure, with all resulting in leaks that can have the potential to escalate quickly if not identified, which is an issue in unoccupied holiday homes and therefore places an increased importance on regularly checking the property yourself or appointing this responsibility to somebody else.

Lack of regular maintenance

We’ve already highlighted the importance of conducting regular checks on your holiday home. These checks not only prevent issues with escaping water, but also identify them early before potential damage can escalate, so it’s unsurprising that a lack of regular maintenance can also cause issues. When was the last time you checked all of the taps, pipe joints, flexible braided hoses, ball cocks and any other potential plumbing nightmares in your cottage? If the answer isn’t within the past few months, then the time is now to avoid any future damage and disruption.

Our free water leak action pack could help reduce water damage in your holiday home

We’re always keen to help our holiday homeowners before issues occur, which is why we offer our policy holders a free Water Leak Action Pack which contains:

  • Guidance on preventing water leaks
  • What to do if you, your housekeeper or guests discover a leak
  • Somewhere to record where your stopcock is to be found
  • Labels and stickers to clearly mark your stopcock
  • Somewhere to record contact numbers in case of a leak

There’s a good chance we have already supplied you with a free Water Leak Action Pack for your holiday home, are you using yours? Find out more here.

Boshers are specialist providers of holiday home insurance. For information on how we can help protect your holiday let business ,call us on 01237 429444.

big freeze

big freezeHoliday homeowners please be proactive as the country braces itself for a big freeze and snow for the remainder of February.

The advice comes as the Met Office forecast temperatures across much of the UK to plummet well below freezing and have issued a Yellow Warning for persistent snow showers in the East. Conditions such as these can lead to pipes in your vacant holiday home to freeze and burst.

At the height of the La Niña cold spell in 2010 UK insurers dealt with 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage every day (£1 billion paid out in Nov/Dec alone) *ABI.

Whilst many holiday homes are let to guests throughout much of the year, the period between Half Term and Easter is less popular, properties are often empty and therefore more exposed to extreme weather.

Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd explained; “We see more burst pipe and escape of water insurance claims than any other. Whilst the damage caused can be significant there are several simple steps holiday homeowners can take in order to minimise their risk.”

Avoiding burst pipes during the big freeze

The firm has issued guidance including a number of steps you can take in order to reduce the chances of potential damage:

  • Turn off the stopcock and drain the water and heating system; or
  • Leave the heating on to maintain a temperature throughout your holiday home sufficient to prevent pipes from freezing (above 7c).
  • If your holiday home is to be unoccupied during the winter ensure you turn the water off at the stopcock even if you leave your heating on (where your heating system allows).
  • Ensure you arrange for regular checks to be made on the property during any period in which it isn’t occupied.
  • Look to lag and insulate pipes, boilers and storage tanks, particularly if exposed to the elements.
  • Make sure your heating and water systems are regularly checked by a professional and consider installing a leak detection system or automatic stopcock, particularly if you live away from the property.
  • Refer to your holiday home insurance policy for conditions specific to your cover

Mark added “The damage caused by burst pipes can be significant to any holiday homeowner, potentially leaving areas of your home uninhabitable for a considerable amount of time. Being proactive in reacting to potentially severe weather could save you considerable potential cost and disruption.”

For more information on Boshers Guidance on property checks during extreme weather please visit:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. We’re here to help and support you as a holiday homeowner. If you require advice or an insurance quote please give us a call on 01237 429444.

flexible braided hose

flexible braided hosesWhy should holiday homeowners be concerned about flexible braided hoses? No matter the size of your holiday home there’s one thing that we can guarantee; it’s going to have a kitchen, bathroom and no doubt an ensuite or two! Within these you’ll have sinks, behind which you’re going to have pipes feeding the hot and cold water taps.

All absolutely fine and normal so far! However, a potential issue could be lurking behind your sink; we are of course talking about flexible braided hoses. These are often used in confined spaces such as found in the kitchen and bathroom. Fitted in order to more easily join the necessary pipework to the taps. Without the complexity of an alternative such as soldered copper piping. This is often to save time and money in the short term.

The issue here is that more and more people have been experiencing problems with the functionality and longevity these pipes. Which when combined with the fact that escape of water claims are not only one of the most common in the UK, but also one of the most expensive (on average costing a home around £7,000 in damage), is thrusting their suitability for UK holiday homes quickly into the limelight.

