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Winter warning- are your tools protected?

Winter poses unique challenges for tradespeople, especially when it comes to safeguarding their tools. Leaving tools in a van overnight can lead to a host of problems, from damage due to freezing temperatures to the risk of theft. Understanding the potential shortfalls and pitfalls of insurance coverage is crucial for mitigating these risks.

The Perils of Winter

Extreme cold can wreak havoc on tools, causing them to become brittle or malfunction. When left in a van overnight, the temperature inside can drop drastically, accelerating wear and tear. Water-sensitive equipment is particularly vulnerable, as moisture can lead to rust and corrosion. Additionally, batteries can drain quickly in cold weather, rendering cordless tools useless.

Theft and Vandalism

Winter nights are longer, providing more opportunity for potential thieves. Tools left in a van are an attractive target. Even if the van is locked, determined thieves can break in. Furthermore, vandalism is more likely to occur in remote areas during Winter months, compounding the risk.

Latest statistics show that van owners and operators are targeted around 624 times every day, on average. There are now over 225,000 break-ins or attempted break-ins each year and the average cost of items stolen from vehicles in the UK is £13,475.

Insurance: The Shortfalls

Insurance policies will normally exclude theft from vehicles overnight unless the vehicle is in a garage or secure compound, if not exclude it completely. Due to this, leaving tools in vans overnight means people are running the risk of paying for new ones themselves.

If possible, tools should be removed from vehicles overnight. If you are a contractor working on site, there will normally be cover for tools left in a secure area of the contract site. Where possible try to keep as many tools as possible on the contract site, as contract works insurance may be less onerous.

Sometimes insurers may investigate providing cover when requested. Often this will require some additional security, such as slam locks or locked toolboxes fitted to the fabric of the van, however you must tell your insurer if you will be doing this, otherwise cover will be excluded as standard.

To help try to reduce the risk, the following security measures could be implemented:

  • Secure Storage: Whenever possible, store tools indoors during winter. If this isn’t an option, consider investing in a secure toolshed or storage unit.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: Install additional security features such as alarms, motion sensor lights, and reinforced locks on your van.
  • Regular Inventory Checks: Perform routine checks to ensure all tools are accounted for. This helps identify any missing items sooner rather than later.
  • Climate Control: If possible, use a climate-controlled storage solution. This can protect tools from extreme temperatures and humidity.
  • Insurance Review: Regularly review your insurance policy to understand what is covered and what isn’t. Consider purchasing additional coverage for high-value tools.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of your tools, including serial numbers and receipts. This can expedite the claims process in the event of a loss.

Protecting your tools in Winter requires a combination of vigilance, smart storage practices, and comprehensive insurance coverage. By understanding the risks and taking proactive steps, you can safeguard your valuable equipment and ensure your business continues to thrive, even in the harshest of winter conditions.

By Lauren Walker FCIIChartered Insurance Broker


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