Proper insurance coverage is crucial with cold weather in the forecast
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With frigid temperatures on the way, AAA reminds homeowners and renters that preparing and maintaining a home for inclement weather is essential to help avoid winter-related repairs. Prolonged periods of below freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a home’s heating system, plumbing and exterior features. Maintaining property during cold strikes is essential to reduce the risk of winter damage.
“As winter begins, homeowners and renters should be proactive in making sure their residence is ready for cold weather,” said Jonathon King, vice president of insurance sales, AAA East Central. “By taking measures to ensure a home’s interior and exterior are prepared for frigid temperatures, high repair costs and headaches can be avoided.”
AAA advice for protecting homes in cold temperatures:
- Know where water shutoff valves are located so water can be turned off in case of an emergency.
- Let faucets drip a little bit to prevent freezing pipes.
- Remove hoses from exterior faucets.
- Repair or replace weather stripping around windows, doors, vents and fans, plumbing, air conditioners and electrical and gas lines.
- Use caulk or insulation to seal all cracks, holes and other openings on exterior walls.
- Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will help protect pipes. Close foundation vents and windows to basements. Wrap vulnerable pipes with pipe insulation.
- Air inside the walls where pipes are can be much colder than air in the room, so set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature even if no one will be home.
- Keep bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
- Close wood burning fireplace flue dampers when not in use. Follow all manufacturer instructions for gas fireplaces including those with pilot lights.
Winter damage that is covered by homeowner’s insurance
Winter comes with snow and sometimes lots of it. If a roof collapses or is damaged due to the weight of snow or ice from a storm, a standard home insurance policy may cover the damage.
Another threat to homes in the winter season are cold snaps. Water left standing in pipes when the temperature drops may expand with enough force to cause it to burst, leading to serious water damage if the issue isn’t immediately identified. Damage caused from burst pipes as well as the repair costs are covered by most standard home insurance policies, as long as regular maintenance is performed and owners maintain heat in the building.
What’s not covered by homeowner’s insurance
Most storm damage is covered under home insurance but there are exclusions that could apply. Flash floods caused by a sudden rise in temperature during the winter months can cause significant damage to a home that will not be covered by a standard home insurance policy, but flood insurance can be purchased separately.
Most damages not covered by insurance are due to homeowner neglect or lack of maintenance. These may include damages resulting from extreme cold due to failure to maintain heat in the home.
More winter liabilities
Slips and falls on property are always a possibility in winter. Such incidents are likely covered by the liability coverage that comes with a home insurance policy, but it’s a good idea to double check with an insurance agent. If an incident like this occurs, help with potential legal aspects may also be included in insurance policies.
By taking the necessary precautions, making an insurance claim this winter season can be avoided. Trimming threatening trees, shutting off water and draining pipes, and cleaning gutters are all things that can be done before it gets too cold. Homeowners and renters are advised to contact their local AAA branch office for a competitive quote on homeowners insurance.