Winter weather poses a lot of risk for homeowners. Snow, water, ice and cold can cause damage to property, some of which may not be covered by a typical homeowners' insurance policy. Here, we look at some tips on how to protect your home from cold weather damage and how to ensure that any potential damage is covered.
1. Be Ready for Snow Damage
Snow damage can occur as a result of heavy snowfall. You should always be ready for snow damage once winter hits. Find out what your policy covers and determine whether it's adequate for the weather you typically get in your area. In addition, ensure that your home's exterior is properly maintained. If your home gets damaged due to snow, be sure to take plenty of photos for your insurance provider. Moreover, fix any minor damage as soon as it occurs; leaving it be may result in greater damage for which you could be held responsible according to the terms of your policy.
2. Watch for Falling Trees
If you live in an area that gets heavy snow during the winter months, be wary of falling trees because it usually happens whether due to snow or ice. However, don't expect your insurance provider to pay for the cleanup unless the terms say otherwise.
One major variable that might determine whether tree damage is covered depends on the tree's condition. Insurers consider dead trees a hazard; thus, you should remove any on your property before winter sets in. As for healthy ones, trim them and remove any dead branches. Besides protecting your own home, doing so can ensure you do not cause damage to neighboring homes. If one of your trees damages a neighbor's property, chances are they will have to file a claim with their respective insurer, which may, in turn, seek compensation from your insurance provider.
3. Protect Your Pipes
If you can, wrap your water pipes using insulation sleeves to ensure that they do not freeze and burst. It's also a good idea to keep a slow trickle of water constantly flowing through faucets connected to your main water pipes. This helps release the pressure that ice can produce in the pipes, which may lead to them bursting. Let hot water trickle through as the toilet typically releases cold water pressure.
4. Protect Your Interior Walls
To avoid ice damming, snow melting out of your gutters, seeping through your roof, and soaking into your walls, follow the steps below:
- Ensure your attic is ventilated.
- Insulate your attic floor so that heat does not rise as much.
- Consider getting a water-repellent membrane installed underneath your roof covering.
Though these steps come at some expense, they can prevent major damage. If something happens to your interior walls during the winter months, call your insurance provider to find out what is covered and what is not.
5. Don't Overload Your Circuits
It can be tempting to cover your house, indoors and out, with holiday decorations and lights for Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, but you shouldn't. This can lead to blown fuses, and that can be dangerous during the colder months. For example, if you have too many lights and decorations plugged in and your fuses blow and start a fire, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. This is especially true if you are not home at the time. To figure out whether you're insured for any fire damages, speak with your insurance provider.
Conclusion: Know Your Policy
Before all the cold, messy weather hits, speak with your insurance provider about your policies and exactly what they cover. As an extra step of precaution, have a professional come inspect your home and carry out the recommended maintenance before winter hits.