How to Keep Your Insurance Costs from Rising
Winters in Virginia can be long with temperatures ranging from mildly to bitterly cold. Kansas City’s average January low is 26 °F and St. Louis’s average January low is 29 °F. While our agents are here to help our clients with any claim needs; we also want to help clients avoid winter damage to their home.
Losses from snow, ice and freezing temperatures have averaged about $1.2 billion a year, and may be double that amount this year. This article provides useful tips for homeowners to keep in mind during the winter months. Virginia Home Insurance | Avoiding Claims in the Winter.
- Clean out gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, which is what happens when water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead permeates into the house.
- Install gutter guards to prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice and snow can sometimes become very heavy and could cause weak trees or branches to break free and damage your home.
- Repair steps and handrails so that visitors on your property are safe and avoid injury.
- Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations to prevent cold air and moisture from entering your home.
How to Avoid Freezing Pipes & Water Damage
- Keep the house warm. Set the thermostat no lower than 65 degrees.
- During super harsh cold weather, turn on faucets so that a trickle of water continues running through the pipes.
- Check pipes. Look closely for the presence of cracks and leaks, and have them repaired immediately. Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should be protected with insulation.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect the system against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.
- Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water then can refreeze, leading to more ice build-up—and even ice dams that can damage your roof.
- Have a back-up power source. In the event of a power outage, continuous power will keep you warm and help to prevent frozen pipes, or a frozen battery operated sump-pump.
- Flooding related to melting snow can cause sewer systems to overflow; hence causing raw sewage to back up into the drains in your home. Some carriers offer water & sewer backup coverage. This coverage is not part of the typical homeowners insurance policy, but may be purchased as an endorsement.
- Sewer backup is NOT covered with flood insurance. Flood Insurance is a separate policy available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance covers floods from tidal surge and overflowing bodies of water.
- Install a Backwater Prevention Valve. A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your home or business to prevent sewer backflows.
Wood Stoves & Fire Places
- Remove combustible items placed near any hart sources. This includes wood stoves and space heaters.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Not only do residential fires increase in the winter, but so does carbon monoxide poisoning—so check that your detectors are in working condition on a regular basis.
- Have your heating systems serviced. Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.
What’s in Your Policy?
Most homeowners insurance policies have a deductible that the insured is responsible for paying. And if the claim exceeds the policy’s limits, the insured could be responsible for additional costs. Licensed agents with The Insurance Advisor will review homeowner policies at no charge. Winter damage could cause insurmountable damage, so it is important to make sure the right coverages are in place.
Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, said most standard homeowners’ and renters’ policies cover damage from burst pipes and other winter-related mishaps, including roofs that collapse from the weight of snow and water damage from ice dams.
It’s best to check your policy ahead of time, to make sure you know just what it covers, and what your coverage limits are.