Posts

water damage holiday homes
Worried holiday homeowner calling Plumber While Collecting Water Droplets Leaking From Ceiling At Home

Our advice comes as the Met Office recorded freezing temperatures across much of the UK this week. On Tuesday 19th November Braemar in Scotland saw the lowest temperature recorded so far this autumn, a chilly -9.9°C and parts of the UK have already seen significant snowfall. These weather conditions can cause pipes to freeze and burst causing serious damage and vacant holiday homes are particularly vulnerable if basic precautions are not taken.

As holiday home insurance specialists we are encouraging holiday homeowners to take precautions to prevent water damage by burst pipes.

Whilst most holiday homes are let to guests during much of the year, the weeks either side of the festive period can be less popular. Properties are often empty and therefore more exposed to extreme weather and prone to problems going undetected.

When a severe cold spell swept the UK in 2010, insurers dealt with 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage every day (£1 billion paid out in Nov/Dec alone *ABI).

Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd explains; “We see more burst pipe and escape of water insurance claims than any other type of claim. The average cost of claims for frozen pipes is £12000. (Claims data 2011-2017 *Ecclesiastical Insurance) Whilst the damage caused can be significant there are several simple steps holiday homeowners can take in order to reduce their risk.”

We have 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 7°C). Setting your heating thermostat at a low level (15°C) will help maintain a reasonable temperature to prevent frozen pipes.
  • If your holiday home is 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).
  • Arrange for regular checks to be made on the property during any period in which it isn’t occupied by guests.
  • Lag and insulate pipes, boilers and water storage tanks, particularly if exposed to the cold (think about attics and outbuildings).
  • Make sure your heating and water systems are serviced regularly and checked by a professional.
  • 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

Damage caused by burst pipes can be significant

Mark added “The damage caused to holiday homes by burst pipes can be significant, potentially leaving the holiday property uninhabitable for a considerable amount of time. Whilst the material damage and loss of rental income may be insured the inconvenience to both holiday homeowners and future guests is best avoided. Being proactive in reacting to potentially severe weather could save owners hassle, expense and disruption.”

For further guidance on holiday home checks ahead of extreme weather please visit: boshers.co.uk/blog/holiday-let-maintenance/essential-low-season-winter-maintenance-tips

Boshers Holiday Home Insurance Policy Conditions

We are always upfront and clear about our holiday home insurance policy conditions but just in case you need reminding, click below to reveal them:

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 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

 

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.

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

keep-calm-protect-inspect -our-holiday-homeWith the UK basked in what is fast becoming an Indian summer and one of the warmest July’s on records fresh in the memory it can be difficult to adjust the mind to look forward to more inclement times.

The devastation caused to homes and holiday property across the Westcountry and South coast of England in the early months of 2014 is still only now being repaired; dredging on the Somerset levels continues on a daily basis.

Now is however the time to take stock and to ensure you’re fully ready for the winter ahead; proactive maintenance now may well save time and money when the nights are darker and the winds much stiffer.

Here are ten steps to ensure your holiday home remains open for business

Frozen Pipes

If you’ve not already insulated pipes and storage systems in your holiday home then now should be the time to review.  Whilst the average UK temperature during September is a balmy 15C, that figure drops significantly to 5C during December to February (the lowest recorded temperature this year was -8C in Sutherland).

We 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 to take to minimise your risk:

  • 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 a level to prevent your pipes from freezing.
  • Ensure you arrange for regular checks to be made on the property during its period of occupancy.
  • 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.

Storm Damage 

The estimated cost of damage caused by the storms in February has soared above the £1bn mark. For holiday homeowners this damage can be felt not only in property damage but also in lost revenues from occupancy.

It’s therefore vital to do your storm damage checks:

  • High winds can cause already loose slates to fly considerable distances, causing extensive damage.  When was the last time your holiday home slates were checked?  Make sure you visually check for broken or loose slates on a regular basis and conduct more thorough inspections prior to forecast gusts.
  • Maintain the drains and guttering on your property.  Summer months and activity such as cutting your lawns can cause drains to become quickly blocked.  Water with nowhere to go will inevitably cause your property more damage.
  • Check for any damage to your chimneys, gates, trees or fences.  Also remove trampolines or other play equipment not securely fastened to the ground.
  • If your property is occupied during the winter consider having an emergency package for guests, including things such as a torch should the electricity supply to your property be cut.
  • Ensure a qualified professional carries out all necessary repairs to your property.

