Making Cents: Check your home before severe storms hit

The last week has been a reminder of the potential for damage brought by winter storms.

While Storm Diana didn’t have the power of 2017’s Ophelia, wind, particularly when accompanied by rain, can cause real harm to property.

A few weeks I spoke to the SEAI about making your home energy efficient. Equally, with several months of potentially unsettled weather ahead, now is the time to make sure your property is also storm and ice-ready.

The Protect Your Home guidelines from Insuremyhouse.ie highlight the important areas to consider.

The most basic preventative step is to check that your external walls and windows are adequately water-resistant. If you are concerned, there are various products and sealants and varnishes available to bolster the exterior of your home.

Everyone, be they renters or houseowners should ensure they know where the water, gas and electricity mains are in case you need to turn them off or on at any stage.

“Secure any items that could be moved during the storm and, if you live in a flood-risk area, during more risky periods keep personal and expensive items as high above ground level as possible,” says the insurer.

If you live in a home that is prone to flooding, ensure you have sandbags or wrappings on hand to protect your property. While doing a check of your property, you should also bear in mind that freezing temperatures can do as much harm as storms.

As with the electricity mains, know where the stopcock that turns off the water is located and make sure it works. Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the attic are insulated with good-quality lagging and check your exterior walls for holes.

Even small holes where wires enter can be an entry point for freezing air but they can be easily closed with foam insulation. Now is also the time to clean your gutters, particularly as the mild weather so far means there are still significant amounts of fallen leaves around.

“Full gutters increase your chance of having ice form on your roof, and that’s not something you want to mess with,” the insurer warns. “Set aside some time to clean your gutters out before the freezing temperatures get here.”

If you have outdoor plumbing fixtures you should also tend to these to ensure they don’t freeze. Drain outdoor taps and shut off water to these if possible.

Checking over your home is only one part of winter preparations, you also need to make sure it is insured.

“The Irish are no strangers to bad weather, particularly in the last few year,” Jonathan Hehir of www.insuremyhouse.ie said. “But we have found that people forget the extreme weather cycles very quickly.

Last year once the first of the really bad storms hit Irish homes, we received a deluge of calls from worried homeowners who had let their insurance policies lapse and who were trying, in haste, to get cover.

If cost is an issue, look for cover that you can pay by monthly direct debit rather than a lump sum. Going without is a false economy if the worst happens there could be a long way to go this winter. Remember, the effects of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East lasted well into March, winter weather is unfortunately not confined to the next two months.

If damage does occur there are steps to take to minimise damage to yourself and your property. In the aftermath of extreme weather, always use extreme caution, checking walls and premises from a safe distance and taking precautions. People have been hurt long after the actual storm has passed.

Contact your insurer if you have had damage or if you think there may be potential damage, it is important to involve your insurer as soon as possible. You can arrange emergency repairs yourself, particularly if it will prevent further damage, but have

the insurance company take over at earliest opportunity.

Make sure to take photographs of any damage before you repair it and don’t throw away damaged or ruined items. Your insurance company may need to see them.

Deal of the week

If you are in the market for home insurance, check out Supervalu’s current offer.

The retailer has been offering insurance for a number of years, underwritten by AIG.

It is currently offering two months free to customers who purchase a new SuperValu Insurance Home Policy.

Homeowners who use a SuperValu loyalty card will collect 1000 Real Rewards points on their card. The deal also includes €20 in money-back vouchers to spend in-store.

The Home Policy includes 24-hour home emergency assistance, cover for outhouses and 30% no-claims discount if three years are claim free.

Visitors and guest property is covered up to €1,000 and there is a free 10% contents uplift in cover at Christmas and weddings.

The policy also offers €1,000 SuperValu vouchers to cover freezer breakdowns.

Find out more by calling 1890 111 111 or at Supervalu.ie


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