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   Home Safety Advice

Home Safety

Sometimes the unexpected happens, extreme weather conditions, or just putting something off might put the safety of your house at risk.


Natural disasters can’t usually be predicted but the risks can be weighed up and, if you receive warnings of storms or flooding, you may be able to make a difference in reducing the damage to your home and/or belongings: Listen to the radio and television for weather warnings; these are now predicted well in advance allowing you time to prepare. Telephone the Environment Agency Flood line service for up to date flood warnings. Put sandbags in front of external doors and this will reduce the flow of water into your house; also block up air bricks with wood or plastic sheeting and this will slow down the water flow. Move furniture, valuables and electrical equipment to a higher level if possible and lift rugs and curtains off the ground. Gas, electricity and water supplies must be turned off at the mains. Make sure that all temporary buildings like sheds and greenhouses are securely fixed in place. Damaged or broken fencing should be repaired. Keep cars and other big items away from large trees.

After the Storm

Tell your insurance company as soon as possible of any relevant details. You must not remove or throw anything away until you are instructed to do so by the insurance company. Damaged items need to be inspected to assess the amount of damage. Do not get a contractor in until repairs are approved by your insurance company. Do not use gas or electrical services until everything is inspected and cleared by the suppliers.

Subsidence or Heave

Subsidence is the downward movement of the ground that supports the building and the word heave is the opposite with the ground moving upwards. This relates to changes in the amount of water or moisture in the soil. Some types of soil are more likely to shrink during periods of hot dry weather. The major causes for changes in the amount of water in the soil are damaged drains and roots of trees. Trees could increase the risk of subsidence damage if they are too close to the property as they might take large quantities of moisture out of the soil. But removing mature trees can increase the risk of heave. Before you plant any trees think about the soil, the variety of the tree and how big the tree will get.

If you Find Cracks in Your Home

Houses usually suffer from cracks so don't be worried by every crack that appears. When a series of small cracks suddenly appear in plasterwork at weak points around doors and windows then its time to take action, especially after dry weather. Cracks that indicate ground movement are normally wider than the thickness of a 10p coin and are usually wider at the top than at the bottom

Safety from Fire

The reasons for the outbreak of a fire are very wide-ranging. The most common cause at present is cooking; but many fires can be prevented with some simple safety measures: Don't leave cooking pots and pans unattended. If you are frying don't fill the pan more than one-third full with oil. If the pan overheats turn the heat supply off, place a lid or wet towel over the pan and leave it to cool down. You must never pour water onto a chip pan fire as the effects are devastating. Keep your toasters away from curtains and inflammable objects. Keep your oven and grill clean to avoid food and fat deposits from catching fire. If you are cooking outdoors make sure that the barbecue is located away from sheds, fences, canopies and gazebos and other combustible materials. Don’t use fuel accelerants to start a barbecue and make sure the coals have fully cooled down before disposing of the ashes. Put fireguards around open fires to reduce the risk of embers ' from the fire falling onto nearby carpets. Keep portable heaters away from furniture and other flammable materials. Do not overload electric sockets and as a general rule one socket equals one plug. Don’t leave electrical appliances switched on or in stand-by mode when not in use and presents an unnecessary risk should a fault in the electricity supply occur. Don’t leave candles unattended and always put them out before leaving the property or going to bed. Always place candles in a secure holder on a non-combustible surface. Don’t put candles on top of televisions, nor near combustible items such as greeting cards, curtains, bedding and fabric. Have a smoke alarm installed and also a carbon monoxide detector. Some prefer to have a fire extinguisher and/or a fire blanket.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms

Injuries and deaths from fire in the home are reduced considerably when people have early warning of a fire. These are widely available from supermarkets and DIY stores, smoke alarms alert you in case of fire and carbon monoxide alarms provide early warning of increased levels of gases. These units can be wired into the mains within the home or rely on a battery for their source of power. Batteries offer a simple, cost effective solution. If you use a battery powered unit it is recommended batteries are checked weekly using the test button fitted but they need to be changed at least every year. Smoke detectors should be located at ceiling level within central areas such as stairwells, halls and landings. It is recommended that one detector is fitted on every floor of the building for. Areas such as lounges, kitchens and bathrooms should be avoided due to increased rates of false alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors detect a build up of dangerous gases and these should be located near to central heating boilers, open fires or in the kitchen.

Fire Blankets and Fire Extinguishers

They are now available to the average consumer within DIY stores at very reasonable cost. A, B and C type fire extinguishers are the most appropriate type to use within the home considering the various types of fire that you may encounter.

  • Class A fire type - Wood, paper, textiles, other carbonaceous materials. Extinguisher recommended - Water
  • Class A & B fire type - As above with petrol, oil, fats and paints etc. Extinguisher recommended - AFFF [Aqueous Film Forming Foam]
  • Class A,B & C fire type - As both above with electrical hazards. Extinguisher recommended - ABC dry powder
  • Class C fire type - Petrol, oil, fats, paints and electrical hazards. Extinguisher recommended - Co2

Carbon Dioxide

All fire extinguishers and blankets should be placed in accessible locations and they should be wall mounted. You should get them serviced on an annual basis by an appropriate service provider, like a member of FETA (Fire Extinguisher Trades Association). Only use extinguishers on minor fires. In any case, always call the Fire Brigade on 999.


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