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How to Prevent The Most Common Winter Home Insurance Claims

Posted Nov 17th, 2023 in Did You Know?, General, Home Insurance, HOMEINSURANCE, In the News, Insurance Tips, Media

In Ontario, Canada, the winter season brings specific challenges that if not managed properly, can lead to home insurance claims. In this blog, we'll explore these winter-specific issues and provide practical insights on how to prevent them. From frozen pipes to roof damage and everything in between, discover proactive measures to safeguard your home against the chilly hazards of winter, ensuring a season of warmth without the worry of insurance claims.

Frozen Pipes and Water Damage

Subfreezing temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst, resulting in significant water damage to homes. The water damage may affect walls, ceilings, floors, and personal belongings. Claims for burst pipes are common during extremely cold periods.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes and Water Damage

Ontario homeowners can help to prevent frozen pipes and water damage by insulating pipes in unheated areas, sealing air leaks, maintaining adequate heating, allowing faucets to drip during cold spells, disconnecting and draining outdoor hoses, insulating exterior walls, and keeping cabinet doors open. Additionally, they should install pipe heating cables, close garage doors, prepare for vacations by shutting off the main water supply, insulate the attic, and consider a temperature monitoring system to address issues promptly. Water damage is the #1 cause of home insurance claims in Ontario. To learn more about how to protect your home from water damage, click here

Ice Dam Formation

Ice dams occur when snow on the roof melts and refreezes at the edges, forming a barrier that prevents proper drainage. This can lead to water seeping into the home, causing damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation. Claims related to ice dam formation are common during fluctuating winter temperatures.

How to Prevent Damage From Ice Dam Formation

Ontario homeowners can prevent insurance claims related to ice dam formations by ensuring proper attic insulation and ventilation to maintain a consistent roof temperature, cleaning gutters and downspouts regularly to allow proper water drainage, and installing heat cables or ice melting systems to prevent ice dams from forming on the roof edges. Timely and proactive measures can mitigate the risk of water damage and the need for home insurance claims associated with ice dams.

Roof Collapse or Damage

Heavy snow accumulation on roofs can lead to structural damage or, in extreme cases, collapse. This risk is particularly high in regions with heavy and consistent snowfall. Homeowners may file claims for roof repairs or replacements due to the weight of snow and ice.  

How to Prevent Roof Collapse or Damage

Homeowners can prevent insurance claims from roof collapse or damage by conducting regular roof inspections, promptly repairing any loose or damaged shingles, ensuring proper attic insulation and ventilation to prevent ice dams, and removing accumulated snow to reduce the risk of overloading. Additionally, trimming overhanging branches and seeking professional assessments of the roof's structural integrity can contribute to preventing potential issues and the need for insurance claims related to roof damage or collapse.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Icy sidewalks, driveways, and steps increase the risk of slip-and-fall accidents on residential properties. Homeowners may face liability claims if someone is injured on their property due to inadequate snow and ice removal. Liability coverage is essential to protect against such claims.

How to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents

Homeowners can help to prevent insurance claims from slip and fall accidents by keeping walkways and driveways clear of ice and snow, promptly salting or sanding slippery surfaces, and ensuring proper lighting in outdoor areas. Regular maintenance, such as repairing uneven surfaces and promptly addressing any hazardous conditions, can significantly reduce the risk of slip and fall incidents, helping homeowners avoid potential insurance claims related to injuries on their property.  At Youngs Insurance Brokers we recommend that our clients carry a minimum of a $2 million liability limit on their home insurance policy. Click here to learn why.

Power Outages

Winter storms, including ice storms and heavy snowfall, can lead to power outages. Homeowners may file claims for spoiled food, damage to electronic appliances, and other losses resulting from power disruptions. Some policies may cover additional living expenses if the home becomes uninhabitable.

How to Prevent  Power Outages

Homeowners can prevent insurance claims from power outages by installing a backup power generator, surge protectors, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for essential appliances.

Tree and Limb Damage

Ice accumulation or heavy snowfall can weigh down trees and limbs, leading to breakage and potential damage to homes, vehicles, or other structures. Claims related to fallen trees or limbs damaging property are common during winter storms.

How to Prevent Tree and Limb Damage

Regular tree maintenance to prevent falling branches on power lines and participation in local utility programs for outage notifications can help homeowners minimize potential damages and insurance claims resulting from power interruptions.

Chimney Fires

Chimney fires can be caused by the buildup of creosote, a highly combustible substance, on the interior walls of a chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood, and when it accumulates over time, it can ignite and result in a chimney fire.

How to Prevent Chimney Fires

To prevent chimney fires, it's essential to have regular chimney inspections and cleanings, burn only seasoned and dry wood, and ensure proper ventilation and airflow. Using a spark arrestor at the top of the chimney can also help prevent sparks from escaping and igniting nearby materials. Regular maintenance and adherence to safe burning practices are crucial for reducing the risk of chimney fires and ensuring the safety of your home.

To mitigate the risk of these common winter-related claims, Ontario homeowners should take preventive measures, such as proper insulation and maintenance of pipes, roof inspections, regular snow and ice removal, and ensuring that heating systems are in good working order. Additionally, having comprehensive home insurance coverage that includes protection against winter-related risks is crucial for financial security during the colder months, due to increased risks associated with cold weather. Comprehensive coverage ensures financial protection against a broad range of risks, including damage to the home's interior and exterior, personal belongings, and liability for accidents on the property. This safeguards homeowners from the financial burden of unexpected winter-related incidents, offering peace of mind and security in the face of seasonal challenges.

Home insurance policies vary in the types of coverage they offer and the perils they protect against. Homeowners need to engage in open communication with their insurance broker to fully understand the specifics of their policy. Different policies may provide coverage for various incidents, such as fire, theft, natural disasters, or liability claims, but the extent of coverage can differ significantly. It is crucial to be aware of what your policy will and will not cover, as assumptions can lead to gaps in protection. By consulting with an insurance broker, homeowners can gain clarity on the nuances of their coverage, ensuring that they are adequately protected against potential risks and uncertainties specific to their property and location.

To help ensure you are adequately covered in case of a home insurance claim, reach out to one of our brokers. They will assess your home insurance policy to ensure the presence of appropriate coverage or determine if any policy enhancements are necessary.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.

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