Insurance Insights

Winter Weather  Tips  and Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

By Justin Staebler | Johnson Financial Group

4 minute read time

If you own a home or plan to soon become a homeowner, preparing for winter and winter storms is important – especially in the Midwest. To ensure you are adequately prepared in the event of winter storm damage, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common winter-related coverage questions. Learn how you can avoid damage and determine whether you are covered under your current home insurance policy.  

Are frozen pipes covered? 

Water damage from freezing pipes can be one of the most significant sources of home damage. Typically, the repair of the broken pipe is only one issue that needs to be fixed. A pipe that freezes and bursts can also lead to substantial water damage and mold issues. This kind of loss is generally covered by your homeowners insurance coverage. However, because this may be a preventable problem, you could be responsible for the repairs if your insurer concludes your negligence caused the damage. 

Here are tips to help reduce your frozen pipe risk: 

  • Insulate pipes located in unheated spaces like basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages.
  • Apply pipe sleeves or heat tape to the most vulnerable pipes.
  • Keep your home warm by setting the thermostat at 65° F or higher.
  • Leave garage doors closed. 
  • During extremely cold temperatures, let cold water drip from the faucet.

It's a good idea to learn where your water shut off is located so you can minimize damage if your pipes freeze, despite your best efforts.

Are snow and ice damage covered? 

Heavy snow accumulations and ice can damage gutters, roofs, decks and result in downed trees. Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by snow and ice.  However, if ice forms on your gutters and prevents runoff from draining properly, it can cause water to build up and seep into your home. Damages resulting from water seeping into your home may not be covered. 

To prevent ice dams, you can minimize snow melt on your roof by following these steps: 

  • Insulate adequately so your home's heat doesn't escape through the ceiling.
  • Seal any gaps that let warm air leak from the house into the attic.
  • Make sure your attic is ventilated to allow cold air from outside to enter that space. Higher temperatures in the attic can cause snow on the roof to melt. When the melting water contacts the cold eaves, it refreezes, forming a dam.

Heavy ice or snow may also cause trees or tree limbs to fall on your home. This damage is also covered under your homeowners insurance policy. However, if the insurer discovers the tree was dead and should have previously been removed, they may deny the claim. 

Are slips and falls at my home covered? 

If you’ve ever slipped on an icy sidewalk, you know how painful the landing can be. If someone visiting your home is injured from a slip or fall, the standard home insurance policy should cover their medical expenses up to your coverage limits, under the medical payments portion of the policy. These coverage limits typically run between $1,000 and $5,000.  If the expenses from the injuries exceed what your insurance will pay out under medical payment coverage, it increases the potential for a lawsuit. In the event you are sued, your homeowners insurance policy will cover you, typically up to the liability portion of your policy. We also recommend an Umbrella policy which provides coverage beyond your homeowners policy, adding an extra layer of security to protect your financial future. As a reminder, you should keep your sidewalks, patios, porches and outdoor steps clear of snow and ice during the winter. 

Our experienced advisors and claim advocates are here to help with your unique needs, such as:

  • Ensuring you have adequate coverage
  • Preparing for winter storm damage
  • Being your advocate during the claims process

To get in touch, contact your Personal Insurance team at 888.769.3796 or personalinsurance@johnsonfinancialgroup.com.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Staebler

Justin Staebler

VP Personal Lines Insurance Sales Manager | Johnson Financial Group

As Personal Insurance Sales Manager, Justin is responsible for the team of Personal Insurance agents who provide home, auto and umbrella insurance solutions. He and his team are dedicated to helping individuals manage risk and protect their assets.