How to Prevent Winter Insurance Claims

We see many seasonal claims reported during the winter.  The months of January and February can be brutal, we are in the thick of it!  From ice dams, to frozen pipes, to slip and falls homeowners claims can be pricey.  Here are some ways to prevent some of the most common winter home insurance claims.

Ice Dams

Ice dams occur when the attic of a house is too warm and it causes the under layer of snow and ice on the roof to melt and then build up. The water then gets under the eaves and causes roof leaks and water damage in to the house.  Those pretty icicles on the edge of your roof are ice dams and are not good for your house.  The best ways to prevent ice dams are proper attic insulation, adequate attic ventilation and removal of snow from your roof after a snow storm.  If you are unable to remove the snow from your roof yourself, there are many companies that will do it.  Make sure you find a reputable one that has referrals.

Also, make sure in older homes that there are no kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans going to the attic.  Ice dams are fairly common in Massachusetts and are very costly when claims are filed.

Frozen Pipes

When the temperatures outside are below freezing pipes in poorly insulated areas, like the garage and attic, have a risk of freezing and could eventually burst.  When a pipe bursts in the home it could cost thousands of dollars in damage.  Some ways to prevent pipes from freezing: insulate pipes in cold areas of the house, keep the water dripping when the temps get extremely cold, keep interior doors open to promote heat circulation, seal off any leaks in the wall near pipes that would let cold air in and warm air out.

Slip and Fall

Winter storms can dump a lot of snow in our area.  It is important as a homeowner to properly shovel/snowblow all walkways and use a non-slip ice melt.  You are responsible for the safety of  people who come on to your property, invited or uninvited.  Slip and fall claims can be very expensive depending on the extent of injuries.

Winter conditions can create costly home disasters.  The best way to protect your home is prevention.  However, if you do encounter one of these winter woes most home insurance policies will cover the damages.  Please call us with any questions or to go over your coverage to make sure you are adequately insured.  Happy Winter!

Watch Out For Ice Dams!

With all the snow the region has been receiving many have snow accumulation on their home or building roof. This snow accumulation is dangerous for two reasons.  The weight of the snow on any flat part of the roof could cause collapse and the other reason is ice dams.2 5 15 ice dam ang e1423163667936 300x300

Ice dams form when the heat from the attic melts the snow on the roof, but then stops melting when it reaches the eaves where there is no heat underneath. Consequently, this forms a solid barrier of ice on the edge of the roof. When there is an ice dam the melting snow on the roof above the ice dam on the roof allows water to find its way under the shingles on the roof. Water under the shingles can leak into your house and cause water damage inside. This could lead to numerous other issues such as mold and property damage. Another issue with ice dams is the formation of large icicles. Some of the icicles can get enormous and be a danger if they fall on a person or property below.

To prevent ice dams make sure the floor of the attic is properly insulated. This prevents the heat from the house getting up to the attic. Also, it is important to stay diligent to rake the snow off of your roof so there is no accumulation of ice from the melting snow. The best type of rake is made of aluminum and has wheels on it so it doesn’t damage your roof shingles. If you have ice dams and want to get rid of them, it is not a good idea to break up the ice with a hammer or other hard object, as you could damage your roof.

A trick from This Old House to melt ice dams (not recommended on a regular basis, as it could damage gutters because the chemicals are corrosives): take a pair of old nylon pantyhose and cut the legs off, fill with calcium chloride ice melter. Place the nylons on the roof of the house so the toe part hangs over the edge of the roof. This channels the melting ice water off of the roof.

If you do have ice dams and the water backup has caused damage inside your house, most of this is covered under your homeowners policy after your deductible is met. However, if your roof has not been maintained over the years and the leak is from poor upkeep of your property, the loss may not be covered. Please call us with specific questions on a loss to see if it is covered. The best way to avoid a loss is preventative action to insulate properly and remove snow from your roof!