Each year, the snow, ice, freezing, and flooding that comes with winter weather causes billions of dollars in insured losses along with a whole host of headaches (double ouch). According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter weather caused a record $15.1 billion in insured losses in the first few months of 2021.
And, in much of the country, freezing temperatures and ice storms can last well into what we may have typically called “spring.” AccuWeather reports parts of the country are likely to experience extended winter weather this year. With all of this in mind, it’s important to not only prepare your property to weather the winter before the season but to monitor and maintain your home to handle all the season has to throw at it.
Before the Season Starts
Heading into winter storm season, it’s essential to get your home in order to help avoid – or even mitigate – damage caused by a storm.
- Start by clearing gutters of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts that can cause water to build up and seep back into your house.
- Check to make sure your attic is insulated and ventilated to prevent the roof from becoming warm enough to melt the snow on it when the air temperature is far lower, which causes more ice.
- Remove all spigots from outside faucets and turn off the flow of water to outside pipes. You should also identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home in case you have to use it.
- Outside of your home, tree limbs and power lines can break and fall because of the ice, snow, or wind. Clear them out and watch for dead, damaged, or dangerous branches that could break, fall and harm your house, a car or injure someone walking near your property.
- Reach out to your municipality if you believe exterior power lines or structures are at risk of more severe damage, too.
- The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. That said, plan to keep the house heated to at least 65o F when outside temps chill to prevent the inside walls from freezing.
- If you know you will be away for any length of time during the winter months, ensure a friend or neighbor keeps an eye on your property while you’re gone.
- Consider investing in a generator to maintain heat and power in case winter weather causes a power outage.
If Your Home Suffers Damage
If you experience damage, document the list of damages, take photographs, and call your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Make any temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage, such as turning off cracked pipes, covering broken windows, mopping up water or removing any carpet or furniture. Just be sure to save the receipts for what you spend so you can submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
- Reimbursement from your insurance provider can take several weeks or months to collect depending on the level of damage and if your insurance company needs to send an insurance adjuster to inspect your property.
- If you have Recoop Disaster Insurance and the winter storm in your area has been named a natural disaster by the state of federal government, you can submit photos of the damages to apply for your Recoop cash immediately. Recoop recovery cash is typically approved within days. And it’s flexible, so you can start using your funds to cover the cost of displacement from your property, make immediate repairs to make your home inhabitable, or even cover your insurance deductible.
With winter weather comes unpredictability. By taking the correct steps before and after winter weather hits, you can take some of the unpredictability out of the equation and get your property feeling like a home again.