Michigan winters can be summed up in a few words. Long. Cold and Gray. As an insurance agent, another word that comes to mind is expensive. Other than heating cost, winter storms can add up to extensive damage and can be extremely frustrating. We thought we would offer a few tips to help reduce the chances of common winter-time damage at your home;
- Get the snow off the roof! The weight of ice and snow can be extremely problematic (as well as dangerous). Not only can the weight actually cause structural damage to your home, but the snow build up can be dangerous as it melts and falls off the house. Do NOT climb on the roof. Either hire (an insured) contractor or use a long-handled snow rake to clear the snow. As well, ice hanging from the gutters can be deadly if not addressed. Kids often times do not realize the risks associated with “breaking off” the ice.
- Look at increasing insulation in areas of your home that tend to create ice dams (year after year). Usually this means that heat is escaping somewhere nearby and is causing snow to melt- which then runs down and refreezes around your gutters. This process repeats itself over the course of the winter causing a “pool” of water which can back up under your shingles and cause extensive damage in the spring.
- Address the insulation of pipes that seem to regularly freeze when it gets extremely cold. The repeat freeze and thaw of a copper pipe will damage the structural integrity of the pipe over time. You will end up with small/medium leaks which can often go undetected for long periods of time (causing major damage and claim problems). You can wrap exposed pipes with special insulation to reduce freezing risk. You can also pay to have insulation “blown in” behind showers, tubs and other areas that are not easily accessible.
- Shovel and salt! Make sure your driveway and sidewalks are cleared of ice and snow and are salted. Neglecting to clear known walkways of ice and snow can increase your risk of a liability claim. Most importantly, it’s likely your own family (spouse and/or kids) who would be spared from a slip and fall by properly maintaining your driveway and walks.
These are just a few ideas you can use to help make your home safer (with the added benefit of reducing your energy cost). As well, making the investment to reduce the chances of filing an insurance claim does save money in the long run. Claim free discounts can range from 10% to 40%. This discount represents a good reason to reduce known risk whenever possible.