Severe winter weather is the third cause of insured disasters after hurricanes and tornadoes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This means that this is a very common occurrence, but luckily for you, these damages can be preventable. Losses from snow and ice cost an average of about $1.2 billion a year, but will most likely double this year.
It is always a very good idea to prepare your home for cold temperatures because it is the number one way to avoid problems that can end up costing you’re a lot of money, such as frozen or burst pipes. Did you know, the average claim for damage from a frozen pipe alone is about $18,000?
So why is this so high? The repairing process is actually the least costly part of a claim. The damage to the home and the items in it from water damage is what really runs up the bill. But, what is the most costly? According to a claims officer, the answer to that is repairing the flooring and drywall.
Another winter-claim related category is when trees collapse due to the weight of ice and snow. On average, this ranges from $10,000 in the West, and $3,000 to $5,000 in other parts of the country. Obviously, if you have a valid claim you won’t have to worry about paying the full costs of the damage out of pocket, but that is the whole point of having insurance. But, most companies do have a deductible policy that you will be responsible to paying for. And if your claim exceeds any limits on your policy you may also be responsible to pay for additional costs.
A spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute stated that most standard homeowner’s and renter’s policies cover damages from burst pipes and other winter related issues, even collapsed roofs from ice dams and the weight of snow.
Unfortunately not all winter damages are covered. For example, if melting snow makes its way into the septic systems, it could cause a sewer backup in your basement that wouldn’t be covered. That is why it is a good idea to check your policy ahead of time so that you know exactly what if covered and what the limits are. If you have expensive items that could possibly be damaged from burst pipes, you might want to purchase more coverage.
Here are some questions pertaining to winter weather damage:
How do I prevent frozen pipes in my home?
First, make sure that your heating system is in tip top shape and that any pipes that may be exposed to the extreme cold are properly insulated. If you take a vacation in the winter, make sure that you leave the heat on at least 65 degrees. If you are planning to take an extended vacation, have your water turned off and pipes drained.
What do I do if my pipes do freeze?
The first thing you will want to do is shut off the water at the main to prevent any further damage from occurring. That is why it is always a good idea to know where your main shut off valve is. After that, you should call a plumber or restoration contractor to do the initial repairs and cleanup. Taking photos of the damage is a good idea because then you will have visual evidence to back up your claim.
How do I prevent ice dams?
The best way to do this is by using a “roof rake” which is a tool that has a large handle and will remove snow from your roof. It is about $40 to $50 in hardware stores or online. Also, make sure that your gutters are cleaned regularly so that less water is likely to be stored in there and freeze.