Homeowners are being urged to ensure their properties are storm-proof as the winter season approaches.

The warning has come from Halifax Home Insurance, amidst predictions that Storms Ophelia and Brian are likely to be signs of weather conditions to come this winter.

Last winter the company handled 3,500 claims for storm damage - which was 50 per cent more than in the summer months.

David Rochester, head of underwriting for Halifax Home Insurance, said: “With winter

approaching, we are advising homeowners to take steps now to prepare their properties for

stormy weather. Being proactive could save a lot of time and money if the worst happens.

“The most important thing is having your insurer’s emergency contact details to hand and

staying up-to-date with weather warnings, so you can prepare ahead of time.”

The company has issued advice on how homeowners can prepare their properties for stormy weather.

It advises people to keep all gates, doors and windows securely fastened in the event of stormy weather.

Gutters should be cleared of debris to prevent an overflow if there is heavy rain.

Cut back any branches growing close to your property as they could cause damage if it becomes very windy.

Secure all external fittings, and move garden furniture and hanging plants if a storm is predicted.

Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and has your insurer's number on it plus any emergency contacts you may need.

Lastly check the condition of your roof and chimney and address any issues with broken tiles.