5 Winter Insurance Tips to Reduce Risk
Winter is coming, and that means more risk for homeowners. If you live in Northern California or the Sierra Nevada, you already know that snow, water, ice, even the cold weather alone can cause property damage. What you may not know is that some of that damage isn’t automatically covered by your homeowners’ insurance.
Here are five valuable tips that can help you protect your home from winter weather – and how to be sure potential damage is covered by your homeowners’ policy.
- Prepare for snow.
A heavy snowfall leaves a wonderful pillow of snow in your yard, but it also can cause great damage your home.
Snow is heavy. As it accumulates on your roof, there’s reason to worry about the weight on your roof. You’re encouraged to get up on the roof – safely, of course – and shovel the snow off before your roof has a chance to fail.
Here’s something to look for in your homeowners’ policy if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow: make sure your policy provides coverage for weight of ice, snow, and sleet. If not, you’re not covered and your claim for a damaged roof will not be paid.
Note too, that if your damaged roof lets snow in and you neglect to shovel it out the door, you may not have coverage for the water damage it will cause when it melts.
- Watch for falling trees.
Yes, many trees crack and fall under snow and heavy ice. Even if they don’t hit your house, car or other belongings, a fallen tree can be an incredible hassle to clear away.
If you have dead trees on your property, remove them as soon as possible. Pay attention to healthy trees, too. Trim them to make sure none of the branches pose a risk of breaking off and damaging your – or your neighbor’s – property (If your tree falls and causes damage to a neighbor’s property, chances are they will file a claim with their insurer, which may, in turn, seek compensation from your insurance provider).
Finally, most policies don’t cover the cleanup after a tree falls. Pay attention to the details of the coverage: some policies don’t cover tree damage if the tree was in poor condition or wasn’t trimmed as needed.
- Protect your pipes.
Burst pipes are a common homeowners’ claim in areas where it freezes, but you can take one key step reduce the chances it could happen:
Before winter arrives, wrap your water pipes with insulation sleeves to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
- Protect your interior walls.
If ice dams on your roof, snow could melt out of your gutters and seep through the roof, soaking into your interior walls, causing difficult and costly repairs. Here’s how to prevent that from happening:
- Make sure your attic is ventilated
- Insulate your attic floor to prevent heat from rising
- Consider installing a water-repellent membrane underneath your roof covering
These steps take a financial investment, but will prevent major damage in the long run.
- Don’t overload your circuits.
During the winter, household electrical circuits are expected to work extra hard. We typically use portable heaters, electric blankets and other appliances, electronic devices and holiday lights that can overload the outlets.
Use caution with house electricity. Overloading can lead to blown fuses, which can be dangerous and start a fire – especially when you’re not home. Remember to unplug any non-essential items when you’re stepping out. And be sure to check out your homeowners’ policy to see if you’re covered for fire damage.
Solution: Read your policy – even the fine print.
No matter what time of year it is, you should know exactly what your homeowners’ policy covers. Work with your insurance advisor to make sure you have the coverage you need. A precaution is to hire a professional to inspect your home and carry out any recommended maintenance before the winter weather strikes. Then relax and enjoy a cup of tea or hot cocoa, knowing that you’re protected.
Winter is coming. Contact me.
If you have any questions, or would like to explore insurance solutions, please call (530) 661-0666 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.