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.
NerdWallet – NerdWallet
Here are four common types of winter home damage and how to prevent it, and how home insurance works when you can’t.
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 everything [home] Insurance policies cover the damage caused by a burst pipe, ”said 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.
Remember that homeowners are expected to take steps to reduce the risk, such as: B. to keep the temperature of the house at least 55 degrees in cold weather. When water damage occurs, homeowners need to take steps to minimize further damage, such as: B. to close the water valve.
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 from forming 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.
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 fall on fences … because of the weight of the ice,” said John Merkle, property claims manager for Country Financial.
If an icy branch collapses, your insurance policy’s home coverage should cover necessary repairs to the home while your other building coverage 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 result from a lack of maintenance over time.
House fires are a common cause of winter insurance claims as people light candles and their fireplaces. These tips can help prevent unwanted flames:
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 company’s downtime cover can help pay hotel bills and additional living expenses. Keep all receipts in case your insurer requires a record of expenses.
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 that is not insured.
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.
Ben Moore writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
The article 4 Common Winter Home Insurance Claims and How to Prevent Them originally appeared on NerdWallet.