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Homeowners ill-prepared for big freeze

Homeowners are unprepared for extreme cold weather, Lloyds TSB Insurance has warned.

With periods of extreme weather becoming more common, the insurer predicts a 15% increase in burst pipe claims during Q1 of 2007.

Burst pipes can be expensive with claims on average costing 2,500, while the most expensive claim met by Lloyds TSB Insurance topped 156,000 for a particularly troublesome burst.

Lloyds TSB Insurance advises homeowners to take measures to shield their property from the cold weather and avoid unnecessary damage.

It recommends homeowners locate their stopcock, gas valve and ball valves, in case a problem occurs.

It suggests storing a torch with spare batteries in a safe place, with a list of telephone numbers such as a plumber, heating engineer, glazier, electrician, roofing contractor.

Those going away on holiday during the winter should put their heating on low for a short time each day to avoid pipes freezing.

Other measures for preventing damage to property include keeping drain gratings, gutters and down pipes free of debris, insulating outside stand pipes, taps, lag pipes and tanks in the loft, and having chimneys swept.

Heating appliances should be serviced and broken fences, gates and boundary walls repaired.

Lloyds also recommends keeping the insurers number handy in case of emergency and suggests homeowners leave the number with a neighbour if they go on holiday.

Phil Loney, managing director of Lloyds TSB Insurance, says: So far this winter weve had relatively mild weather so many homeowners were caught unprepared for this cold snap.

A little bit of effort now could save you a lot of wasted time and stress caused by problems such as burst pipes or broken boilers.

To give yourself piece of mind, make sure you have adequate home insurance that will cover you if the icy conditions do take their toll.

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Dear Delia

Dear Delia

Nicola recently got divorced. She received a lump sum in the settlement enabling her to satisfy 2,930 of County Court judgements six months ago. She has a 10% deposit and will be buying a property in her sole name. Her previous business as an IT recruitment consultant was dissolved at the time of her break-up but she has now set up another agency in her own name and has been trading for nine months. What options are available?

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