Around this time of year, insurance agents like us, get a little nervous. Colder days are coming and with that, we will start to see common winter home insurance claims. We know it’s not fun to think about the snow, single-digit temperatures or winter hazards when it’s been a beautiful, mild fall. But trust us, it’s best to start preparing now.
At Chalmers, we’ve been in business for over 165 winters, so we’ve seen our fair share of winter-related claims. In this article, we’ll go over 5 of the most common claims and how you can avoid them.
How to avoid ice dam damage:
An ice dam is an ice buildup forming at the edge of a roof, preventing snow and water from draining off your roof. Ice dams do melt and go away on their own eventually, but while they are present, they can leak into your home and cause damage to your roofing, walls, insulation, flooring, and more.
How to avoid frozen pipes:
When temperatures drop, especially over an extended time, it isn’t uncommon for pipes to freeze. When frozen pipes expand and burst, significant water damage can occur.
The most effective way to avoid frozen pipes is to keep your home at 65 degrees or more all winter long, even if you’re not home. Trust us, spending a little extra on heat is better than dealing with water damage.
You should also make sure your home is properly insulated, and specifically insulate pipes in unheated areas like basements, garages, or attics.
While pipe bursts are generally covered by insurance, they aren’t always covered if your insurance carrier determines you were negligent. So that’s why it’s essential to take these preventative measures.
How to avoid roof collapse:
If you have shoveled snow before, you know how heavy frozen, wet snow can be. So just imagine all the stress your roof is under when large amounts of snow linger for weeks at a time.
To prevent roof collapses, have your roof inspected regularly to make sure it is in good health. You should repair or replace any damaged areas to ensure structural integrity of your roof.
As snow piles on your roof, you should also be diligent about clearing it off so your roof isn’t bearing too much weight.
Avoid tree fall damage:
Trees are more likely to fall in the winter due to wind and the weight of snow. But the last thing you want is for a tree to come through your roof, so there are a few steps you should take to prevent tree falls.
Regularly inspect the trees around your home, especially before the winter comes and tree removal companies can still work on them. Signs of tree rot include holes or cracks in the bark, dead branches, fungus growth on the bark, and leaning or cracks in the ground from uprooting. If you see these signs in any of the trees surrounding your home, you should reach out to a tree removal company as soon as possible.
If a rotting tree falls on your home, insurance may not cover it since they consider it your responsibility to maintain the trees near your property.
Avoid winter fires:
Heating is one of the leading causes of house fires, so it’s no surprise that there is a significant increase in fires in the winter months. That’s why it is important to inspect and prepare heating systems before it gets cold and you need to turn them on. Before the start of every season, you should have a professional clean and inspect your chimney.
Unless you’re new to Maine or New Hampshire, we don’t need to tell you the weather can be severe here. While this article doesn’t cover all of the possible winter-claim-related scenarios, we hope these tips are useful. No matter how much home preparation you do for the winter weather, you can never 100% guarantee you won’t have a claim. So, if you do experience a winter-related claim, we are here for you!
Lastly, if you want to be extra prepared and know what to expect out of the home insurance claim process, check out this article: Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Home Insurance Claim.