As the weather gets much colder, storms and below-freezing temperatures come with certain risks.
To start the year off on a positive note, insurers are sharing tips and strategies with policyholders to help them to prevent having to make winter home insurance claims.
Damage and liability from storms, high winds, and freezing temperatures are often avoidable.
Insurance Information Institute data showed that last year, there were $2.1 billion in winter home insurance claims caused by storms from this time of the year. That said, if policyholders had all taken certain affordable and practical precautions, it is possible that this figure may have been substantially lower.
Insurers always recommend that policyholders inform themselves early regarding the steps they can take to prevent damage to their properties. This starts with reviewing coverage and making certain that the right protections are in place. Once coverage has been reviewed and, if necessary, updated, then insurers recommend certain steps to keep properties safe and sound.
The following are the top tips recommended by insurers to prevent winter home insurance claims.
Aside from storms, one of the leading sources of home damage in the wintertime is from frozen pipes that burst. The reason that this is one of the most significant sources of damage is that the repair of the pipe itself is only the beginning of a much larger issue. All the leaked water often leads to water damage and mold issues. Close behind that form of damage, the next most common is water and freezing damage.
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Preventing frozen bursting pipes, water damage and freezing damage can be prevented by draining exterior hoses, pipes and sprinkler lines, insulating all pipes in unheated areas such as those in exterior walls and in basements, garages, crawlspaces and attics. Keeping the home warm enough to keep the pipes warm can be very effective. When heading out of town, the thermostat should be left at 65 degrees or higher. The garage door should be closed as much as possible. On exceptionally cold days, the faucet should be left to drip. Know where your pipe shut-off valve is, just in case your best efforts don’t end up preventing a frozen pipe.
Wind damage is another damaging factor, especially throughout the middle part of the country. Unless there is a specific exclusion on a policy, hail and wind are both typically covered. Still, it’s even better when these types of winter home insurance claims don’t need to be made. Preparing for wind from storms at this time of year includes steps such as removing anything that isn’t secured – including children’s toys, outdoor furniture and ornaments. Check for anything loose, including shutters and gutters, and secure them. Trim trees near the house and keep an electric saw – that you know how to use – nearby to cut away any fallen branches that may occur.
Winter home insurance claims beyond damage
Finally, take care to keep clear any accumulations of ice and snow in gutters, on decks and along walkways. This can prevent extremely expensive damage and can prevent slips and falls. Keep in mind that while some winter home insurance claims are for damage, others are for liability if someone gets hurt. In both cases, it’s best to prevent them whenever possible.