Five top tips for protecting your property this winter

Dublin canals, Ireland - update by Vijay

 

Now that the excitement of the festive season has passed, January can feel like the deepest, darkest part of winter. Freezing temperatures and gale-force winds abound – and, as a result, so does storm damage. 

We always see more of these claims in these winter months, with clients’ homes and vehicles falling victim to flooding, flying debris, and more. Fortunately, just a few simple hacks can help mitigate against such damage. This new year, we share our five top tips for avoiding storm damage.

1. Clear your gutters
It’s a boring task, but an important one: make sure gutters are clear. Leaves, mulch and debris that get caught in gutters cause blockages, and blockages cause leaks. All that dammed up water has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, the path of least resistance often leads directly into the roof. A dripping roof isn’t the only risk. Standing water causes mould, bacteria, and damp in the roof and walls. It also rots wood which, in a worst-case scenario, can damage the very structure of the home. All in all, it’s easier to clear out a few leaves that deal with the damage that blocked gutters can cause.

2. Put away outdoor furniture
During a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing nicer than chilling in the garden – reclining under the parasol and sipping a cool drink in a comfy chair. Those heady days seem like the distant past when you’re standing at the kitchen window, watching a winter storm blow your parasol over the fence. It’s tempting to put off the day when you have to pack away the garden furniture. After all, who wants to admit that summer is over? Unfortunately, garden furniture can go rogue, and it can do a surprising amount of damage to your (or your neighbour’s) home and garden. Put it away early to save yourself the upset later.

3. Check roof tiles are secure
Dislodged roof tiles are one of the most common types of storm damage. Strong gusty winds and flying debris can cause the tiles to loosen or smash, and before you know it, there’s tiles all over the floor and gaps in your roof. The best way to avoid this is simply to conduct regular roof checks. Annual maintenance by an expert can help identify loose or crooked tiles, weak spots, or potential for damage. Roof tiles are like dominos – one weak link can knock out a whole chain. Catching any risks early will pay off in the long run.

4. Pick a good parking spot
A very easy and affordable hack to protect your car from storm damage is this: pick a good parking spot. It’s simple and effective. Parking below a tree or close to the house can leave your car exposed to falling branches or roof tiles in the event of a storm.
If possible, park your car in a garage. Or, if this isn’t an option, make sure you park in as sheltered a spot as possible. Parking in an exposed location leaves your vehicle open to damage from flying debris, including the parasol your neighbour didn’t put away. Parking away from such hazards can help you avoid nasty surprises the morning after a storm.

5. Measure tyre tread
One particularly dangerous risk we see are drivers with worn-down tyres, skidding on icy roads. Rainy days and freezing nights are a recipe for black ice, and in these short dark days visibility can be very low. Drivers must ensure that their tyres have a deep enough tread. Worn-down tyres can cause skidding or aquaplaning, and dramatically increase braking distances. In Ireland, the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. However, we recommend that you check your tyres more frequently once they reach a depth of 3mm. Following these simple hacks can help you and your clients avoid some of the most common types of storm damage. Unfortunately, not every risk can be avoided – and in that case, you want to ensure that your clients have the best possible coverage. DUAL offers some of the broadest home and motor wordings in the Irish insurance market. Get in touch to find out more.

Kate O’Connor is the Head of Business Development at DUAL, the world’s largest international MGA. DUAL Private Client specialise, amongst other areas, in high net worth personal insurance in Ireland and are backed by AXA XL, a division of AXA, one of the world’s largest insurance groups. t: 01 6640001 / e:enquiry@dualgroup.ie

This article was first published in Irish Broker Magazine. Read the PDF version.