Top Winter Claims…and How to Avoid Them


Winter storms cause billions of dollars in damage to insureds. The truth is, cold winter weather affects homes differently than other seasons. Here are three of the most common homeowners claims and what you can do to prevent them this winter.

Ice dams

What is more picturesque than a house lined in sparkling icicles? While it may look pretty, ice can cause damage to your roof. Ice dams form when snow melts as heat escapes through the top of the roof. As the water drips down, it refreezes around the roof edge causing a buildup of ice that can lead to loose shingles, broken gutters, sagging ceilings, water backup and mildew.

Consider these tips for preventing ice dams:

  • Clear your gutters so melted snow can fully drain.
  • Use a snow rake to remove excess snow from your roof.
  • Install heat cables in areas ice dams regularly occur.
  • Hire professionals to make sure your attic has proper ventilation and insulation.

Frozen pipes

One in 50 insured homes file a claim due to water damage and freezing each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Pipes in your home can freeze and then burst from built up pressure. Water will continue to flow through burst pipes until the water is shut off. This can cause large amounts of water damage.

Take preventative measures this winter to avoid frozen pipes.

  • Insulate pipes
  • Close garage doors
  • Know the location of your water shutoff valve
  • Open cabinets: This will allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Run faucets: Running water slowly through the system can prevent freezing.

House fires

Heating equipment is a leading cause of fire—to the tune of one out of seven home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. Whether you prefer a fireplace or a space heater to heat your home during the winter, take safety precautions to prevent fires during extended use.

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from walls and all other items.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave or go to bed.
  • Perform annual maintenance on gas fireplaces: Have it professionally inspected for gas leaks, clean the fireplace vent, check the pilot light, clean any artificial logs or rocks and inspect any glass coverings for cracks or chips.
  • Place a screen in front of wood burning fireplaces, and place ashes in a metal container.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended.

This winter season, enjoy spending time with your loved ones. Avoid damage and the need to file a homeowners claim by using these preventative tips.

For assistance with all your homeowners coverage needs,contact an insurance professional at Westwood Insurance Agency today.