The most frequent winter problems for homeowners are frozen pipes, power outages, and damage caused by falling trees. However, in an extremely heavy ice or snowstorm, it is possible for the weight of ice, snow, or sleet to cause the collapse of a roof. Below are some ways to prevent and prepare for such emergencies:
• Homeowners are encouraged to create a home inventory with photographs and detailed descriptions in advance of winter.
• Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain.
• Tree limbs that fall on a house or other insured structure on the property would be covered for both the damage inflicted and the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500. Damage from the weight of ice and snow that fall on the home are also covered.
• Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams, a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls, is covered (while the actual pipe itself is generally not covered). However, there is generally a requirement that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to prevent these losses by keeping the house warm and properly maintaining the pipes and drains.
Advice for preventing frozen pipes:
• Insulate pipes, especially those leading to the outside, and plug holes around the pipes with insulation or spray-in foam. Make sure there is warm air flowing around and under sinks to make sure they will get adequate heat.
• Set the heat in the home warm enough to avoid problems. At night, the heating system needs to circulate water through radiator and baseboard heating units to avoid freezing.
• Make sure there is clear access to the main water shut-off valve in case there is a leak or a pipe suddenly bursts.
• Open the water faucets in your sinks enough to allow a slow trickle of water to maintain the flow of water in the lines and help prevent freezing. Make sure your sink drains are open.
Be prepared this winter! If you have questions regarding what is covered on your homeowners policy, contact your local IMT Agent!
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