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Don’t Get Caught Out in the Cold – Prepare and Protect your Pipes this Winter

As wintry weather approaches, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging consumers to act and not get caught out by a frozen or burst pipe this winter. It was only last year that the cold spell caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ led to a tenfold increase in claims compared to the previous year for burst pipes caused by bad weather.

Burst pipesA frozen or burst pipe can be extremely inconvenient, even a small rupture can cause a significant amount of damage to your property. It is not cheap to repair. In 2018 the average cost of weather related insurance claims for burst pipes averaged over £10,000.  

There are steps consumers can take to prevent frozen and burst pipes or minimise the damage in the unfortunate event of a burst pipe. 

To reduce the risk of frozen pipes this winter, the ABI recommends:

  • Keep your heating on at regular intervals and make sure to set it on a timer if you are going away.
  • Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the loft are insulated with good quality lagging. DIY stores and www.energysavingtrust.org.uk can provide some useful advice.
  • Know where your stopcock, that turns off the incoming water supply, is and test that it works. It is usually found under the kitchen sink. If you cannot locate it, ask a neighbour or seek advice from an approved plumber.
  • Repair any dripping taps. This will help prevent water from freezing.

If your pipes freeze the ABI advice is to:

  • Immediately turn the water mains off via the stopcock. Wait for the pipes to warm up, or you can try and thaw them with a hot water bottle.
  • Do not attempt to dislodge the ice using a hammer or melt it with a blow touch, it is highly likely that this will cause more damage.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, which are near frozen pipes in case the pipe bursts.

If your pipe bursts the ABI advises:

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, to prevent further damage to property.

In both instances, contact your insurer straight away to seek advice, many insurers operate 24-hour helplines. They will advise on next steps and help to arrange professional repairs to be carried out.

Sarah Brodie, Policy Adviser for General Insurance at the ABI said:

“Nobody wants to experience the disruption and distress a burst or frozen pipe can cause, especially during winter. Preparation ahead of the colder months is the best way to prevent falling victim to a burst or frozen pipe.

“While insurers are poised to help in these situations if the worst happens, simple measures that don’t break the bank can be taken to reduce the chances of a frozen or burst pipe causing problems.” 

Consumers can visit Insurance Experiments to find out more information about avoiding leaks in the home.



Notes for Editors

Enquiries to:

Malcolm Tarling                       020 7216 7410    Mobile: 07776 147 667

Laura Dawson                         020 7216 7338     Mobile: 07725 245 838


  1. The Association of British Insurers is the voice of the UK’s world leading insurance and long-term savings industry. A productive, inclusive and thriving sector, we are an industry that provides peace of mind to households and businesses across the UK and powers the growth of local and regional economies by enabling trade, risk taking, investment and innovation.
  2. An ISDN line is available for broadcast.
  3. More news and information from the ABI is available on our web site, abi.org.uk.

Last updated 25/11/2019