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Weathering the Storm: Tips for Insurance Claim Prevention During Winter  Thumbnail

Weathering the Storm: Tips for Insurance Claim Prevention During Winter

The top of 2024 has kicked off with a chilly start across America, and here in Portland, Oregon in the NW region, we have been hit by a hefty dose of winter recently. Even if you are used to snowstorms, heavy rains, and bitter cold, there are things you can do to prepare for or prevent a weather-related insurance claim. 

Almost one in 50 homes experiences water damage or damage caused by freezing every year - with the cost of repair averaging $12,514.1 Whether you’re experiencing unexpected trees falling and freezing temperatures in the Northwest, snow in the South, or thunderstorms in the Northeast, the danger of property damage is prevalent across the country.

As winter continues, remember these tips to stay safe and (hopefully) avoid a costly insurance claim. 

Tip #1: Avoid Side Roads

If you have to drive, avoid side roads that may contain long-lasting ice or snow. Side roads may be sheltered by the shade of homes or trees, making snow and ice last longer. Plus, snowplows tend to hit heavily used roads first - such as highways and main streets in cities and towns.

If you see an accumulation of water on the street, turn around or go around the water if it is safe to do so. Driving through a flooded area can cause serious damage to your vehicle and can be hazardous to your safety.

Tip #2: Put Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle

Some auto insurance companies will offer 24/7 roadside assistance as a part of your policy, which may come in handy during periods of inclement weather. If your vehicle becomes stranded in the snow, there are a couple of things you’ll want to have on hand as you await assistance. Emergency supplies can be kept in your trunk, and they may be used to keep you warm and nourished or help you get “unstuck” from the snow.

Some emergency supplies to consider keeping in your car include:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlight
  • Ice scraper
  • Foldable snow shovel
  • Snacks & bottled water
  • Battery-supplied phone charger
  • Cat litter or sand (used for gaining traction in snow and ice)
  • Flares
  • Warm Clothes and Boots
  • Bottled Water

Tip #3: Prepare Your Household for a Storm or Power Outage

  • Keep your medication and contacts/glasses handy. If you or someone you live with takes any medication or wears glasses/contacts make sure you keep the items readily available in case you need to leave.
  • Plan for a power outage. It is better to be prepared and not have an event than to NOT prepare. 
  • Check to make sure you have flashlights that work and batteries, candles, matches, or lighters nearby.
  • Gather together extra blankets, sleeping bags, and winter clothing (dress in layers).
  • If you have alternative sources of power such as a generator, move it close. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, bring the wood in so you don't have to go outside often.
  • Take steps to protect your pipes from bursting. Open cabinet doors, cover outdoor faucets, trickle your indoor faucets, and if your home has gone a long period without power, turn your water off.
  • Communicate with your family, friends, and co-workers. Let people know where you are, especially if you are staying somewhere new such as a hotel or friend's home. In addition, contact your family especially seniors to check on them.  
  • Take care of your pets. Some people have to leave their homes after a prolonged outage. If you can't take your pets with you, see if you can leave a pet with friends. If you have to leave your cats, leave them with extra food, litter, water, and bedding, and then ask a neighbor or friend to check on them. Do NOT leave pets outside.
  • If you have to seek other accommodations beware of public internet. If you are warming up a at coffee shop or staying at a hotel, think twice about using open Wi-Fi internet services. Don't risk getting your phone, email, social media, or financial accounts hacked. 
  • Stay away from downed trees and power lines on or near your property. If you see a downed tree, contact your local power company and first responders.

Tip #4: Watch for Cracks

If you have small cracks in your driveway, walkways, or sidewalks, you’ll want to keep an eye on them during winter - especially after heavy precipitation. Rain or snow (as it melts) can seep into small cracks in concrete or asphalt. As water freezes and turns to ice, it expands. If you’re experiencing below-freezing temperatures in your area, this could cause cracks to fill with water, freeze, and get bigger. Keeping your walkways shoveled and salted can make it easier to spot these issues before they become larger (more costly) problems down the line.

Tip #5: Shovel for Safety

Whether it’s a couple of inches or several feet, homeowners are responsible for keeping sidewalks and walkways clear on their property. States and regions have their regulations regarding snow removal, with some requiring that sidewalks be shoveled within several hours of the snow stopping. Neglecting to shovel and salt your property can be grounds for a lawsuit should serious injury result from someone slipping and falling on an icy area. The best way to avoid injury and a costly court case is to be aware of your city’s rules regarding snow removal and follow them accordingly.

Being prepared and responsible can help you get through the winter blues. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes, headaches, and potential injury. As you work to keep your vehicle and home weather-proof this winter, don’t forget to double-check your homeowner's insurance policy and auto policy to make any updates or adjustments you need to stay well-covered. Wishing you all a safe and warm winter season.

  1. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-homeowners-and-renters-insurance

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.