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Making sure your empty property is ready for winter

Winter is a time of year that may bring more than its fair share of headaches – especially if a property you own has to be left empty for any period of time when it is exposed to the elements and other perils.

Quoting statistics provided by the Association of British Insurers, the magazine for the actuarial profession, The Actuary, revealed in a story from March this year that claims following the winter’s floods and storms were likely to cost the insurance industry some £1.1 billion.

Flooding and storm damage may not be the only perils to which your empty home may be exposed. A single electrical spark, for example, may start an entire house fire, whilst unoccupied property often serves as a magnet for vandals and thieves.

If you are to avoid some of the loss and damage that might befall an empty property, you might want to follow some of these tips:

  • first and foremost, perhaps, you may wish to make sure that you are adequately covered by empty property insurance – and if not, you might want to contact us at GSI Insurance where we are able to offer our specialist advice;
  • flooding and storm damage may be caused by the elements but careful maintenance of your property before the onset of winter may help to limit the extent of any damage;
  • to ensure that any damage caused by flooding or storms is caught in good time, you might want to ensure that you make an inspection visit as soon as possible thereafter or to arrange with a neighbour to keep in touch and advise you if and when any loss or damage is sustained;
  • maintenance now may also prevent extensive damage later on – check the roof in particular to make everything is secure, make sure that pipework is adequately lagged, have the boiler serviced so that the central heating system may be kept on a low, frost setting, and attended to any doors, windows or fittings that are already beginning to rattle;
  • insulate roof spaces and lofts to keep the heat in, but remember to pay particular attention to the lagging of any pipes that remain above the line of insulation;
  • keeping the exterior of your property in neat and orderly fashion may also help dispel the apparent advertisement that it is unoccupied and so deter thieves and vandals;
  • this applies to the garden, too, which may benefit from a tidy up – and at least you know that a lawn mowed now is unlikely to need cutting again until spring;
  • for the same reason, of course, ensure that any deliveries are promptly taken indoors or fetched for storage elsewhere;
  • you might want to invest in a reliable security system, too, and at the very least arrange timer switches so that certain lights come on automatically;
  • if possible, you might want to consider removing any items of particular value from the vacant property entirely.

Preventive measures such as these are unable to guarantee that your empty property does not suffer some form of loss or damage this winter, but they may certainly help – and such common sense and reasonable precautions are likely to be expected by the insurers of your unoccupied property.

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