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One in five insurance claims are for water damage

As the Met Office issue another severe cold weather alert this week, VPS, the vacant property specialists, has re-issued a timely Top Ten Tips checklist to save people, businesses and organisations the costly effects that the current freeze can have on vacant properties.

“It might seem obvious to recommend turning off your water mains if your property is empty” says Simon Alderson, VPS’ Commercial Director, “but around 20% of property insurance claims are due to water leakages and burst pipes. I hope this checklist will prompt both businesses and people with empty properties to avoid the expensive and unpleasant clear-up of the aftermath of a flood in their vacant properties.”

Leaks from a small burst or fractured pipe can release thousands of gallons of water if left unnoticed. The average insurance claim is an estimated GBP 25,000 but costs can reach GBP 100,000 or more for water damage to commercial properties.

“The number of empty shops in UK high streets has reached a new high of over 11% (1) and there are over 700,000 vacant homes (2) .” Mr Alderson explains. “Our experience has taught us that prevention really is better than cure. In the recent cold snap we had calls about water damage from storerooms to studios, from hotels to public houses. Whilst we can provide a ‘clean and clear’ service, we’d much prefer empty properties were made safe and secure from weather damage in the first place. And a property that’s been protected is more likely to be re-occupied sooner when new tenants are found” he concluded.

In addition to turning off the water supply to an empty property, the checklist also recommends:

• The mains water tap or stopcock is securely locked to prevent vandals from re-starting the flow of water, and water flow detectors installed

• The water system is drained down to prevent frozen pipes, and additionally to reduce the potential build up of Legionella and other bacteria in stagnant water

• Roofing and guttering is checked for defects, and security measures are in place to prevent metal theft (which can lead to water damage)

• Other utilities are turned off such as gas and electricity

The Top Ten Tips checklist is available to download for free from


(1) British Retail Consortium, January 2nd 2013
(2) For November 2012


Notes for editors

About VPS:

VPS secure more than 90,000 properties and employ over 2000 staff in over 100 locations across the UK, the US, and mainland Europe. They specialise in securing, maintaining and managing vacant property across a wide range of customer and industry sectors.

Core building services cover the vacant, unoccupied and void property lifecycle from an initial risk assessment, to security, including guarding, monitoring, clearing, cleaning, maintenance and preparation. These services protect properties against unauthorised access and a variety of hazards such as arson, theft, squatting and unauthorised occupation.

More About Water damage from the impact of Winter:

Statistics from AXA insurance state that over the last two winters customers were three times more likely to have an escape of water claim than to have a theft claim. As a result, one in a thousand people fell victim to burst pipes, with the average claim reaching GBP 25,000.

Burst water pipes caused 3500 claims a day during the height of the 2010 winter cold spell. (Association of British Insurers)

Press contacts:

For more information regarding VPS or this release, please contact:

Graham Sievers
+44 (0)77 222 82 946
Knole Park Ltd, PR

or Adrienne Kearney
Head of Marketing
+44(0)8706 08706 2
VPS, Premiere House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1JH

Hi-res photos available upon request

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