Facts about flexible braided hoses

Flexible braided hoses are a plumbing connection from the water main to sanitory ware. They are very versatile and commonly installed in modern homes to replace copper pipe. Unfortunately, they come with a whole host of cons, which can lead to leakages and ruptures, or worst case scenario, major escape of water claims. Some of the reasons this might occur are:

  • They don’t have a very long shelf life – often just five years.
  • Some products are of questionable quality
  • Correct maintenance is not carried out which can lead to rust, fraying or kinking
  • Incorrect installation. They could be over stretched or too loose

If your pipes were to fail, you could be facing ruined carpets, warped wooden floors and water damaged ceilings, which can often leave parts or the whole of your property uninhabitable for some time after the event.

Reasons why flexible braided hoses are often used

Stainless steel flexible braided hoses are attractive because of their price point – they are cheap. They’re also fairly easy to install compared to alternatives, which of course appeals to the DIY plumber. If you do have any installed in your holiday home, whether it be in your bathrooms or kitchen, were you aware that they have a meager 5-year life span? They will most likely start to deteriorate if they exceed that time.

The majority won’t be aware, but if you do have these in your cottage there’s no need to panic or start calling for the emergency plumber as there are a number of ways to safeguard your property going forward.

What can you do to prevent water damage from flexible piping?

The good news is, water damage from flexi hoses is preventable. There a few important steps to follow in order to reduce the risk of water leakage or full pipe failure within your holiday cottage:

  1. Ensure a licensed plumber installs all flexible water hoses within your property. In order for installation to be safe and thorough, you need someone with specialised knowledge.
  2. If you’ve already had pipes installed by an unqualified individual, ask a profressional plumber to check the quality and brand of the product and the installation, to ensure there aren’t any issues with the installation.
  3. Leave information in your guest pack as to where the mains water stopcock is in case they need to switch it off in an emergency.
  4. Carry out proactive, effective and regular maintenance. You need to be regularly checking the flexible hoses throughout your cottage in order to identify corrosion and small leaks before they become big issues.
  5. If you see any signs of corrosion, leakage or any connectors are loosening, contact a licensed plumber as soon as possible.
  6. Replace the flexible hoses every 5 years and be sure to check the warranties on anything you purchase.
  7. Better still consider replacing your flexible braided hoses with copper plumbing to the taps before they reach their shelf life

If your holiday home is going to be empty for a period of time, switch off the main water valve to prevent flooding if a leak occurs. Leave your heating on to prevent frozen pipes, refer to your holiday home insurance policy document for conditions to which you should adhere in this respect.

Are you a client of Boshers?

You will have received a Water Leak Action Pack complete with a tag to mark the location of your stopcock. Read more here:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

water leaks

water leaksPreventing damage from water leaks

Each year, water leaks produce enough water to fill almost 4,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, and create millions of pounds of damage. As the weather gets colder, holiday homes are often left empty for longer periods during this time of year, hence the risk of water leaks is only increased.

FREE Water Leak Action Pack

To help you try to avoid leaks in your holiday home and to help your guests act quickly if one is discovered, we’re sending every one of our holiday home insurance policyholders a Water Leak Action Pack which contains:

  • Guidance on preventing water leaks
  • What to do if you, your housekeeper or guests discover a leak
  • Somewhere to record where your stopcock is to be found
  • Labels and stickers to clearly mark your stopcock
  • Somewhere to record contact numbers incase of a leak

Once you have used the contents and recorded the important numbers the Water Leak Action Pack can be slipped into your holiday cottage welcome folder as useful aide memoir.

New customers will receive the pack when you take out a holiday home insurance policy. Existing customers will be sent one with your renewal receipt. If you can’t wait until your policy is due for renewal or if we usually correspond with you by email, contact us now and we’ll behappy to post one to you without delay.

Common causes of water leaks

Here we explain some of the common causes of water leaks in your holiday home and how you can combat them to ensure your cottage is always ready for your visitors.

Pipework failure

One of the most common causes of water leaks is pipework failure. The issue will often occur at the joint at which one pipe meets with another. Most noteworthy is where flexible hose tails have failed. These are often used on wash basins, and to connect washing machines and dishwashers. Valves and ball cocks are also prone to failure, with all resulting in leaks that can have the potential to escalate quickly if not identified, which is an issue in unoccupied holiday homes that are not regularly checked.

