Worries about frozen pipes, blocked drains and damaged digital cameras have helped West Midlands home emergency service and warranties firm Homeserve boost first half profits by almost a fifth.
The Walsall-based company said that by the end of September it had 4.31 million existing policies, up 30 per cent on the last year, helped by a record 664,000 new policies in the past six months alone.
Homeserve, which demerged from South Staffordshire Water last year, said turnover rose 70.3 per cent on the same period last year to £ 149.6 million while it returned profits from continuing operations of £12.7 million, up 17.9 per cent.
However, the firm predicted higher profits for the second period, given seasonal trends of policy renewal and repair work.
With forecasts of Britain facing its coldest winter in a decade, Homeserve reported that record numbers of customers were buying cover against plumbing and drainage problems.
Chief executive Richard Harpin said that newspaper headlines about an impending big freeze were proving good for business.
He added: "Just last week we had a record number of callers, about 66,000 people enquiring about policies and taking them out.
"There is now strong growth in plumbing and drainage cover, with people starting to think about the prospect of frozen pipes over the winter."
The company, whose slogan 'Your Home Emergency Service' is emblazoned across its fleet of bright red vans, arranges and carries out repairs on behalf of insurance companies.
A new three year contract to carry out building claims work across four trades for Liverpool Victoria is worth an estimated £66 million.
Electrical goods account for 660,000 of the policies sold - a figure boosted by a contract to provide warranties for camera manufacturer Konica Minolta.
In April, Homeserve acquired Chem-Dry, a specialist in fire and flood repair as well as carpet and upholstery cleaning, for £18.7 million.
Shares in the company rose nine per cent yesterday as the firm's board increased the half-yearly dividend to 6.1p a share from 5.1p.
Internationally, Homeserve reported 67 per cent growth in policy sales in France and 32 per cent in the United States but it has withdrawn from the Australian market after long summer droughts and damage to pipelines by tree roots led to three times as many claims being made as expected.
Executive chairman Brian Whitty said: "These results represent a good balance between delivering profit growth and investing."
Broker Merrill Lynch said the results were much better than expected.