16 November 2023

Escape of water damage is one of the most common types of domestic property damage claims, with insurers paying out £1.8 million for it every day (Source - Clyde & Co).

In 2022 the average cost of a weather-related home insurance claim for burst pipes was £9,300 (Source: ABI

With Winter on the way it is important to act now to avoid being caught out by frozen or burst pipes as temperatures fall. The frozen pipe expands and can crack or burst under pressure. This is often not identified until the thaw sets in. Frozen and burst pipes can cause significant disruption for individuals and serious damage to properties.


What can I do to help prevent an escape of water?

The ABI has previously offered some useful advice on what property owners and tenants can do to help prevent escape of water claims all year round, but this is especially useful coming into the winter months.

  • Stopcocks – Know where these are and make sure that you test them regularly as they often seize up. If there is an escape of water / water leak in your home, turning off the stop cock as soon as possible can help to limit the level of damage caused.
  • Leak detection devices - Consider fitting these to monitor your usual water usage and turn off the water if the device suspects a leak. It is recommended that you use a plumber or a professional to install these types of devices. Some insurers may offer help with the installation of a leak detection device and may also take this into account when pricing your cover.
  • Appliances - Use a professional to install any new appliances which require plumbing.
  • Pipes - Where possible, regularly check the pipes where your appliances are plumbed in to for any looseness, leaks or drips. In areas where pipes are covered but where you still have access to (e.g. behind removable bath panels, toilet cistern panels and underneath kitchen units, where accessible,) it’s a good idea to take a look every now and then to make sure there aren’t any small leaks which could become major problem.
  • Drains - Consider what you are putting down your drain and make sure that you clean drains regularly if you suspect a blockage. Substances such as fats and oils from cooking, produce stickers, baby wipes, sanitary products and even hair can all cause clogs in drains and toilets.
  • It is best to use appliances when you are at home as opposed to setting them on a timer. This ensures that if there is a major deluge of water or a leak, you will spot this before it damages your home.
  • Leaks - Check for leaks from taps, toilets, sinks, baths and showers and make sure you replace any damaged sealant, tiles or cracked shower trays as soon as you spot it.
  • DIY - If you are doing any drilling/DIY, make sure you know where any water pipes are before you put that drill into the wall. We would recommend that you purchase a stud finder as this will help you locate any pipes).
  • Water meter - You can use your water meter to check for any leaks – make sure nothing is using any water in the property, then turn your stopcock off and note the reading. Check again after 1-2 hours to see if the meter reading has changed. If so, it is likely that there is a leak somewhere.
  • When leaving the property unoccupied for any length of time, it's best to shut down the water supply if you can and it is safe to do so.


Prepare for the winter

  • Check your lagging. All pipes and tanks in loft spaces, garages and anywhere else, which could be prone to freezing, should be fully lagged.
  • Keep contact details for your insurance company/insurance broker near your phone in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a smart thermostat, it may have an anti-frost setting to keep your home heated at a minimal temperature. This will stop pipes from freezing. Many radiators will also have a setting with a snowflake symbol, which allows minimal water flow between pipes and radiators. This will also prevent freezing.


What to do if you have frozen pipes

The general advice is to:

  • Immediately turn the water mains off via the stopcock and wait for the pipes to warm up. Alternatively, you can try and thaw the pipes with a hot water bottle or a hairdryer.
  • Do not attempt to dislodge the ice using a hammer or by melt it with a blow touch it is highly likely that this will cause more damage.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, which are near frozen pipes in case the pipe bursts.
  • Open all the taps to drain the system. Make sure professional repairs are carried out before you turn anything back on.
  • Contact a plumber for assistance.


What next?

At Verlingue we have a dedicated team of claims specialists. If you would like more information on how we can support your business, please contact us now.

Antony Hutter

Leader – Property Team Complex Property & Business Interruption Claims

E: Antony.Hutter@verlingue.co.uk