Peopl Insurance Q&A - Christmas Calamities Skip to main content

‘Tis the Season to Be Insurance-Savvy

Paul Walsh, CEO of Peopl Insurance,

“From burst pipes and floods to fires caused by Christmas tree lights, we all need to take extra precautions around the festive season to ensure we are fully covered. Being insurance savvy over the winter months can be the key to ensuring that when the unexpected happens, we are not left out in the cold”.

Christmas Decorations:

The holiday season is a time of joy and cheer, but it can also come with increased risks, such as house fires and damage to valuable items. It’s essential for homeowners to carefully review their home insurance policy, particularly regarding coverage for fire damage caused by Christmas tree lights. While most insurers provide cover for such damage, it’s important to be cautious, as damage attributed to wear and tear, poor workmanship, or careless light placement may not be covered.When purchasing tree lights, ensure they bear a genuine CE mark and opt for new lights whenever possible to avoid potential hazards.

If using last year’s lights, check for frayed wiring or loose connections. The same vigilance should extend to outdoor lighting, which is susceptible to damage and wear and tear. It’s not uncommon for house insurance claims to arise over the festive season due to Christmas tree-related accidents. While some policies offer coverage for damage or loss, it’s crucial to review the policy to ensure accidental contents damage is included, as some insurers may require an additional fee for this cover. Another proactive measure is to always turn on your home alarm system when leaving the house, even for a short period, as some insurers may refuse to cover you if the alarm is not activated as stated in your policy. Checking the details of your home insurance policy is vital to ensure you are adequately covered.

Burst Pipes:

A very common issue for Irish houses during frosty periods is pipes bursting, which can wreak havoc and potentially cost tens of thousands of euros worth in damages. Particularly for anyone who is away from home over Christmas, leaving the water unattended for extended periods. Returning to the aftermath of burst pipes, you may have to replace walls, floorboards, plasterboard, or kitchen units, not to mention electrical repairs. If you are heading away over the Christmas period, check that the water tank and pipes are properly insulated, including outdoor pipes.

In the unfortunate event that your home is underinsured, you might find yourself shouldering a significant portion of the repair costs yourself, at a time when you can least afford it. Typically, insurers will reduce the payout to match the extent of the underinsurance, leaving you with an unwelcome financial burden.

Underinsurance:

Underinsurance occurs when your home is insured for an amount lower than what’s needed to fully rebuild it, or when the contents within your home are insured for less than their replacement value. A Central Bank report from April 2022, found that underinsurance has been steadily increasing over the past five years from 6.5% back in 2017 to 16.5% in 2021. The main reason for this is that building costs have increased and have pushed up the cost of rebuilds and repairs. We have seen cases where people have underinsured their homes by as much as 30%, leaving them in a very precarious position as the colder weather sets in. Some homeowners may not be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure the building sum and contents sum are accurate. We recommend that every homeowner reviews these figures periodically to ensure they are fully covered.

Floods:

We have witnessed the recent devastating effects of Storm Babet on homeowners and business owners in Cork and Waterford, with some businesses being almost totally destroyed. Homeowners affected by floods, particularly those living in flood-prone areas, often find themselves burdened with the cost of flood-related repairs due to insurance limitations for homes situated in these areas. If you live in a flood-prone area, we advise taking proactive steps to safeguard your property from flooding – such as enhancing drainage systems and using sandbags or flood barriers. For expensive or personal items in your home, make sure they are as high above the ground as possible. In cases where homes are significantly damaged by floods and lack insurance for flood cover, there may be some financial help available from the Government, but this does not apply to all cases.

High winds

Inspect your roof for loose tiles or damaged chimney pots, and get any problems repaired. Quite often those loose tiles can cause leaks and damage to your ceilings, in time. This is an exercise you should conduct both before and after high winds strike.

“It’s important too to check your flat roof for any wear and tear or damage – and address any issues before bad weather hits”.