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Winter weather damage to homes tops £600 million

M&S Money is alerting homeowners of the need to prepare for the onset of winter, while the majority (71%) understand the onus is on them to ensure their property is in good repair, less than a third have carried out basic maintenance in the last two years, such as checking for loose tiles, cleaning chimneys or cutting back plants.

Overall, the most common damage during the winter season is caused by wind, but in the last couple of years snow and heavy rain has been a real problem for homeowners.

The average cost to repair storm damage is nearly £600, although some claims run into tens of thousands of pounds. While many homeowners will have sufficient home insurance to cover the cost of damages, around 30% of households are not covered, either because no policy is in place or the claim has been invalidated due to a lack of basic maintenance.

M&S Money also highlights that other common winter hazards around the home include burst pipes; which have escalated in the last couple of years with freezing winter conditions, and chimney fires caused by neglected and dirty chimneys.

Fleur Carruthers, Home Insurance Manager at M&S Money, said: "We recommend homeowners make time over the next couple of weeks to check their homes are in a good state of repair and ready for winter. Carrying out basic maintenance can prevent damage from occurring, and should the worst happen, ensure a claim is valid."

Top tips for preparing your home for winter:

* Check your roof for loose tiles that could be dislodged in heavy wind, causing damage and leaks;
* Keep your gutters cleared of autumn leaves to avoid blockages and resultant flood or rain damage;
* Prune trees close to the home to prevent branches snapping and damaging the house;
* Check plants growing up the house are not growing into the brickwork which could allow frost damage to infiltrate;
* If you have a chimney, make sure it is swept regularly and clear of debris that could start a chimney fire;
* Insulate pipes and leave heating on a low setting at all times in freezing conditions.

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