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Winter can be beautiful and dangerous

November 24, 2014

It is looking like 2014's winter is going to be as bad as last year's, which means heavy snow, freezing temperatures and harsh, cold winds. It also means home damages and accidents are definitely a possibility. In fact, Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, said insurance data is an easy way to track how cold it was in previous years and explained what that means for this year.

Snow is beautiful but can be dangerous.

“Severe winter weather is the third-largest cause of insured catastrophe losses, after hurricanes and tornadoes,” Hartwig said. “Losses from snow, ice, freezing and related causes averaged $1.2 billion annually over the past 20 years. This year, insured losses from severe winter events will be at least double that amount, likely exceeding $2.5 billion by year's end, making 2014 the fourth-costliest year on record for winter storm losses.”

What does this mean for those with home insurance? It means be glad you have it and make sure it is up to standard with the aggressive weather. And while your home insurance will cover your financials, a home problem is still an inconvenience and difficult to manage. Instead of relying on just your insurance to take care of you in the long run, take some initiative and make preparations to keep your home safe this winter.

Check your home insurance policy

Sure, you have an insurance policy in place to protect your home, but is it enough? There are many things that can go wrong in winter, so you want to make sure you have all avenues for a potential disaster covered. Is your roof protected from ice damming or collapsing from heavy snow? Is flooding in your policy for when all the snow begins to melt? The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants noted there are many different options for home insurance coverage plans, so verify yours is suitable for the weather.

Check your home

In addition to making sure your coverage is up to par, you need to check your home's condition. Clean your gutters so that snow and ice don't get trapped in them and cause damaging backups. If there are large tree branches that hang over your house or above your garage, have them checked. If they can't handle heavy snow or freezing and could potentially break, you should think about having them cut.

Know where your potential threats are and check their condition. That also means keeping up with maintenance throughout the winter. Pipes can freeze even if you are in your home and the heat is on. If temperatures are supposed to drop significantly on a particular night, then let your faucets steadily drip during the night. If you have pipes that aren't insulated, now is good time to have that done.

You know your home better than anyone, so you have a head start in identifying problematic areas. Tend to these issues before the ice does.

The winter months can be a beautiful time, especially when admiring that first falling snow. But don't forget to be safe. Make sure your insurance is up to its full protection and keep your home in working order.