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Proactive Tips to Avoid Winter Claims

Posted in Claims

Author: Cheryl Gleason

Whether you’ve bundled up trying to stay warm or you’re enjoying the winter months soaking up the sun, it’s crucial to be aware of the problems winter weather can cause to your home. Most winter-related claims are preventable with proper home maintenance and preparation. I’ve rounded up the most common culprits for winter home insurance claims and shared tips on how homeowners can prevent them.

Space Heaters

Fire Departments recommend space heater users never plug a heater into a power strip. These units are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow. 

Fireplaces & Woodstoves

Before snuggling up in front of your warm fireplace, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, make sure to have your chimney and the flue cleaned yearly. A dirty chimney can cause chimney fires, which damages structures, destroys homes, and can injure/kill people. 


The leading cause of house fire is the failure to clean and maintain the furnace properly. Here are some excellent tips to ensure proper maintenance: 

  1.     Inspect the furnace before the first ignition 
  2.     If gas, locate and learn how to shut off the main gas valve
  3.     Check your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector
  4.     Keep a fire extinguisher on hand
  5.     Clean your furnace room 
  6.     Change your filter monthly

Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. These simple tips can prevent pipes from freezing:

  1.     Keep the heat on and set to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  2.     During extreme temperatures, allow the faucet to drip
  3.     Keep interior doors open
  4.     Seal up cracks and holes
  5.     Apply heating tape
  6.     Add extra insulation
  7.     Keep garage doors closed especially if there are water supply lines in the garage
Ice Dams Prevention

One of the most common issues that homeowners face in the winter is ice dams on their roofs, causing significant damage inside and outside the home. The good news is with proper preparation; damage is preventable. Here are some tips:

  1.  Ventilate eaves & ridge
  2. Cap the hatch – an unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a massive opening for heat to escape 
  3. Exhaust to the outside
  4. Add extra insulation
  5. Install sealed can lights 
  6. Add flash around chimneys
  7. Seal and insulate ducts 
  8. Caulk penetrations
I should also note that structural household factors can affect a homeowner’s policy. More than likely your underwriter will pay closer attention to factors such as the shape and age of the roof if there is a wood stove, coal stove, and/or fireplace in addition to making sure there is no knob and tube electrical wiring in the home. 

Winter temperatures can be brutal, but following these tips can help prevent loss and allow you to enjoy this beautiful time of the year whether from the comfort of your fireplace or out in the snow! Have more questions about home insurance? Contact our Personal Lines department.

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