SEATTLE – Freezing temperatures, ice, snow and wind can devastate homes and businesses if they are not properly winterized. Winter storms are the third-largest cause of property loss in America, resulting in about $1.3 billion in insured losses annually, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Winter weather-related losses such as burst pipes, wind damage, ice dams, frozen gutters and damage caused by the weight of ice or snow are covered under standard Homeowners Insurance andBusiness Owners policies. However, damage caused by flooding from an outside source is specifically excluded under standard home and business insurance policies.
Winterizing your home or business also eliminates many inconveniences caused by weather-related losses.
“Even when you have insurance, the hassle of waiting for your home or business to be repaired can be avoided,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “It takes some work, but it’s definitely worth the effort to winterize your home.”
Shut the door on Old Man Winter and protect your home or business by following these easy, do-it-yourself tips:
· Maintain gutters. Remove leaves, pinecones, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice dams from forming, which can push melting water under the roofing and into your attic. You also may consider installing gutter guards – screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and blocking drainpipes.
· Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break and cause damage to your home or car.
· Check insulation. 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. The water can re-freeze, allowing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof.
· Maintain pipes. Wrap pipes with pipe insulation or heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Repair them immediately to prevent much costlier repairs.
· Keep your house warm. During freezing weather, the temperature in your home should be at least 65 degrees. The air inside the walls where pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A room temperature below 65 degrees will not keep pipes from freezing.
· Get to know your plumbing. Learn how to shut off the water and know where your home’s pipes are located. If pipes freeze, you may be able to prevent the pipes from bursting by taking immediate action. Quickly shut off the water and direct your plumber to the problem.
For more information on winterizing your home or business, visit the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the Insurance Information Institute. To request a free copy of Surviving Severe Cold Weather, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org