A broken brolly’s not the end of the world and clothes dry out, but when winds are strong enough to damage your home it’s often a bit late, let alone dangerous to start climbing a ladder to do that repair to the garage roof you’ve been meaning to tackle for ages.
So before the wind really starts to blow, it makes sense to do some quick checks around your property to help prevent storm damage. It’s worth bearing in mind that insurance won’t cover you for damage that’s down to poor maintenance.
The first place to start is to have a look at the roof – call in a professional for them to check if there are any tiles missing or loose. If you have a low roof you could check yourself or ask a friend to. Pay particular attention to garage, sheds and flat roofs. Wear and tear to these roofs may mean that they have become weakened and will be unable to support additional weight from snow, ice and broken branches.
Secondly, make sure your gutters, gullies and drains are clear; this will allow heavy rainfall and melted ice to pass through quickly and effectively. If drainpipes and gutters aren’t cleaned, water can become trapped in the cold weather and cause these to crack and burst. Before the wind gets going, you should also have a look around your property for any overhanging tree branches and loose debris that could damage your home in strong winds. Tree branches can be cut back and loose furniture can be stored inside.
Storms can vary in their severity, so it is important to always err on the side of caution and take any steps possible to reduce the damage caused to your property and vehicle. The Met Office has reported that gale winds are the most common cause of damage and disruption in the UK. In 2007, Hurricane Kyrill in the UK featured winds at speeds of over 80mph. Strong winds do occur in the UK, so it’s also worth bearing in mind the following top tips on how you can protect your home for more serious storms.
Be ready for the stormIf you have been warned or believe that a serious storm is en route…
Organised criminal gangs are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems, a UK motoring industry group has warned. The thieves are able to bypass security using equipment intended only for mechanics, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
Manufacturers are trying to stay ahead of the thieves by updating software. It has been reported that some London-based owners of Range Rovers have been denied insurance over the issue. The warnings echoed those made by the US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which earlier this year said it had seen a "spike" in car thefts involving equipment to spoof keyless entry. Keyless entry and ignition typically works by the driver keeping a fob on their person which automatically opens the car and activates it so it can be driven. As the popularity of keyless systems has increased, criminals have been buying equipment online that is able to re-programme keys.
"The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem," said Jaguar Land Rover. "Our line-up continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies. Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem."
Keyless ignition Keyless ignition means drivers press a button to start a car
The statement added: "This has already resulted in a number of prosecutions."
Thatcham Research, which collates data on behalf of UK insurers, acknowledged the problem was widespread. Whilst BMWs and Audis appeared to be the early targets, it's fair to say that this was largely associated with their desirability across Europe, rather than any specific security lapse.
It is becoming much harder to steal cars. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, car theft has fallen from 318,000 in 2002 to 77,500 last year. But thefts involving computer equipment used to circumvent security are rising. The SMMT is pushing for stronger legislation to help reverse this.
"The challenge remains that the equipment being used to steal a vehicle in this way is legitimately used by workshops to carry out routine maintenance," a spokesman said.
But Ian Crowder, from motorists' group the AA, warned the risk should not be overstated. "By far the most common way of a car being stolen is still from thieves breaking into homes and stealing keys," he said.
"The keys are still the weakest link in a car security chain. If someone has your keys, they have your car."
Changes to the way vehicles are taxed will affect anyone buying or selling a vehicle as well as resigning the paper tax disc to motoring history.
The new rules, which came into effect on 1st October 2014, mean it will no longer be possible to transfer tax when a vehicle is sold. Instead it will be necessary for the buyer to ensure they have obtained new vehicle tax from the point of purchase. This can be done by using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) either at a Post Office, online or through the DVLA's 24 hour telephone service. Motor traders can still use a trade plate, providing the vehicle is used within their conditions for use. But, if the vehicle is to be registered for personal use in the name of the motor trader, new vehicle tax will need to be obtained.
The person or motor trader registered as the keeper of the vehicle is still responsible for notifying the DVLA when they sell or transfer it. Once this notification is received, and where the vehicle is taxed, they will also receive a refund of any full months’ vehicle tax that is outstanding.
Additionally, and in keeping with the abolition of the paper tax disc, although motor traders and vehicle testers are still required to renew their trade licences, it will no longer be necessary to display this licence and the DVLA stopped issuing them from 1st October 2014.
More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vehicle-tax-changes
Recent studies have shown just over one in three people think insurance fraud is just a fast way to make cash and they won’t get caught. And, while it’s difficult to put a figure on the amount of fraud that goes undetected, the Insurance Fraud Register estimates it could be in excess of £2.1billion a year. This adds, on average, an extra £50 to the annual insurance bill for every UK policyholder. The insurance industry itself is thought to spend around £200m a year fighting fraudsters so there can’t be any let up for the insurance industry.
How is the insurance industry tackling fraud?
Over the course of the past 20 years, the anti-fraud infrastructure has developed substantially, setting up and funding a number of significant counter fraud initiatives, including the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) in 2006, which focuses on detecting and preventing fraud, the specialist police unit - the Insurance Fraud
The insurance industry also continues to push forwards to create a shared, cohesive and technology-based response to fraud because fighting organised fraud is FRAUD all about data sharing and talking to other insurance companies; using the IFB, looking at data sets and building links.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL, is auditory loss caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise at work. It is sometimes called ‘industrial deafness’.
In the UK, companies are responsible for the health and safety of their employees while they are at work and as such are required by law to hold employers’ liability insurance to protect their staff. When it comes to hearing loss, some industries are more susceptible than others – businesses classed as heavy industry, where you’d expect to find high levels of noise, like factories or ship building yards, for example – and this is where we've traditionally seen most of claims come from.
However, this trend has changed in recent years with light industries like textiles, food production, logistics and small manufacturers now generating the majority of claims. Claims volumes have also increased – rising from 3,000 a month in 2011 to over 10,000 a month in 2013 across the industry.
Insurers have seen a similar proportional increase and while they remain committed to paying compensation to support genuinely impacted workers and their families, there is increasing evidence of fraud which insurers are now activity combating. So what’s causing the rise?
In July 2013, the Ministry of Justice introduced fixed costs for many types of personal injury claims with a value up to £25,000 (the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents and the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims). As a direct result, a typical claimant’s solicitor fee for an employer’s liability claim governed by the protocols dropped to around £1,500.
Industrial deafness claims, however, are not governed by the protocols and can therefore still be processed on an 'hourly rate' basis, up to 10 times the fixed fee amount. It is this potential to generate additional revenue that is fueling increasingly aggressive claims farming – where unscrupulous firms encourage people to make speculative ad often unsubstantiated claims.