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Preventing frost damage to your home

Each year, many home insurance customers try to claim because of damage caused by frost, but most home insurance providers don’t cover this. But why not? Because insurance is there to protect you against things you can’t predict. We all know that frost causes damage, so it’s not classified as an ‘insurable event’.

In 2012, more than 50% of John Lewis Home Insurance claims that were declined were due to general wear and tear on people’s homes so it’s really important to maintain your house. This will also help lessen the impact of frost and prevent you having to make costly repairs.

Here's eight tips to make sure your house is frost-proofed and ready for winter.

1. Service your boiler and insulate your pipes

Call in a professional to make sure your boiler’s working efficiently before the cold weather sets in, and also check any pipework and insulation. Frost and extreme temperatures can cause burst pipes, which could leave you without heating and hot water, so put preventative measures in place. Also, most Home Emergency policies require you to have an annual service in order for your cover to be valid.

2. Clear your paths and gutters

Blocked gullies mean that water has to find an alternative escape route – and if that means it’s running down an outside wall, bricks could get damaged. Water’s bad enough, but once frost sets in bricks can be damaged. So autumn is the time to clear leaves away and clean up your guttering. Give guttering and down pipes a once over to make sure there are no leaks or cracks, particularly where two sections join.

3. Check your paintwork

If frost gets into loose paintwork, cracks or open joints it can really take hold. So inspect the outside of your house and fill gaps where necessary. Check your paintwork, especially vulnerable areas such as the tops and bottoms of doors and sand down, prime and repaint if there are any chips, flakes or damage.

4. Insulate your loft

Do you know how good your loft insulation is? Get up the ladder and take a look. The Energy Saving Trust recommend it’s at least 27cm thick. Not only will that make your house warmer and less susceptible to frost damage, but you could save money on heating bills too.

5. Inspect your roof

Check your roof’s watertight and that no tiles are cracked or missing. Then take a look at the pointing and fill in any cracks or missing cement. You may be able to check low level roofs, such as those on conservatories and sheds, yourself but it might be worth paying someone to give the roof of your house an ‘MOT’ ready for harsh winter weather.

6. Clean up your garden

Cut back tree branches that hang near your house, remove creepers from the walls and remove any moss that’s built up over the summer, as it can act like a sponge and retain water which could cause damage to your brickwork. Plants like ivy can also cause cracks in the brickwork, allowing water in which can cause further damage if it freezes.

7. Keep an eye on snow

If you live in an area where you know it’s going to be freezing, it might be worth installing snow guards on conservatories or roof heaters in particularly harsh locations. Once snow does hit, rake it off your roof wherever possible – or get a professional in to do it for you.

8. Protect your brickwork

Frost can easily cause damage to brickwork and mortar on your house and garden walls and chimneys. These areas are constantly exposed to the elements and when water gets in to the porous bricks, it freezes and expands causing the face of the brick to break off. If you live in an older home, the mortar on your chimneys may also be susceptible to frost. It’s a good idea to check your bricks and chimneys before winter hits and get any potential problems repaired by a professional before they develop.

How can John Lewis Insurance help?

Although you won’t be covered for damage caused by frost, John Lewis Home Insurance could provide cover for home emergencies such as a burst pipe if you include this cover under your policy.

Our Home Emergency Cover provides 24 hour advice on how to deal with events like a burst pipe, leaking radiator or damaged window. Advisors can also organise for a qualified tradesperson to repair the damage, with £1,500 towards parts and labour with our Premier Cover.

Home Emergency Cover is included as standard with our Premier Cover and you can include it as an optional extra with our Plus and Essential Cover.

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John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Home Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

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