Your Insurance

As specialists in holiday home insurance we understand the impact that having your property unavailable as the result of the weather has on your business.

For that reason we’re always keen to highlight ways in which property owners can be proactive in minimising these potential risks.

Please ensure that you take a look through our specialist holiday home insurance policy so you fully understand the conditions you should be taking to minimise the risks of the weather having an impact on your holiday letting business.

Our Policy is there to help protect you and for your peace of mind.

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.

Thermometer showing cold temperatures

Thermometer showing cold temperatures

Top tips for avoiding burst pipes

UK Holiday Home Owner Winter Advice – Burst And Frozen Pipes

Don’t get caught out by freezing weather this winter – Tips to avoid burst pipes for UK Holiday Home Owners

Three of the past four winters have seen the UK suffer a prolonged big freeze which has affected thousands of holiday homes, with freezing temperatures leading to burst pipes and extensive property damage throughout the UK.

Escape of water can devastate a holiday home and is one of the most common holiday home insurance claims. Take some simple steps to protect your property from escape of water damage this winter..!

Here are some useful prevention tips as well as some advice on what to do in the event of you or your guests discovering burst and frozen pipes in your furnished holiday let.

Burst Pipe Prevention Tips

As frozen pipes often burst, winter care is crucial. Try the following care tips:

Policy Conditions
Adhere to your holiday home insurance policy unoccupancy conditions including those regarding:

1. Regular inspections
2. Heating | Utilities during the winter

Heating System Maintenance

  • Make sure your heating system is maintained in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations.

Leave your heating on in sub zero temperatures 

  • This means that water in pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze. Also remember to remove the hatch to your loft so that warm air can circulate. Please note that leaving your heating on frost stat alone may not be sufficient as with most makes of combi boiler this is designed only to protect the boiler itself from freezing.

Condensing boilers / condensate pipes freezing

  • If you have a condensing type boiler and the condensate drain pipe runs to the exterior of your property, ensure that it has been installed in accordance with the boiler manufacturer’s instructions. Such external pipes if not of large enough diameter (normally at least 32mm), properly installed and insulated can freeze up in cold weather causing the boiler to stop working.

Leaving your holiday home unoccupied for an extended period this winter?

  • Drain down your entire water system and turn off the water supply at the main stop cock situated outside of your premises.

  • If you are leaving your holiday home unoccupied – again consider leaving heating on at a constant low level 24 hours a day, this means that water in pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze. Also remember to remove the hatch to your loft so that warm air can circulate. (This may appear environmentally unfriendly or a little extravagant during these economic conditions, but it might mean the difference between a ruined home or a dry one when you return from your break)

  • Have someone check on your holiday home regularly in between lets, if a problem is spotted early the damage could be much less.

Lots of lagging

One of the main causes of freezing pipes is lack of lagging – so anyone attempting to do a bit of plumbing themselves, should bear in mind that pipes and tanks in the loft, or anywhere else liable to freeze, need to be properly lagged.

Insulate on top of pipes in your loft or attic

  • Insulation should be laid on top of pipes rather than underneath them, as insulation laid below the pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them.

Water tanks in lofts / attics

  • If located on the floor of your loft or attic and are situated directly above a heated room consider insulating up to, around and above the tank but not underneath it, in order to allow the heat from below to rise and keep the water temperature above freezing. However if your water tanks raised above the floor of your loft or attic should also be insulated underneath, as well as on the tops and the sides.

Find the stop cock

  • Before cold weather arrives, find your main stop cock and make sure you can turn it on or off. It’s generally found underneath your kitchen sink. There should also be an access point for a stop cock outside your home (normally near your driveway) so if all else fails you can turn off the supply there. Leave clear instructions on the location of your stop cock for your guests, cleaner and anyone else who may inspect your property in your absence.

Check the taps

  • Repair any dripping taps and don’t forget to insulate outside taps in your garden or garage (or turn off the water supply to them altogether)

Oil / LPG fuel heating systems

  • Do not allow the level of oil or gas in your tank to fall below a level that would put you at risk of running out during a sustained period of severe weather which may hamper deliveries. Take precautions and have an alternative heating source available incase your supply fails. Heating oil itself can freeze in extremely cold weather, speak to your supplier for additional advice.

