9 December 2015

Winter Insurance Top Tips from Performance

By Performance
Part of fir tree outside covered in snow


It should be no surprise that, when the clocks went back in October, the weather was about to change for the worse.

It is surprising how many of us can be caught out by this sudden change in conditions and, as prepared as we like to think we are, the recent storms in the North of Britain have caused havoc and shown that sometimes there are things that you just can’t fully prepare for. We can but try.

Here are our top tips for ensuring that the winter months are as trouble-free as possible for you and your business, plus some extra considerations (if you have got that new “toy” you were after from Santa…!)


Once the leaves have been shed from the trees, it is a good idea to ensure that guttering around your premises are free from obstructions that could cause a back-up of water and freezing damage in the winter months.

Grit your pathways and driveways (or use salt or sand) prior to the snow arriving.  This will make them easier to clear once the snow falls.

When you clear your pathways of snow, ensure this is not banked up against any downpipes or drains, as this can aid the freezing of water and cause damage as the water expands and turns into ice.

Consider whether there is sufficient lighting and a clear path to your premises that is easily accessible by visitors in order to avoid unnecessary slips, trips, and injuries.

If you are working in the cold conditions, ensure that your Risk Assessment is updated to cater for the change in climate.


As the rain falls, consider your risk of a flood (including the risk to any outbuildings).  Do not keep your kit on the floor – always ensure that this is raised sufficiently high (e.g. on metal racking) to avoid water damage.

Look out for water stains on ceilings that could be a tell-tale sign of something worse going on, and don’t leave it to deal with later – prevention is better than cure!  If you have suffered from high winds in the autumn months, check that slates and tiles are still secure and that no protection for your premises has been compromised.


Top tip – buy your antifreeze or de-icer in the summer months!  Ensure that your car is topped up and that you carry de-icer and a scraper with you (don’t use a credit card, as you may need that!)

Refresh your memory with the warning lights your car displays by reading the handbook.  Know where your towing point and jacking point is, just in case.

Get used to driving in snowy conditions gradually – leave extra time for journeys and take routes that are more used and therefore more likely to be gritted, than that “cross-country shortcut”.  Remember, braking distances are greatly increased (up to tenfold) in icy conditions.  Make sure you have your motor insurer and breakdown recovery service emergency numbers to hand.

Carry an emergency snow kit if possible – shovel, torch (there are some excellent wind-up ones available now), tow rope, additional (charged) mobile phone, de-icing equipment, blanket, warm clothing and emergency sweets/chocolate.

Switch on your engine without your lights and heaters going, so as to put less strain on your battery.  Only move off once you have cleared the snow from your windscreens and roof (to avoid danger to following vehicles) and be prepared to stop as snow shifts from your vehicle.


Around the premises, ensure that your winter setting on your boiler is activated (if you have one), or leave it running at a low temperature (4 degrees or higher) to avoid pipes freezing.  Leaving the loft hatch open will also prevent snow accumulating and causing strain on the roof, and prevent your cold water gravity tank (if you have one) from freezing (although watch those heating bills, and your tank should be adequately lagged in any event!).

Many insurance policies will exclude water damage and malicious damage at any time of the year whilst your premises are unoccupied for certain periods (usually 30 days), so do check your cover if you are lucky enough to be escaping for some winter sun.


Some more modern home insurance policies now have an automatic “festive period” increase applied to your sum insured, but this is simply a safety net and should not be considered a replacement for reviewing your cover.  In addition, many business policies provide automatic cover for new acquisitions temporarily (although the terms on which they do this will vary, so you should check), but we at Performance would recommend that you advise your insurance advisor as soon as you have taken delivery of your new toy, so that you know it is properly protected.

Keep safe, dry and warm! Merry Christmas all!