4 Tips to Avoid an Insurance Claim This Winter
If you're like many Americans, you've been hit by a hefty dose of winter recently. Even if you're used to snowstorms, heavy rains, and bitter cold, there are a few things you can do now to prepare for or prevent a weather-related insurance claim.
About 1.6 percent of homes experience damage from water or freezing every year, with the cost of repair averaging $11,650.1 Whether you're experiencing unexpected snow in the South or thunderstorms in the Northeast, the danger of water damage is prevalent across the country.
As winter continues on, keep these four tips in mind to stay safe and (hopefully) avoid a costly insurance claim.
Tip #1: Avoid Side Roads
If you have to drive, you should avoid side roads that may contain long-lasting ice or snow. Side roads may be sheltered by the shade of homes or trees, making snow and ice last longer. Plus, snow plows tend to heavily hit the most used roads first, such as highways and main streets in cities and towns.
If you see an accumulation of water on the street, you should turn around or drive around the water if it is safe to do so. Driving through a flooded area can cause serious damage to your vehicle and can be hazardous to your safety.
Tip #2: Put Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle
Some auto insurance companies will offer 24/7 roadside assistance as a part of your policy, which may come in handy during periods of inclement weather. If your vehicle becomes stranded in the snow, there are a couple of things you'll want to have on hand as you await assistance.
Emergency supplies can be kept in your trunk, and they may be used to keep you warm and nourished, or help you get "unstuck" from the snow.
Some emergency supplies to consider keeping in your car include:
- Ice scraper
- Foldable snow shovel
- Snacks and bottled water
- Battery-supplied phone charger
- Cat litter or sand (used for gaining traction on snow and ice)
Tip #3: Watch for Cracks
If you have small cracks in your driveway, walkways, or sidewalks, you'll want to keep an eye on them during winter—especially after heavy precipitation. Rain or snow (as it melts) can seep into small cracks in concrete or asphalt. As water freezes and turns to ice, it expands. If you're experiencing below-freezing temperatures in your area, this could cause cracks to fill with water, freeze, and get bigger. Keeping your walkways shoveled and salted can make it easier to spot these issues before they become larger (more costly) problems down the line.
Tip #4: Shovel for Safety
Whether it's a couple of inches or several feet, homeowners are generally responsible for keeping sidewalks and walkways clear on their property. States and regions have their own regulations regarding snow removal, so you'll want to become familiar with your local regulations.
Being prepared and responsible can help you get through the winter blues. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes, headaches, and potential injuries. As you work to weatherproof your vehicle and home this winter, don't forget to double-check your homeowner’s insurance and auto policies and make any updates or adjustments you need to stay well covered.
1. III.org, 2022
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