Posts

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.

holiday home winter maintenance

holiday home winter maintenanceWe spend all day talking to holiday home and cottage owners across the UK, advising on holiday home insurance needs and dealing with claims. Whilst of course our role is to provide peace of mind by way of a safety net for owners, we also truly believe that prevention is much better than cure. Therefore we offer guidance and advice which from our experience will not only prevent claims before they occur but also help keep you on the right side of the law. Think of us as your holiday letting guardian angel and today we’ll protect and guide you with our tips on holiday home winter maintenance. Here are 10 checks that we recommend you make now:

  1. Arrange your gas safety check

Holiday homeowners must, by law, make sure gas appliances in their properties are maintained and have a gas safety check carried out every 12 months by a registered Gas Safe engineer.

Check the last time you had your gas appliances serviced and gas safety checked.

2.  Ensure you can turn the mains water stop tap on and off

Being able to turn the water on and off in your holiday home is an essential part of maintaining it, particularly if your property is due to be unoccupied during the freezing months of mid winter or should a joint or pipe fail at other times. Communicate its location in your Welcome Folder for easy reference of your guests during an emergency.

3.  Check for dripping taps and repair if necessary

Whilst the slow drip of a tap may seem relatively innocuous in isolation, when thrown forward over a longer period of time, it could cause significant damage in your holiday home, particularly if the issue is part of a larger problem.

4.  Check your loft space lagging is sufficient

At the height of the cold spell in 2010, one of the coldest winters in recent memory, insurers dealt with 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage every day.  If your pipes burst they can cause serious damage (£7,000 on average) and leave your holiday home uninhabitable or needing extensive repair.

Check that your loft space, water tank and pipes are sufficiently lagged; remember a pipe can be susceptible to burst at any temperature beneath 6c.

5.  Programme your central heating unit

If your holiday home is due to be unoccupied for any length of time, ensure you’ve programmed your central heating to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home, including behind those kitchen units where pipes are hidden ( of above 7c) and / or that the water supply has been drained and turned off.

6.  Review your fire and general risk assessments

In order to be effective your fire and risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis, allowing your policies to evolve and minimise the risk to your guests. With the summer season now over, take stock of any incidents that may have occurred and put in place measures to minimise the chances of them happening again.

7.  Visually check your electrical appliances

Whilst it isn’t a legal requirement to officially PAT (Portable Appliance Test) your appliances each year, it is good practice. You should at least complete a visual check of all electrical goods in your holiday home for any obvious signs of defect (frayed wires for example). If there are signs of wear and tear have the appliance checked by a qualified electrician, or replace as necessary.

8.  Have your chimney swept

Whilst many of us will revel in the idea of a glass of wine or local ale in front of a roaring fire they do come with safety considerations and risks; there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires in England each year.

One of the most frequent causes of chimney fire is infrequent sweeping and cleaning. A chimney should be swept on following frequency (as a minimum):

  • Smokeless fuel – at least once a year
  • Wood – quarterly when in use
  • Oil and gas – once a year

9.  Visually check your gutters and roof for damage or loose slates

Aside from tree branches, falling roof tiles account for the highest number of insurance claims caused by storm damage across the UK.

If there is visible damage to the slates on your holiday home roof you should speak with a professional as soon as possible. Don’t forget to clear your gutters, downpipes and drains of leaves and debris that may cause them to block.

10.  Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Keep a log of the last time your alarm system was serviced and if battery operated or assisted, replace batteries and also make a note of this together with a schedule for regular testing.

Further Holiday Home Winter Maintenance Guidance

You may also find the following post on preventing slips and trips of interest:

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.

 

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 

UK Holiday Home Winter Maintenance Checklist. Boshers advises UK holiday home owners to use quieter periods,
such as the Winter months to carry out essential maintenance checks so their properties are protected from inclement weather and in tip top order for the following letting season.Mark Lavington, says: “Many weather related claims could be avoided if holiday home owners were to give their holiday letting properties a winter health check before the worst of the weather hits”. Furthermore there’s a `duty of care’ for owners to ensure that their guests’ safety has been considered.”The Boshers holiday home insurance team have compiled a `Winter Maintenance Checklist for holiday Home Owners’ as a useful aid. A free copy can be downloaded from www.boshers.co.uk/holiday-home-insurance or requested by phoning 01237 429444 or emailing cottages@boshers.co.uk