Update: 29 January 2014: Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have disrupted travel across northern England. Flights have been temporarily suspended at Manchester Airport, hundreds of schools have been closed and hazardous driving conditions have been reported. If you've been affected, make sure you're aware of your rights.
A post-Christmas cold snap caused thousands of homes to lose electricity across the UK, while overrunning engineering works led to huge disruption to train services.
Freezing temperatures left more than 100,000 homes without power last week and the cold weather, which reached a 2014 low of -8.8 in Katesbridge, Co Down on Sunday night, is expected to last until New Year's Day, according to the Met Office.
Meanwhile, a late finish to scheduled engineering works caused major disruption at London's King's Cross and Paddington railway stations on Saturday, with delays that ran into Sunday and Monday.
If you've been affected, here are some tips on your rights and what to do.
My power's been cut. Am I entitled to compensation?
In England, Scotland and Wales, if severe weather means you're without electricity for 24 hours continuously (48 hours in some cases), you're entitled to £27 compensation plus a further £27 for each additional 12-hour continuous outage. You need to claim from your electricity distributor, which is different from the firm you pay your bills to. To find yours, see the Energy Networks Association website.
Write to your distributor with details of the dates of your problem. You need to complain within three months, so get in touch with it as soon as you can.
Northern Ireland Electricity, which isn't regulated by Ofgem and therefore has different rules, says if it doesn't restore electricity within 24 hours households will be due £50 compensation, then £25 for every 12-hour period after that. You must make a claim within one month of the interruption.
My train was delayed. What do I do?
In the wake of Saturday's disruption at King's Cross and Paddington, delays occurred throughout Sunday and even impacted some commuters on Monday.
You may be entitled to a refund if your train was delayed by more than 30 minutes and if it was the fault of the train operator. However, what you get in compensation will depend on your train operator. See Train delays for full help.
My flight's been delayed or cancelled. What are my rights?
While the weather did not cause widespread disruption to airlines, Liverpool's John Lennon Airport and Yorkshire's Leeds Bradford International Airport were closed while their runways were cleared of snow.
If your flight itself is delayed, you aren't eligible for compensation if it's not the airline's fault. But if you're held up for more than two hours, whatever the reason, you may be entitled to food, drinks, phone calls and accommodation. If you paid for these, keep your receipts, then claim. See Flight Delay Rights for full information.
When a flight is cancelled, however long before it was due to take off, you have a right to either a refund or an alternative flight to your destination. See Flight Cancellation Rights for more details.
Train delays caused me to miss my flight. What are my rights?
If train delays cause you to miss a flight, you're unlikely to be able to get any additional compensation from the train company but you may be able to claim from your travel insurer. It comes under the "missed departures" section of your policy (though not all travel insurers offer this so double-check the small print first).
To be successful you'll need to show you allowed a reasonable amount of time for your journey to meet the flight. See Flight Compensation for full information.
Insurers have different terms and conditions for missed departures so always check your documents carefully. For example, LV ask for detailed account of why the flight was missed, including evidence from the public transport provider proving the delay to your transport.
I am driving my car to the airport but delays on the road have caused me to miss my flight? What are my rights?
Like train delays that cause you to miss a flight, delays on the road will be a matter for your travel insurer and will depend on the terms and conditions of your policy.
Almost all insurers will cover you if you have an accident or vehicle breakdown causes you to miss your flight, however some will not cover you for other incidents on the road. For example, Direct Line will not cover you for road closures but LV will cover you for an incident that causes serious delays if it could not have been avoided.
My property has been damaged during the cold snap. What should I do?
As long as you have adequate home insurance, you'll be covered for damage. Buildings insurance will cover the structure of your home as well as fixtures and fittings, while contents insurance will cover your possessions. When claiming, you'll have to pay a small amount towards repairs and replacements – known as an excess – so check your policy for full information.
Insurer Direct Line suggests the following:
- Take photographs of the damage to your building and contents, or film it. This may help with the settlement of your claim.
- Don't throw away possessions without first discussing it with your insurance claims adviser, as they will need to be assessed. Do not use electrical equipment or the gas supply until it has been checked by a qualified tradesperson.
- Store important documents, including insurance policy details and useful contact numbers, in a safe place.
If you have emergency damage, such as a smashed window or a gas leak, don’t wait to sort the problem. But don’t do anything it's not safe to do yourself – call a qualified tradesperson to help fix the damage. The Association of British Insurers says you should contact your insurer first as it should have a 24-hour claims line in operation.
But if you can't get through, or it won't be able to fix the problem quickly enough, arrange to have the damage fixed yourself by calling a plumber, electrician or builder. Make sure you keep any receipts.
My property hasn't been damaged but how can I protect my home against the cold weather?
The cold weather snap could also cause damage to your home, with January a peak month for burst pipes. However, there are steps you can take to protect your house and your belongings.
To prevent frozen pipes, which can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) recommends you leave some heating on even if you're away.
If you can set your thermostat so the heating comes on when it drops below 5 degrees that should do it. It adds that if your thermostat doesn't go down that far, setting it to come on for a couple of hours a night at about 15 degrees should be enough as it can take a long time for pipes to freeze. For more on using energy efficiently, see Energy Mythbusting.