Anticipating a Snowstorm? Seasonal Tips for Homeowners
The Great Plains and Pacific Northwest have a history of snowstorms, with some particularly severe ones in recent years. Winter Storm Ajax hit Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming hard this past winter, which resulted in many claims being filed for homeowners insurance. Washingtonians turned to their homeowners insurance after the state experienced an extreme storm that covered Seattle in heavy snow—some areas experienced 119 MPH winds.
If there’s something to take away from these unfortunate incidents, it’s that there are no guarantees when it comes to weather. There are, however, ways that you can protect yourself against damage when faced with extreme conditions. First, winterize your home against wind, snow, ice, freezing rain, and extremely low temperatures. Second, make sure you have an adequate homeowners insurance policy that covers winter perils.
WINTERIZING YOUR HOME
There are some important steps to take both inside and outside your home before winter in order to reduce the potential for damage or injury:
- Take a look at your roof and replace old shingles to avoid water damage and loss of heat.
- If possible, insulate your attic space to maintain heat in the house and fortify the roof from snow build up.
- Remove the fall debris from your gutters so that melting snow has a clear path away from the building.
- Large trees can become a hazard when snow and ice weigh down their branches, so be sure to remove larger branches that could potentially break off and damage your home.
- Buy a snow shovel and ice salts to keep paths around the house clear to avoid injury liability.
A primary concern inside the house is your pipes. Check to make sure pipes are properly insulated. Cover exterior faucets and make sure pipes that will not be in use are emptied of liquid that can freeze. During particularly cold nights, consider running the water at a trickle to avoid freezing.
Of course, you will want to keep your house warm. Poor insulation and doors and windows that have not been winterized can make your heating bill skyrocket. Install thick window panels where possible, as well as foam tape and plastic sheeting over windows. If you have a wood stove, have a few weeks’ worth of dry wood in a secure and easily accessible spot. Make sure your chimneys are cleaned periodically to avoid creosote fires. Stock up on warm blankets, at least a week's worth of food, and candles or flashlights in case the power goes out.
TAKING INVENTORY AND SELECTING THE RIGHT INSURANCE
Sometimes no amount of preparation will prevent damage to your home during particularly harsh winters. You can still prepare for these situations by having good homeowners insurance. A homeowners policy generally covers damage due to fallen trees, roof collapse due to the accumulation of snow, wind damage during blizzards, and damage from frozen or burst pipes.
You will want to speak with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right package to cover all of your concerns. Neither you nor your insurance agent want any confusion about coverage after a disaster has already occurred. When damage does occur, make a claim as soon as possible. Document the damage with photos and personal notes to help the adjuster assess the situation. Take action to protect your home and property from further damage after a loss. It’s best to speak with an insurance adjuster before making major purchases for repair.
Because Grange covers communities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and California, we understand the need for coverage that meets the specific weather conditions of your home region. Meet with one of our agents to discuss a homeowners policy that meets your specific needs.