Winter’s Coming…What To Do?
No matter how many times we hear “that’s weather in New England,” a tropical storm on an astronomical tide or the first severe snowstorm of the winter makes even the most seasoned yearn for warmer and gentler climates. While storms come and go, it’s a good idea to ensure your home and insurance coverage are in order to keep risks low and peace of mind high.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can threaten all homeowners, especially those along the coastline. Effects may include flooding from the surf or rising rivers and streams.
The US Government runs the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is why most standard home and property insurance policies typically do not cover flooding. In addition, you may consider adding water backup insurance, as the NFIP and most homeowner’s policies do not cover water from sewer or drain backups or sump pump overflows.
Winter storms and blizzards also bring strong winds. Prepare your home now by securing and sealing roofs, soffits, shingles and windows. Use caulk to seal cracks and openings where pipes enter the house.
These steps will also make your home more energy efficient. Other concerns cold weather and snow bring are roof damage caused by ice dams that can leak to home interiors upon melting or rainfall, causing a range of problems from cosmetic to mold. And don’t forget, Massachusetts property owners can now be held responsible to injured persons for failing to remove snow and ice, so plan to keep those walkways clear.
Preparing for power outages is also important in reducing insurance risks. Test battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors often. Keep an appliance thermometer in the freezer: if the temperature reads 40°F or colder, food is safe to consume. If a power outage does occur, turn off all appliances, computers and other home electronics to protect from power surges that can damage internal mechanisms when the power returns. Use flashlights rather than candles for lighting to prevent fires during an outage. While you do everything you can to prevent damage to your home, proper protection is necessary.
Ideally, your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover the replacement cost of your home, loss or damage to personal property, personal liability, and medical expenses in the case of a lawsuit filed by someone injured while on your property. Inventory all household possessions and keep the list and photos in a secure off site location, like a bank safe deposit box, should you need to make an insurance claim. Finally, as your needs change, contact an insurance agent to ensure coverage and deductibles are right for your current situation.