Top tips for protecting your home during winter

Steps to protect your home and reduce the chance of winter disruption

Winter is always a busy time of year for household insurers, with increased frequency and severity of weather-related claims compared to the warmer months. The shorter number of daylight hours and the impact of the economic uncertainty over the winter months also present an increased likelihood of burglaries and common thefts. But it is not all doom and gloom. There are several steps that homeowners can take to reduce the chance of disruption and distress throughout the winter months.

Escape of Water

  • Insulate all exposed water pipes and tanks in the loft.
  • If you have a cold-water tank, inspect it regularly for any signs of a leak and if it is metal, make sure it is not corroding.
  • Avoid putting loft insulation directly underneath the water tank so that the warmth from below will help to prevent the cold water from freezing.
  • Set your thermostat so that your heating comes on to avoid pipes freezing during severe icy temperatures.
  • Check that you know where your main stop valve is located and make sure you can turn it on/off with ease. It is also a good idea to label it so that your household are aware of its location in an emergency. If you have any additional let properties, make sure your tenants are aware of this too.
  • If you have any dripping taps, make sure to repair them. Normally all this involves is replacing a washer.
  • If you have a constantly dripping overflow pipe this is a sure sign that your system requires some maintenance. Get it checked out as soon as possible.
  • If, during freezing conditions, the heating fails or makes loud banging noises, this could indicate that a pipe is freezing. Turn off the boiler and call a plumber immediately or, if you have Home Emergency cover under your policy, call the 24-hour Home Emergency Helpline in your policy wording for assistance.
  • Take the time to check the condition of flexible hoses to plumbed-in domestic appliances and make sure they are securely attached.
  • Consider the installation of a frost-stat if your boiler does not already have one built in.

 If you do leave your home unoccupied for an extended time, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate in the loft space. Seriously consider the installation of a leak prevention or detection system (see our website for more information on LeakBot).


  • Keeping up to date on the weather forecast and tuning in to local TV and radio broadcasts and government updates is key to being prepared for flood events.
  • If flood warnings include the area you live in, having a bag of essential items packed is a good way to prepare for an emergency. Essential items should include drinking water, long-life food, any prescription medicine, torches, battery packs and mobile phone charging wires, spare clothes (preferably waterproof) and a first aid kit.
  • If a flood is imminent, move cars to higher ground to avoid them becoming debris in rising flood water. It only takes a depth of two feet to lift a car in fast flowing water.
  • If you have any spare materials such as wood or plastic, cover airbricks to avoid flood water entering them.
  • If flood water enters your home, try to move soft furnishings, electronics, and valuables upstairs to limit the extent of damage and distress.
  • If you are forced to leave your home, for safety turn off your mains gas and electricity supply.


  • Regularly check the condition of all roofs including garages, sheds, and flat roofs for signs of wear and tear.
  • Keep gutters, gullies, and drains clear to carry water away quickly and efficiently.
  • Be mindful of low hanging tree branches which could cause damage in high winds and check the trees within your garden and estate for any visible damage following a storm which may require maintenance.
  • Clear away any loose items from your garden to ensure there is nothing that could be carried away by high winds during the storm and damage your home.

If the weather forecast suggests you live in an area which is due to be hit by a severe storm, take similar steps to flood preparation and have an emergency kit prepared.


Most household burglaries are committed by opportunists. By taking some simple steps you can decrease the chances of a break-in and make your home safer:

  • If you do not have one already, consider installing an intruder alarm at your home and activate it each time you leave the home unattended. Most burglaries occur between 14:30 and 16:30 during the afternoon school run as burglars know that parents rush to leave the home and may not set the alarm.
  • Consider installing CCTV, smart cameras, or smart doorbells to ward off potential intruders who wish to avoid being caught on camera.
  • It is a clear statement to possible intruders that you take home security seriously by maintaining alarm boxes and keeping fencing, border walls and gates in good condition.
  • Low visibility and noise are key considerations to intruders, so having gravel driveways and motion triggered security lighting are good deterrents.
  • When it comes to disposing of packaging for expensive goods and Christmas presents, try not to leave a stack of folded boxes out for the bin collection as these can also be visible to prospective intruders who may consider this as an advertisement for what they could potentially steal.
  • If you are going away for a winter break, try not to make this obvious to potential intruders. Putting lights on timers or using a TV simulator light is a cost-effective way of simulating that someone is home.
  • If you are planning to go away for a winter break, leaving a key with a trusted neighbour, friend, or family member to check the house weekly for any issues is a great way of reducing the chances of you coming home to any unwelcome surprises.
  • Going away on trips at winter time is fantastic and it is natural to be excited but try to avoid broadcasting that you won’t be at home on social media. This can be during the build up to the trip or allowing social media platforms to advertise your location via status updates e.g., checking in at airports. Free feel to share photos and tell all of you friends about the lovely time you had when you get home though!

Wow, that was a long list of advice! We do appreciate that taking proactive steps now may initially feel a little cumbersome, but we truly believe it is better to be safe than sorry when protecting you, your family, and your home this winter.