Home insurance claims are filed 365 days a year, but did you know that 51% of them are filed in the winter months? From frozen pipes to slips and falls, wind damage, and more, your risk of experiencing an accident is more likely from December through March in New England. The best way to reduce your risk is to take preventative measures and always be mindful of potential dangers.
Here are the most common winter home insurance claims and how you can prevent them:
1. Frozen pipes
Frozen pipes are the #1 most common home insurance claim throughout the winter, and perhaps one of the most preventable. A frozen pipe can burst, causing minor to significant water damage and possibly an even greater financial burden.
To prevent frozen and burst pipes:
- Know where to look: Exposed pipes, such as swimming pool lines and water sprinkler lines, are most likely to freeze, but pipes that run along exterior walls in the home with minimal insulation also tend to freeze easily. Some of the most common areas where pipes freeze are the basement, kitchen, and laundry room. Pay attention to any recently renovated areas of your home as well.
- Insulate pipes in unheated or underheated areas, such as crawl spaces, attics, and along outside walls using insulation, heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables.
- Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
- Seal drafts from windows, doors, and patios with caulk or weather-proofing kits.
- Disconnect outdoor hoses and shut off the water supply to outdoor faucets.
- Leave a trickle of water running from your indoor faucets or showers overnight or during cold spells, as still water will freeze faster than flowing water.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night during cold spells.
- Do not set your thermostat lower than 55° F while away on vacation. Ask someone to periodically check on your home, and the temperature in your home, while you are away.
Learn more about frozen pipe prevention and what to do if you should experience one here.
2. Ice dams
Ice dams form when snow melts and refreezes near the gutters or roof edges. When the ice begins to melt again, the water can seep under roof shingles, leading to mold and leakage.
Follow these steps for prevention:
- Insulate your attic and seal areas where warm air can leak up from your home.
- Have a professional come and inspect your roof to identify susceptible areas.
- Consider installing heat cables and rubberized shingles.
- Keep gutters clear of debris so snow and ice can drain.
Learn more about ice dam prevention here.
3. Downed trees
Under the weight of snow and ice and in heavy wind and snowstorms, downed trees are likely to happen. Large branches that extend over your home could be a potential risk if not dealt with ahead of time. Make sure you trim your trees regularly and have a professional come to inspect any potential risks you may not be aware of yourself. If you do experience damage and haven’t taken precautions, your claim may be denied due to negligence.
4. Home fires
The winter is one of the coziest times of the year, but that doesn’t come without some risks. From unattended candles and fireplaces to kitchen accidents, and holiday decor, hazards are around every corner.
To protect your home and more importantly, your family:
- Always have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
- Make an emergency evacuation plan.
- Never leave open flames unattended.
- Turn off space heaters when you’re not present.
- Keep all gas tanks and grills a minimum of 10 feet from your home or other structures on your property.
- Keep Christmas trees hydrated and far from heat sources.
- Unplug any lights and decor before you leave the house or go to bed.
- Don’t use a gas stove or fireplace to heat your home.
- Ensure electrical wires are out of reach of children and pets.
- If you think you smell gas in your home, immediately go outside and away from your home and call the gas company.
With the winter months comes the holidays, and that means a lot of time getting together with friends and loved ones. Any time guests enter your home, you become susceptible to a lawsuit in the event of an accident or injury, but especially in the winter as hazards increase. For example, a guest visits your home and he or she slips and falls on an icy walkway then sues you for damages.
To help prevent accidents, make sure safety is always a priority before you have guests at your home. Read our blog, Safety Tips for Holiday Hosting to make sure you’re taking all the precautions you need to.
We hope these tips help you reduce your risk of experiencing a home claim this winter. To learn more or request a quote, please visit our website. Or, you can call us at (800) 333-7234, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website to learn more about the insurance solutions that we can provide for you.