Article date: 3 December 2010
Aviva is texting over 500,000 of its motor and household customers today warning of the perils of the continued arctic conditions.
The text says: "Please take care in the cold weather, if you have to drive, take a spade, food and a blanket. At home, leave the heating on to avoid burst pipes."
The UK's largest insurer sent similar messages to customers in the freezing temperatures last January after fears that many homes could suffer from burst pipes.
Rob Townend, director of claims, at Aviva said: "Obviously when we have such extreme weather conditions, as we have now, it makes sense to send advice to customers as quickly and simply as possible, so where we have mobile numbers for our customers - and they have said they are happy for us to contact them - we are sending little reminders to be extra careful in the cold snap.
“We hope it might prevent some of the soaking homes that we saw last winter as a result of water-damage caused by burst pipes and perhaps a short message about the driving conditions might make people think twice before they venture out in their cars."
Damage caused by freezing water escaping from tanks, pipes, or heating systems is covered as standard under most contents and buildings insurance policies. Water freezing in tanks is also usually covered under buildings insurance.
Lots of lagging
One of the main causes of freezing pipes is lack of lagging - so anyone attempting to do a bit of plumbing themselves, should bear in mind that pipes and tanks in the loft, or anywhere else liable to freeze, need to be properly lagged.
Insulate on top of pipes
Insulation should be laid on top of pipes rather than underneath them, as insulation laid below the pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them. Wrap up water tanks, cisterns and boilers in insulating jackets.
If you are going away for a few days or weeks leave heating on at a constant low level 24 hours a day, this means that water in pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze. Also remember to remove the hatch to your loft so that warm air can circulate.
(This may appear environmentally unfriendly or a little extravagant during these economic conditions, but it might mean the difference between a ruined home or a dry one when you return from your break.)
And get someone to check on your home while you are away, if a problem is spotted early the damage could be much less.
Find the stop cock
Before cold weather arrives, find your main stop cock and make sure you can turn it on or off. It's generally found underneath your kitchen sink. There should also be an access point for a stop cock outside your home (normally near your driveway) so if all else fails you can turn off the supply there.
Check the taps
Repair any dripping taps and don't forget to insulate outside taps in your garden or garage (or turn off the water supply to them altogether).
Tell your insurer
If you are planning a longer holiday over the winter period make sure you tell your insurer. Most standard policies don't cover you for standard perils like escape of water, burglary and theft if your home is unoccupied or unfurnished for a certain period of time. Aviva offers full cover for 60 days away, but you need to tell us if you are going away for longer!
If the worst happens
If pipes have burst turn off the water at the main stop cock - by turning off the water you will reduce the amount of water which can escape and so minimise damage to your home. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations at the same time to avoid further damage and open all taps to drain the system. Call your insurer as soon as possible.
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Aviva Press Office: 01603 685177/07800 690731
Notes to editors:
Aviva is one of the world's largest insurance groups* with 53 million customers worldwide and 46,000 employees.
Aviva’s main activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion*.
In the UK, Aviva takes care of its 19.2 million customers by helping them look after their future, protecting what’s important – from their health to their homes, their cars to their business – and saving for the future.
Aviva has a 10.5%** share of the UK life and pensions market and insures one in six homes and one in 10 cars in the UK. It is also one of the oldest UK insurers, with a heritage stretching back more than 300 years.
RAC, which is owned by Aviva, provides breakdown and insurance services for individuals and businesses and has around seven million customers.
Aviva is carbon neutral worldwide, and is ranked in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In the UK, Aviva invested £3.8 million into local communities in 2009. Read our corporate responsibility report at www.aviva.com/cr.
Aviva’s global Street to School programme is working in partnership with Railway Children in the UK to get children living on the streets back into education and everyday life. Find out more at www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school.
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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009
** Source: ABI data released August 2010