“Winter storms cause more than $1 billion in insured losses each year, but homeowners can reduce their risk of damage by taking a few simple actions to prepare before the snow, ice, and cold weather arrive,” said Jessica Hanson Hanna, senior vice president of public affairs for APCIA. “A burst pipe alone can cause $5,000 in water damages, so it pays to be prepared by doing things like insulating pipes and letting faucets slowly trickle during extreme cold.”
Burst pipes, damage from falling tree limbs, roof or deck collapses, and car accidents are common winter insurance claims. Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold, and freezing rain. Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams are covered, however there is generally a requirement that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to prevent these losses by keeping the house warm and properly maintaining pipes and drains. If your home is damaged during harsh winter weather, contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible.
Severe winter weather also brings hazardous conditions to roadways. Motorists should give themselves extra time when traveling and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Motorists should also keep an emergency travel kit in their vehicle with items like blankets, jumper cables, a windshield scraper, shovel, flashlight, salt, bottled water, and snacks.
Create a home inventory that includes photos of your belongings and the exterior of your home.
Insulate pipes, especially those leading to the outside, and check to see that warm air is flowing around and under sinks.
Make sure there is clear access to the main water shut-off valve in case there is a leak or a pipe suddenly bursts.
Open the water faucets enough to allow a slow trickle of water to maintain the flow of water in the lines and help prevent freezing.
Set the thermostat to maintain a warm temperature inside the home.
Maintain a three-foot clearance around heating equipment to reduce the risk of fire.