Reasons for pipework failure

The failure can occur for a number of reasons; copper pipes are prone to corrosion over time, whilst poor workmanship can leave you with pipes that aren’t fit for use and ultimately cause big problems.  It’s important to state here that if any alterations or additions are made to the pipework of your holiday home then they should be carried out by a qualified and reputable professional.

Freezing pipes

The most common of all causes of damage to pipework is freezing, which is why it’s vital that your pipes are sufficiently lagged, the heating is left on to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes freezing or your water is turned off and the system is drained.

The temperatures have already dropped so if your holiday home is currently unoccupied then ensure these steps have been taken.

What to do if you find a leak

If you discover a suspected leak, it is vital that you take immediate action. The potential water loss from a burst pipe can be as much as 400 litres every hour; that’s about 4 full bath tubs of water, which if left floating around your cottage is going to quickly begin doing some serious damage.

Step one: Turn off the water supply and electrics

First port of call is always to turn off your water supply at the main stopcock; make sure you know where it is located so you can get to it as quickly as possible and have clear instructions for anyone looking after your property to do so. You will also need to turn off the electrics and heating to prevent any further damage or risk of fire.

Step two: drain the water system and take safe action

Next, drain the water system using the taps within the property, ensuring that the system is empty and no more water can leak and cause damage and empty the contents that are at risk and move them into a dry area.

If water is coming through the ceiling, collect it in a suitable receptacle. Similarly, if the ceiling is bulging you can consider piercing it to release the water. Furthermore this may help prevent the ceiling from collapsing. With both of these situations, only carry out the action if it is completely safe to do so.

Preventing leaks

The best way to stop leaks is to prevent it from happening at all. There are several measures you can take to keep your holiday let safe from water damage.

Measure one: Check your stopcock and systems on a regular basis

Checking your stopcock periodically can make things a lot easier if you do get a leak in the future. Check that it turns on and off easily; a stiff stopcock only adds extra worry to an already stressful situation.

Alongside checking the stopcock, regularly inspect and maintain your systems. Use an accredited plumber to inspect your pipework, in addition change washers and fix leaking taps without delay. You will also need to check water tanks and cylinders for any corrosion.

Measure two: Identify any high risk areas in your holiday cottage

Walk through your holiday home and identify any high risk areas and exposed pipework as these exposed pipes could be at risk of freezing, so will need proper insulation and lagging.

Measure three: Empty property procedures

If your holiday let is left empty for an extended period of time, isolate and drain down the water supply. Also, ensure that heating is properly maintained. Check that sink plugs are not left in, as water from any dripping taps could build up and cause issues.

Measure four: Helping your guests

We also recommend that you provide guests with important information on what to do should a leak occur, especially relevant:

  • Instructions of where to find the stopcock
  • Emergency contact information

Use your Water Leak Action Pack and follow these simple guidelines to prevent water leaks from turning into a bigger problem. Finally contact your holiday home insurance claims line without delay as they’ll provide you with advice and guidance and appoint specialists to help dry out and repair your property. Afterall you’ll want to get your holiday home up and running again without delay.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. We’re here to help and support you as a holiday homeowner. If you require advice or an insurance quote please give us a call on 01237 429444.

protecting your holiday home from cold snap

As the country braces itself for potentially ice-cold conditions this weekend, forgive us for reminding you of the importance of protecting your holiday home from the cold. 

The advice comes as the BBC forecast that temperatures could dive as low as -15C on Saturday and Sunday evening, the lowest since March 2013. Conditions such as these can lead to the bursting of domestic pipes, with the cold winter of 2010 creating more than £1 billion of damage inside a 37 day period.

protecting your holiday home from cold snapWe see more burst pipe and escape of water insurance claims than any other; the damage caused can be significant but there are several simple steps holiday homeowners can take in order to minimise their risk.

