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Don't be frozen out: how to protect against frozen and burst pipes this winter

With many parts of the UK getting their first taste of winter recently, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is reminding consumers to act now to avoid being caught out by frozen or burst pipes as temperatures fall.

Frozen and burst pipes can cause significant disruption for individuals and serious damage to properties, even if only a minor rupture. Last year the average cost of weather-related home insurance claim for burst pipes exceeded £8,900.

When the ‘Beast from the East’ hit in 2018 it led to a tenfold increase in claims compared to the previous year for burst pipes caused by bad weather.

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, Senior Policy Adviser for General Insurance at the ABI, said:

Sarah Brodie“The incoming cold weather can pose a real risk, so it’s important that people take simple precautionary measures to avoid the disruption and distress caused by a burst pipe. Of course, insurers are poised to help if the worst happens, but prevention is always better than cure.”




Notes for Editors 

Enquiries to:  

Malcolm Tarling                  020 7216 7410    Mobile:  07776 147667  

Laura Dawson                     020 7216 7338    Mobile:  0772 5245838

Myles Langstone           020 7216 7335   Mobile   0783 4626206

Sarah Aspinall                     020 7216 7412    Mobile:  0772 5245297   


  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.  
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  3. More news and information from the ABI is available on our web site, www.abi.org.uk.  


Last updated 30/11/2021