“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
If only winter’s wrath stopped at slick sidewalks, frosted windshields and shoveling the driveway.
Last year winter-caused insurance catastrophes put a $2.3 billion hurt on American home, auto and business owners according to the Insurance Information Institute. That migraine-enducing and checkbook-numbing number more than doubled the damage caused by the winter of 2013.
The I.I.I. reports severe winter weather caused 15 percent of all insured auto, home and businesses losses in 2014. The financial damage felt in snow-weary Boston, which was buried by a record 110 inches of snow last winter, is still being counted.
“Losses from snow, ice, freezing and cold related causes totaled $2.3 billion least year, after averaging about $1.2 billion annually over the previous 20 years,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, an economist and president of the I.I.I. “Insured losses caused by winter weather were $1.9 billion in 2013 so the last two years have been well above what the insurance industry has traditionally seen from this type of severe weather.”
As the most miserable weather time of the year bears down on the Midwest United States, it’s never too early for home and business owners to design and put up a strong defense shield to protect them from winter’s fury. Unready home owners were blindsided by the Polar Vortex that gripped the U.S. In January 2014 and resulted in $1.7 billion in insured losses.
While most meteorologists believe the return of El Nino should bring a less snowier winter to the Midwest, home owners should take the upmost precaution in preparing their home for the most grueling weather months of the year. For winter’s wrath can be unpredictable and unrelenting, just ask the people of Boston.
Here’s a rundown of financial safety steps every home owner should take before winter storms in:
- Check The Fine Print Of Your Home Or Business Insurance Policy.Before winter arrives, know what your homeowner and business owner policy does and doesn’t cover, and check in with local insurance agent about what threats you may need to add to your policy. The good news: Most homeowner and business owner policies cover a vast range of winter storm damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain. Burst pipes, ice dams, leaky roofs and building collapse caused by ice or snow are standard covered items in most policies. But home and business owners must make certain their coverage limits are enough to cover repairs, or in the worst case scenario, a rebuild, in the current market.
- Fireproof Your American Dream. It’s easy and natural to focus on snow as the No. 1 threat to your home during winter, but the U.S. Fire Association estimates heating fires make up 36 percent of residential home fires each year. Schedule an annual chimney or wood stove inspection and cleaning, clean your home of debris, decorations and flammable materials, burn only seasoned hardwood to prevent accelerated creosote buildup and cover your chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
- Before the season’s first snowstorm, know or learn how to shut off your water, inspect your pipes for leaks and cracks and immediately repair any damage.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of your roof in the event of heavy snow accumulation and ask for tips on how to keep your roof clear of heavy snow.
- Remember, warm air is snow’s kryptonite. Keep your home warm to prevent damage from melting snow and future storms. Home temperatures should be at least 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. Also, have your heating system cleaned and inspected.
Have A Smart Home Snow Protection Plan
Winter’s fury can cause a long-lasting financial blizzard for unprepared home and business owners. But knowing your home and business is covered and ready before Old Man Winter throws his first punch of the season can help you dig out fast of any storm or blizzard winter tries to bury your home or business in.
Image credit: oregonchimneyguys.com