The firm has issued guidance including a number of steps you can take in order to reduce the chances of potential damage:

  • If your holiday home is to be unoccupied during the winter ensure you turn the water off at the stopcock.
  • If the stopcock is not turned off, and the heating system drained, ensure the temperature throughout your holiday home is kept above 7C.
  • Ensure you arrange for regular checks to be made on the property during any period in which it isn’t occupied.
  • Look to lag and insulate pipes, boilers and storage tanks, particularly if exposed to the elements.
  • Make sure your heating and water systems are regularly checked by a professional and consider installing a leak detection system or automatic stopcock, particularly if you live away from the property.
  • Refer to your property insurance policy for details on the exact conditions that must be met in order to ensure your cover is not compromised in the event of a claim

The damage caused by burst pipes can be significant to any property homeowner, potentially leaving areas of your home uninhabitable for a considerable amount of time. Being proactive in reacting to potentially severe weather could save you considerable potential cost and disruption.

For more guidance on property checks during extreme weather and avoiding burst pipes please read:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

* Source Association Of British Insurers (ABI) – Avoid frozen and burst pipe problems this winter warns ABI

Holiday Let Owners – Beware The Big Freeze! What could be better than a brisk walk, followed by snuggling up with a hot chocolate beside a roaring log fire in your UK holiday cottage this winter? 

However between now and February half-term the reality is that many holiday homes will be unoccupied and susceptible to pipes bursting in freezing weather, especially if owners have not taken precautions.
According to XCWeather temperatures across many areas of the UK are due to drop well below freezing over the next few days.
In the twelve months to November 2011 35% of our holiday home insurance claims by number were as a result of escape of water. These claims accounted for a staggering 71% of the overall claims payments by value.
As many holiday home owners have unfortunately found out, suffering escape of water damage in your holiday home can be very traumatic and often not detected until someone informs you of water pouring out of the front door! 
The good news is that by taking small precautions, such as our tips to avoid burst pipes and adhering to your holiday home insurance unoccupancy conditions you will significantly reduce the risk. 
Apologies if we are preaching to the converted, we realise that the majority of holiday home owners are extremely careful but the best of us can get caught out.
  • Check out the 7 day forecast for your Holiday Home Postcode here
  • Check out our Tips To Avoid Burst Pipes here 
  • Boshers Holiday Home Insurance policyholders unoccupancy conditions are here          
   

“Be Prepared For The Thaw”, Boshers advise their holiday home insurance clients. We are here and ready to help.


To make a claim, call us Monday to Friday 8.30-5pm on 01237 429444 or Ecclesiastical on 0845 603 8381, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The cost and personal inconvenience caused by a burst pipe claim can be considerable with claims often running into many thousands of pounds. Just a small fracture can release hundreds of gallons of water into your property; damaging carpets, walls, ceilings and also personal items.
The chance of suffering these losses can be reduced and we would recommend taking the following steps to do this:

General tips:

Check the location of your stopcock.

Check whether your boiler needs servicing.

Check the insulation on your water pipes and cold water tank, those in the attic or other vulnerable spaces should be lagged or similarly protected.

Modern methods of insulation can be so effective in keeping heat within your property that attics can become very cold, this could cause a pipe to freeze. We therefore recommend you keep your loft hatch open if you have pipes in the attic to keep this area warm.

Keep doors between heated and unheated rooms open to allow warm air to circulate.

Keep cupboard doors open below sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.

Seal any holes or gaps that may be letting cold air into your property.

Make sure any valleys and gulley’s on your roof are kept clear and free from debris.

Make sure any external taps are turned off and disconnect any hoses.

If you discover a frozen pipe don’t wait for it to burst. Turn off your water supply and then slowly thaw the affected pipe by introducing gentle heat to the area e.g. hair dryer, space heater, hot water bottle. DO NOT attempt to thaw the pipe with a blow torch or other open flame such as a cigarette lighter or matches.


What if you are going away or the property will be unoccupied?

Keep your property heated to reduce the chance of a pipe freezing.

If you are going away for an extended break drain and shut off your water system.

Ask somebody to check on your property daily. This may not prevent a loss but early identification of an escape can help reduce the ultimate cost.


Ensure you have complied with any unoccupancy conditions or warranties listed in your policy. If you need any clarification call Boshers on 01237 429444.


What if the worst happens?


Turn off the water supply at the stopcock. This should prevent any more water escaping into your property.


Where practical try and catch any excess water in a bucket or other container.

Do not use any electrics if you believe these may have been affected by the escaping water. You will need to have these checked by a professional electrician.


Call Boshers Monday to Friday 8.30-5pm or Ecclesiastical on 0845 603 8381 (24/7) immediately to report your claim. Ecclesiastical have to a wide range of specialists who can assist with the drying out and clean up of your property and also the necessary repairs or replacement.


