Boston area home insurance claims – especially during the winter – can be expensive. And, whether you live in a colder climate or a warmer winter one, damages caused by a number of perils can put a damper on things. Let’s look at a few winter – and some all-season – claims and how you can best reduce the risk of them happening to you and your home.
Common Claims (and the Most Expensive)
Once again, it may affect some regions of the country more than others, but damage is damage, no matter where you live. Weather is a leading contributor to a number of Boston area home insurance claims. Frozen precipitation – or an abundance of rain, frozen or not – and extremely low temperatures are often responsible for a variety of potential home damage. The insurance industry listed a recent top five list of the most-often claims based on analysis of claims data (and all of them are not necessarily restricted to winter weather):
Water leaks (and flooding)
Roof damage from too much snow and ice
The claims analysis went on to rank the top three most expensive weather claims based on the average cost to repair covered assets:
Frozen pipes – $18,000
Hail damage – $10,000
Falling trees – $6,000
Historically, year after year, these and other Boston area home insurance claims total billions in insurance losses. The insurance industry estimates losses of more than $3.5 billion in 2015 and $2.6 billion the year prior to that.
Preventing Common Perils
Of course, perils such as wind and hail damage are difficult to prevent – but not completely impossible to minimize. Consider these defensive measures to prepare for the unexpected – whether it’s in the winter or not.
• Inspect your roof and keep it in tiptop shape. Keep your gutters clean. Replace worn or missing shingles. By doing so, you can guard against potential water leaks. And water leaks can lead to a whole host of other claims issues.
• If you have an abnormal accumulation of snow and ice on your home’s roof, act quickly by using a long-handled snow rake or hire the services of a business specializing in snow removal. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Fortunately, in most areas of the country, this has not been an issue this year, as most of the country has experienced an unusually mild winter.
• Protect your water pipes. Frozen pipes – or old, damaged pipes – can cause expensive repairs. In extreme cold climates, keep your thermostat set at a minimum of 68 degrees. In addition, allow your faucets to drip slowly so the water can move through them without freezing. Lastly, make sure any water pipes located outside are properly insulated. For homes in warmer climates who rarely, if ever, have to worry about winter weather issues, ensure your pipes are sturdy, free of rust and unobstructed. Remember, old pipes can break, too.
• Make sure your trees are in good shape. Strong winds, ice and sleet often cause tree branches, and even the tree itself, to come falling to the ground – and perhaps on your house. So keep the limbs near your house trimmed back. Insurance experts further recommend to have an arborist inspect trees that may require pruning, may have diseases, or potentially may need to be removed altogether. Again, remember, such perils are not only restricted to areas of the country that have harsh winters. Many tree branches can be broken off by high winds – and entire trees can fall as a result of the ground becoming too saturated with rain or flood waters.
Protect Against Liability Claims
Another of the Boston area home insurance claims to be on the lookout for – and to avoid, if possible – are the common slip-and-fall lawsuits and resulting claims. Many of these such incidents occur in the winter, but of course, guests visiting your home can trip and fall anytime during the year, not just during the winter months.
Thankfully, most homeowners are covered against slip-and-fall lawsuits under their liability coverage in a standard home insurance policy. In addition, according to some legal analysts, slip-and-fall cases due to the accumulation of snow and ice on a homeowner’s driveway, sidewalk or porch are difficult to win – particularly in cold-climate states where judges and juries view those perils as known and accepted weather-related hazards.
Regardless of the advantages mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to be as prepared and proactive as possible when it comes to eliminating or lessening the potential for any slip-and-fall accident. We suggest keeping your driveway, sidewalk and other areas that you or guests may walk on free from snow and ice in the winter – or other debris or hazards during other times of the year or in other climates – in order to make it safer for all concerned.
Remember, Boston area insurance claims can be expensive – whether they occur in the winter or not. So, be vigilant, be prepared and be ready to address potential hazards around your house that could lead to damages or personal injuries causing you or your insurance company substantial losses – and greater headaches!
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