’As temperatures begin to drop, the risk of frozen water leading to burst and damaged pipes rises,’ says manager

Zurich UK has warned that burst water pipe claims for British homes could surge this winter if homeowners avoid putting their heating on.

In a statement released today (1 November 2023), the insurer said that when temperatures drop below zero, the risk of burst pipes and escape of water rises.

This is because sub-zero conditions can freeze the water in pipes, causing them to expand and eventually split from the pressure. 

Zurich warned that households and businesses keeping the heating off was contributing to the risk as it would mean that no heat would get to the pipes.

And with temperatures set to drop and energy bills remaining historically high, it feared that this winter could see a high number of burst pipe incidents. 

The insurer highlighted that in December 2022, it saw 77% more claims compared to the same period the previous year as the big freeze swept across the UK – it was also the year that inflation started to bite.

As temperatures begin to drop, the risk of frozen water leading to burst and damaged pipes rises,” Paul Redington, regional major loss manager at Zurich UK, said.

”Much of this can be attributed to both households and businesses looking to tighten their heating belts in the current economic climate.

“Last year millions of people left their heating off for longer than usual and recent research suggests that even more are planning to do so this year,” 

”We encourage homeowners to have their heating set to at least 10°C at all times.”

Damage costs

The insurer also warned that homeowners could face damage costs of up to £12,791 if frozen pipes lead to escape of water in their home. 

And according to the ABI, escape of water was a significant issue for both residential and commercial buildings in 2022, with a total of £987m worth of claims made across the year, a 15% increase over 2021.

This amounted to an average of around £2.7m worth of escape of water losses each day.

”While high energy bills mean some people delay turning the heating on, they should be aware that escape of water could potentially lead to thousands of pounds’ worth of damage and even the misery of potentially being out of your home at Christmas,” Redington said.