Night Storage Heaters

  • Unless they are of a combination type which include a temperature controlled secondary instant heat source such as an inbuilt convector heater, do not rely upon night storage heaters alone to to prevent damage in freezing conditions. Consider treating the property as if it were unheated when unoccupied, i.e. turn off and drain the water system.

Your cover …

Damage caused by freezing water and leaking or “escaping” water from tanks, pipes, or heating systems is covered as standard under Boshers Holiday Home Insurance contents and buildings insurance policies.

  • A frozen pipe can cause it to burst causing thawed water to come pouring from the break. Please follow these steps if you discover a frozen pipe
  • If taps aren’t working, showers aren’t running and you have problems with your heating it could be you have frozen pipes and it’s likely you will already know about it!
  • If you’re not sure check all the taps in your home, especially those hidden away outdoors or in the garage, are they running freely? And what about water fountains and features in the garden? It could be they have frozen and you didn’t even know!

Can I help prevent them bursting?

Thawing out …

  • Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so the water can flow through when it has melted. Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep it well away from any water), beginning from the tap end and working back toward the cold water tank. Never use a heat gun or blow torch.

What to do if you discover a burst pipe …

A burst pipe can cause serious damage to your home’s structure and electrical wiring. Please follow these steps if you discover a burst pipe …

  • Turn off the water at the main stop cock (it’s generally found underneath your kitchen sink). By turning off the water you will reduce the amount of water which can escape and so reduce the water damage to your home.
  • Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations at the same time to avoid further damage and open all taps to drain the system.
  • If water leaks near your electrics or electrical appliances, switch off the mains immediately. If it is wet, don’t touch them.
  • Call professional tradesmen as soon as possible to make repairs.

To make a claim on your Boshers holiday home insurance policy, call the 24 hour claims line on 0845 603 8381 or call us at Boshers Ltd on 01237 429444 Open 08:30-17:00 Monday -Friday.

These guidelines have been compiled by Boshers Ltd | holiday home insurance specialists for the benefit of our holiday home insurance policyholders. This advice is provided to you as best practice guidance. Please check your policy document for details of any further conditions specific to your policy. This document is an outline of some steps which can be taken to protect your property and is not definitive. No legal responsibility is accepted by Boshers Ltd for any error or omission or misleading statement contained in this document.

Scottish Water are warning their customers including holiday home owners to “Be Prepared This Winter | heat, insulate and protect your home.” Boshers support Scottish Water in their campaign to educate our holiday home insurance clients with holiday cottages in the Scottish Water authority area. Read their winter code and be prepared for Winter

Holiday Home Owners Are Warned To Be Prepared For The Thaw. Winter 2010-11 already shows signs of being an unusually cold one throughout the UK. The Met Office forecasters are suggesting that the cold spell which began in November could persist well into January. After a decade or more of relatively mild conditions the sub-zero temperatures of the past three winters have taken some holiday home owners by surprise. As a result escape of water claims have spiralled for many insurers.

Mark Lavington, Director of Holiday Home Insurance specialists, Boshers Ltd offers his tips to help mitigate potential water damage this winter. Mark says: “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 holiday home; damaging carpets, walls, ceilings, personal items as well as potentially rendering your let property uninhabitable until essential repairs and redecoration is carried out.”

The chance of suffering these losses can be reduced and Boshers recommend furnished holiday let owners 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. Consider consulting your friendly plumber to see if your water and heating systems can be redesigned to negate the need to have pipes and header tanks in the attic.
  • 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 the property will be unoccupied?

  • Keep your property heated to reduce the chance of a pipe freezing.
  • If unoccupied for an extended period 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.

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.

Additional guidance and holiday home insurance quotes are available from Boshers on 01237 429444 or for further information on UK holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

 

UK Second Home Owners Warned Of New Arctic Weather Set For February 2010. Winter is far from over yet, if todays news headlines are to be believed. Having already experienced one of the coldest winters for decades, arctic weather is set to return next week.

Quality Holiday Home Insurance will give holiday home owners peace of mind, although prevention is better than cure. The last thing that any second home owners wants to discover in their holiday home is collapsed ceilings due to burst pipes. Even the most well managed water damage claim can still be traumatic for owners. 

Read our recent posts regarding burst pipes and advice on preventing Holiday Home Insurance claims here