Like many insurers, our Home Insurance policies don't cover damage or breakages that result from natural wear and tear on your home. It’s crucial to keep your property in good repair - regular maintenance may save you money in the long run.
Look after your property year-round
If your roof is damaged and left unrepaired it could leak into your attic and further into your house, causing mould and rot. Check it from the outside by looking for cracked, lifted, loose or worn tiles or slates, and on the inside by looking out for water spots, discolouration or sagging. If you have a flat roof, this is particularly important as they're more prone to leaks.
If you have an open fire, ensure the chimneys are clean and free from any debris. Unused chimneys may need capping to prevent birds and rodents nesting.
Loft insulation - The Energy Saving Trust recommend lost insulation be 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.
The heating system and boiler
Get your boiler serviced once a year to ensure it's working correctly. With our Home Insurance Home Emergency add-on we can repair your boiler in the event of breakdown, provided it's been checked by a qualified tradesperson in the last 15 months. However, we don’t cover boilers over 15 years, 60kw per hour or 250000 BTUs.
As well as ensuring your heating works when you need it, having the heating system serviced can save money on fuel as your system will be more efficient.
Gutters, pipes and downspouts
Ensure your gutters and downspouts are securely attached to your house and directing water where they should be to avoid water soaking the brickwork. If you have faulty, leaky gutters, or downpipes which are not water-tight, this could lead to damp in your house, so inspect the exterior during or just after rain.
Ensure rainwater drains are clear of leaves and other debris. Give guttering and down-pipes a once over to make sure there are no leaks or cracks, particularly where two sections join.
Be prepared for winter
Most home insurance providers don’t cover damage caused by frost. Insurance is there to protect you against things you can’t predict, but we all know that frost causes damage, so it’s not classified as an ‘insurable event’.
A few tips for colder weather
Drain all outdoor pipes including water hoses.
Remove plastic fittings – they weather badly – and store until spring.
Surround outdoor taps in insulation and bubble wrap.
Know where the main water tap is for your property. You might have two – one inside and one outside your home.
If you go on holiday during the winter, either shut the water off and drain the water tank completely or leave the heating on at 12 degrees (about 55F).
Pour dishwasher salt down waste pipes and drains to help prevent freezing if you are away for any length of time.
Brickwork and building work
Ensure the mortar between bricks is solid. If you can remove any with a screwdriver, then that area will need re-pointing to prevent cracking and damp during wet or cold weather.
Cut back tree branches that hang near your house, remove creepers from the walls and remove any moss that’s built up, as it can act like a sponge and retain water which could cause damage to your brickwork.
Check that all windows open and close easily, and if there are any cracks between the window and the brickwork.
If you've recently had any building work done, check that the work has been completed to the expected level. Issues caused by poor workmanship like badly fitted conservatory panels, poorly laid flat roofs and loose guttering will not be covered by your Home Insurance policy. If you spot any problems, always go back to your workman straight away to get them fixed. Remember with any buildings or structural work, if you're unsure of anything seek advice from a professional tradesperson.
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.
Safety and security
Doors and locks
Regularly check door handles, hinges and locks to ensure they're working correctly and aren't showing any signs of wear. Lubricating hinges and locks with oil and regular cleaning will help extend the lifespan of your door handles.
Make sure all window locks work and you know where the keys are.
Replace batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
Have burglar alarms and other devices inspected.
Ensure tools are securely locked away – spades and forks can also be used to break into your home.
Drain petrol from motor mowers and similar appliances.
Cut back tree branches that overhang your house or outhouses.
Inspect outdoor lighting and other wiring.
Remove ground rubbish such as plastic bags that could cause water to build up.
Take care of valuable plants – either wrap them (garden centres sell specialist material) or bring them into your home or greenhouse.
Pack away or anchor lightweight garden equipment such as patio furniture or trampolines as these can be blown about in high winds and cause damage to fences. Most home insurance policies, including ours, do not cover damage to hedges and fences.
Read our Garden Insurance page for more information on protecting your garden against damage.
Be prepared in case of an emergency
Keep torches and a supply of usable batteries in an easy to find place, also a supply of candles and matches.
Store tinned food and bottled water in case you can’t get out for a while – and dried food for pets.
Make a list of useful phone numbers including plumbers, electricians, utility companies – and your insurance company.
Check your insurance policy is up to date with any changes you've recently made to your home and contents. Insurance is designed to deal with the unforeseen such as fire and flood. It is not a maintenance contract so a policy won’t pay for the repair of a worn-out roof or fallen guttering that's been hanging dangerously for months or even years.
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John Lewis Finance, John Lewis Home Insurance and John Lewis & Partners are all trading names of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England and Wales (Registered Company Number 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Munich Re Digital Partners Limited, a company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to carry on insurance distribution activities.