Four Frequent Winter Dwelling Insurance Claims And How To Stop Them – The Southern

Ben Moore

Falling temperatures or a snow storm, winter weather can have devastating consequences in a house. But you can avoid a disaster with some preventive measures.

Here are four common types of winter home damage and how to prevent it, and how home insurance works when you can't.

1. Burst water pipes

If your kitchen faucet doesn't work on a cold winter morning, you could have a frozen water pipe. Frozen pipes can burst and accidentally cause water damage that can be costly to repair.

To avoid burst pipes, keep your faucets dripping on the coldest days to keep tap water from freezing. Cover pipes with sleeves or newspaper in rooms exposed to the coldest temperatures, such as basements and attics. If a pipe freezes, turn off your water immediately, then use a heating pad or hair dryer to defrost the frozen water.

But don't worry if a pipe bursts. "Almost all [home] insurance policies cover the damage caused by a burst pipe," says Steve Wilson, Senior Underwriting Manager at Hippo Insurance. As soon as you have paid your deductible, your home contents insurance pays out up to the amount of your policy. Your home insurance covers home repair costs, while your personal property insurance covers damaged items.

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Remember that homeowners are expected to take steps to reduce the risk of such damage, such as: When water damage occurs, homeowners need to take steps to mitigate further damage, such as: B. close the water valve.

2. Ice dams on the roof

An “ice dam” forms on a roof when snow melts and freezes again near gutters or roof edges. When the ice begins to melt again, the water can seep under the shingles, which can lead to mold and leaks. And the following icicles hanging from your roof may be adorable, but one heavy icicle could tear down a gutter.

Your home insurance is likely to cover damage caused by ice dams, but some extra care could prevent this from happening entirely. Make sure your attic is adequately insulated by sealing off spots where warm air can escape from your living areas. This will keep your roof cold, which will prevent an ice dam from forming. Have a professional inspect your roof to see if solutions like heating cables and rubberized shingles can prevent ice dams in the first place. You should also keep all gutters clear of debris so that the melted snow can drain properly.

Don't climb on your roof to scrape off snow. This can damage the shingles and weaken your roof over time.

3. Fallen branches

Large branches that span a house can be a problem in winter. "We're going to get branches that break and fall on houses or fences … because of the weight of the ice," said John Merkle, property claims manager for Country Financial.

If an icy branch collapses, your home insurance policy should cover necessary repairs to the home while your other home insurance pays for things like a damaged fence or shed.

Merkle recommends pruning your trees regularly to avoid the problem altogether. In fact, an insurer can deny a claim if the damage is deemed to be a result of lack of maintenance over time.

4. House fires

House fires are a common cause of winter insurance claims as people light candles and their fireplaces. These tips can help prevent unwanted flames:

  • In the event of a power failure, use flashlights instead of candles and turn off all electrical appliances.
  • Keep Christmas trees moisturized so they don't dry out and become a fire hazard.
  • Never use your stove to heat your home.
  • Keep portable heaters at least three feet from flammable objects and unplug them while sleeping.
  • Install a glass or metal panel in front of your fireplace and have it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep once a year.

Your home insurance pays for fire damage as long as the fire was not intentional. If you have to live elsewhere because of smoking or remodeling, your insurance policy's downtime cover can help pay hotel bills and additional living expenses. Keep all receipts in case your insurer requires a record of expenses.

Know your insurance limits and exclusions

Talk to your insurance agent or company about what is and what is not on your home insurance policy so that you are prepared in the event of a disaster. You can also check the explanation page provided by your insurer for a list of insured benefits and the exclusions section of your policy for anything not covered.

Anything else to check? Your personal property limits. Certain items such as jewelry or antiques may have lower limits than other items. If you have a lot of valuables, you may need additional coverage.

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