We are here and ready to help.

Insulate Your Water Pipes Against the Big Freeze

Rugging up is essential for both people and water pipes during this icy snap, with pipes likely to freeze as temperatures continue to plummet. Boshers Holiday Home Insurance Specialists offer the following advice about fixing frozen pipes in your holiday homes, but with a little preventative investment people can avoid major costly repairs in the future. And it’s not too late to act, with more wintry weather predicted in coming months now is the time to take action.

The biggest problem with frozen pipes is not the initial loss of water supply but the subsequent thaw. Compared to water, ice needs more space – so when water freezes it expands, which means a frozen pipe often leads to a burst pipe and flooding.

• First, check the pipes for any signs of splitting. If you spot any damage, call a plumber. If you don’t get the pipes repaired now, you might suffer from flooding once the water thaws.

• If there are no splits, turn on the cold water tap nearest your internal stop tap (often located under the kitchen sink) and turn it to a position where the water flow would normally be slow.

• Turn off the stop tap to cut the water supply and use a gentle heat source, such as a hair dryer or electric fan heater, to gently direct the heat around the internal stop tap until the pipe thaws.

•Occasionally turning the stop tap completely on and off helps clear any blockages.

Do not use electricity, or a blow torch or naked flame where there is a risk of water escaping. Also do not light the boiler to thaw out a hot water or central heating system. If a pipe bursts, turn off the stop tap and leave a tap on to allow the thawed water to drain out. Remember to take the plug out of the sink and contact a qualified plumber.

As always, prevention is better than cure and there are a number of things that can be done to protect water pipes from the cold weather.

• Fix any dripping taps or overflows, a gentle trickle of water can freeze and block the overflow or waste pipe.

• Check that your internal stop tap is working by opening and closing it

• Ensure that pipes in cold and draughty areas like roof spaces, outbuildings and garages are well insulated with approved lagging materials. If this isn’t something you are able to do yourself, then a registered plumber can do this.

• Use waterproof insulation on all pipes exposed to the elements and ensure all lagging is kept dry. Wet lagging is useless.

• Insulate water tanks by covering them around and above but not underneath if the tank is in the roof or loft. Rising warm air from the home below will help prevent the water from freezing.

• Remember to insulate any outside taps or turn them off at the internal stop tap and leave the outside tap open to drain it.

• Keep windows closed and stop draughts near pipes in unheated areas, but remember you must provide ventilation for boilers, gas fires etc.

• Leave central heating on low or a frost-protect setting overnight, or when away for a few days.

• Ensure your central heating system is serviced regularly.

• Keep your plumber’s contact details handy in case of an emergency.

Remember if you do have a burst pipe, take action to reduce the damage to your holiday home and it’s content’s immediately, then report the incident to your holiday home insurer or broker in order as soon as possible. Claim procedures and contact details are to be found in your holiday home insurance policy document.

You may also find the following article of interest:

For further information on UK holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

Holiday Homes and Holiday Cottages in the UK can be particularly susceptible to water damage caused by burst pipes, as they often lay empty for days at a time during the low season.

According to the weather forecasters, tonight will bring the first widespread frost of this winter. Please ensure that you have taken preventative measures to reduce the risk of water damage due to frozen pipes bursting. Draining the entire water and heating system during spells of unoccupancy is one method. Alternatively leave your heating on at a level sufficient to prevent your pipes from freezing and ensuring that the pipes in your attic have sufficient lagging, coupled with leaving your loft hatch open to allow circulation of warm air in your loft space. 

Water damage as a result of burst pipes can be very traumatic and upsetting, apart from being a complete inconvenience for owners, guests and letting agents. Many second home owners suffered damage during the exceptionally cold spells last January & February. The exceptional weather caused a sharp increase in holiday home insurance claims in the early part of 2009. Whilst those that had a quality holiday home insurance policy will have had their damaged properties and contents repaired and replaced as appropriate and been recompensed for loss of income during the period which the properties were being renovated. I am sure that if questioned they would rather have not suffered the damage and inconvenience in the first place. 

Sometimes these events are unforeseen, after all that’s why we purchase insurance. Although often with careful planning, good housekeeping, due care and common sense these occurrances can at least be minimised. So beware of Jack Frost, take action and help to keep your holiday home insurance premiums as they are, good value for money!