From the Public Policy Office: Winter Homeowners Insurance Report
December 19, 2017
The winter months can be an unpleasant time for some living with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Not only can the winter elements be unwelcome for some, but they can be unforgiving on your home too. The Alabama Department of Insurance suggests that before the winter season approaches, take the time to look through your homeowners or rental insurance policy to determine if you are adequately covered should an accident occur. Let’s look at some tips to sidestep any headaches from winter accidents.
Prepare Your Home
Preparation is key to avoiding winter challenges. Here is a list of important items to consider.
- Outside water hoses and valves - disconnect and drain all outside hoses, and if possible, shut off outside water valves.
- The Roof - Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. Don’t forget to clean out the gutters.
- Water Pipes - Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer. During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms to ensure there is no plumbing damage from frozen pipes.
- Vents - Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents – doing so may prevent a fire.
During the holiday season, decorations, such as lights and Christmas trees, are enjoyable but may become fire hazards if not maintained properly. According to the National Fire Safety Protection Agency, U.S. fire departments respond to more than 200 home fires started by Christmas trees each year. Overloaded electrical outlets and dry Christmas trees are the leading causes of these fires. Responsible use of electrical outlets and watering your tree are the best ways to avoid a fire.
Winter Health – Slip and Fall Coverage
Does your homeowners or rental policy cover an injury from a fall on slippery ice? Whether it’s your sidewalk, driveway, or common area, you may not have the liability limits you need. Check your policy and determine if you need additional coverage and contact your agent if it is unclear.
Winter Fun – Equipment Coverage
If you plan on enjoying the snowy outdoors this winter, it is important to check your homeowners or rental insurance policy. According to the Alabama Department of Insurance, ski equipment is generally covered under your homeowners and rental policies. What about your All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)? Is it covered under your policy? If uncertain about its coverage, it may be a good time to contact your agent to ask about additional coverage.
Source: AL Dept. of Insurance, Avoid an Insurance Freeze This Winter, December 12, 2017 and National Association of Insurance Commissioners.