The Insurance Council of NZ is reminding New Zealanders of the importance of preparing their homes for winter, especially in the wake of two bouts of severe weather this month. ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton, says it is important for homeowners to make themselves, their families and their homes safe by minimising the risk of damage in severe weather. “To minimise the risk of anything going wrong, it’s important to get out and check how well-prepared your house is for winter before it gets too cold and too damp for that to be possible.” “A lot of winter accidents are preventable so it’s important we do what we can to keep us and our properties safe,” said Grafton. The Council recommends landlords and home owners do the following:

  • Check roofs and gutters to make sure they are well maintained and clear of debris and leaf litter.
  • Trim overhanging branches and remove dead or dying trees to reduce the likelihood of damage during storms.
  • Re-read their house and contents policies to ensure they understand their excess and not only what their policy covers but also what it doesn’t. Exclusions and excesses can be common trip ups at claim time so it’s important to understand these well.
  • Get fire places and chimneys cleaned, ensure non-electric heaters are tested for gas or carbon monoxide leaks, and make sure all electric heating appliances are free of dust and have cables and plugs that are undamaged.
  • Check electric blankets are in good working order. You may want to install timers on them to ensure they’re not accidentally left on.
  • Check electric outlets and avoid overloading multi-boxes. Heaters use more energy than standard appliances so it’s best to plug them straight into a wall socket.
  • Add drainage to pathways that collect puddles or black ice or mark them out to ensure people don’t accidentally slip on them.
  • Check the seals on windows, doors and roofs. Insurance doesn’t cover gradual damage so any existing or potential water leaks are best checked for and repaired regularly.
  • If your overnight low is forecast to drop below freezing, check any external pipes are well insulated.
  • If you have an old hot water cylinder, consider having it checked by a plumber to ensure it is functioning well and doesn’t need to be replaced. A ruptured hot water cylinder can cause a lot of damage and be expensive to recover from.
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