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NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2019 – Many U.S. states experienced winter weather conditions this fall even though the season’s official start is Saturday, Dec. 21, meaning months of snow, ice and frigid temperatures lay ahead.
To protect your residence and car, as well as minimizing your risks of sustaining property damage from the impacts of winter weather, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) offers the following guidance.
Inside Your Home
If you have already prepped your home for winter weather, you are ahead of the game. When the temperature drops below freezing, here are some preventative steps you can take:
- Keep your home heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. This will help prevent pipes inside the walls from freezing
- Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip. Keeping water moving within the pipes will help prevent freezing
- Check that fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters are working properly. Make sure there are no combustible items near the heat sources and watch them closely
- Keep your fireplace flue closed when you are not using it. This will prevent heat from escaping up your chimney when the fireplace is not in use
Outside Your Home
The weight of snow and ice can damage your roof. Clogged gutters might allow water to seep into your house. Vigilance is key during severe winter weather. Follow these steps to prevent potential hazards from occurring outside your home as snow and ice accumulate:
- Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice. You don’t want anyone to slip and fall and sustain an injury on your property
- Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house. Clear gutters of leaves and debris to allow runoff from melting snow and ice to flow freely
- Check for dead, damaged or dangerous tree branches and have them removed. Trees can be affected by ice, snow or wind. When stressed, branches can fall and damage your house or car, or injure someone on or near your property
Insurance Coverage for Winter Losses
Standard homeowners’ insurance provides coverage for damage to your property caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain. Property damage caused by flooding is not covered by either standard homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies.
Melting snow that seeps into a home, apartment or condominium from the ground up would be covered by flood insurance, which is provided by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers. Your insurance professional can help you add this coverage.
If you are involved in an auto accident between two or more vehicles caused by snowy and slippery road conditions, or crash into an object like a light pole, that damage is covered by a standard auto insurance policy. If a tree falls on your car and causes damage, or if it sustains water damage from a flood, that is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
Filing a Claim
If you need to file an insurance claim for winter weather damage to your home or auto, you should contact your insurance professional as soon as possible. Let your agent know the extent of the damage and document your loss with lists, receipts and photographs. Having a home inventory is a good way to prepare for potential losses to your property.
Winter storm-caused damage in the U.S. caused about $3 billion in insured losses in 2018.
Facts & Statistics: Winter Storms, Flood Insurance
Articles: Winter Preparedness, Flood Insurance
The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its YouTube Channel. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here.
THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.
Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org