Are your prepared for a winter storm?  Of course, you have your wooly hat and mittens on standby for when the weather gets bad, but what about your home?

 While your ears may be covered, does your insurance cover what could happen to your property” In 2012, the Insurance Information Institute reports that winter storms caused $38 million in insured losses,

Here at Advocate Brokerage, we have weathered many storms over the past 45 years, and we know firsthand what you should do before the next big one hits and sends you reeling. Here are some guidelines from the Insurance Information Institute.

 Outside Your Home

 Take a look around the area outside of your home.  Is the swing set secured? How about the backyard barbecue?  Is the patio furniture put away? Anything that could become wind-borne needs to be tied down.  You don’t want a trash can to smash into the patio door because of high winds. Anything not secured down could become a projectile causing serious damage to your property, or other’s.

 Now is the time to clean out your gutters.  By removing leaves, sticks and other debris from gutter, melting snow, ice and freezing rains can flow freely. Beware of ice damming, a situation that develops when water is unable to drain through the gutters and seeps into the ceiling and walls of your home. What’s the best way to protect gutters?  Use gutter guards that prevent debris from clogging them up.

 What about the trees near your home?  Now is the time to trim them down.  A branch crashing down on your home or car could cause hundreds of dollars in damages. 

If there are broken steps or damaged handrails leading up to your home, repair them immediately before they become covered with snow and ice.

Use a caulking gun to firmly attach trusses to roof decking. Check all of your windows and remove summer screens. Make sure that there aren’t any loose shingles on your roof. If you have a skylight, caulk around it to prevent rain or snow from dripping into your home.

Inside Your Home

There is always a temptation to keep the temperature low inside your home to save on gas or oil bills.  This is a mistake.  Make sure to set the thermostat for at least 65 degrees as the temperature instead the walls will be lower. Keeping your home warm will prevent pipes from freezing. Consider having your heating system serviced annually to prevent fire and smoke damage.

To protect yourself from freezing pipes, install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. Know where the shut off valve is for your pipes if they freeze. This may prevent them from bursting. You might also consider adding a low temperature monitor.  Water damage is not pretty.

Install extra insulation to attics, basement and crawl spaces.  Heat escaping through the attic can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof.  This water then re-freezes causing a built up of ice which could be disastrous.  There is a danger that the roof would collapse.

Change the batteries in all the smoke alarms in your home every six months.  There is always an increase in residential fires in the winter. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector as well

If you are heading off the warmer climes this winter, make sure that you have someone check your home at least once a week and especially if there is a big storm.  If your stay will be lengthy, turn the water off and have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from bursting.

Review Your Insurance Coverage

 One of the lessons we learned from Sandy is that everyone should have flood insurance.  A heavy winter rain storm could lead to flooding, which is usually not covered under your standard homeowner’s insurance.

 Now is the time to sit down with your Advocate broker and review all your insurance coverage.  Don’t wait until you have to file a claim.

 While the hurricane season was mild, we aren’t out of the woods yet.  The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that we could be in for some nasty winter storms.  Your Advocate broker wants you inside – safe, warm and well-insured.

 One of the lessons we learned from Sandy is that everyone should have flood insurance.  A heavy winter rain storm could lead to flooding, which is usually not covered under your standard homeowner’s insurance.

 Now is the time to sit down with your Advocate broker and review all your insurance coverage.  Don’t wait until you have to file a claim.

 While the hurricane season was mild, we aren’t out of the woods yet.  The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that we could be in for some nasty winter storms.  Your Advocate broker wants you inside – safe, warm and well-insured.

Leave a comment