When Temperatures Drop, Insurance Risk Rises

When Temperatures Drop, Insurance Risk Rises

As an insurance provider, it’s important to realize that, in most parts of the U.S., levels of insurance risk change with the changing of the seasons. One might assume that the riskiest time of year to be out driving on the highways is winter because of the inclement weather and harsh driving conditions. Insurers know, however, the riskiest season for driving is summertime. This is because of the greater number of vehicles on the road and the fact that so many motor homes, trailers, boats, and other vehicles are being trailered out there.

Highest Insurance Risk Season for Home Insurers

For home insurers, the winter season can be an extremely busy time of year for policyholder claims. When assisting your clients in ways of maintaining safer homes, thereby reducing the number of wintertime problems leading to claims, here are some tips to pass on:

Protect Your Pipes

Cold weather can cause big trouble to homes and steps should be taken before the damage can occur. One problem area can be frozen pipes, which can happen when temperatures outside drop into the twenties and below. Water freezing inside a pipe can cause the pipe to burst, resulting in extensive water damage to a home, including mold in drywall, floors, and appliances.

Several things can be done to prevent water from freezing inside pipes. A slow drip in both hot and cold water faucets can prevent water pipes inside a house from freezing and relieve pressure within the pipes. Exposed pipes in unheated areas like garages and crawl spaces should be insulated and doors to cabinets beneath sinks should be left open so heat can get in and circulate.

Water Monitoring or Leak Detection Technology

This can be used to detect even small leaks before they turn into something more serious.

Inspect Chimneys and Heating Appliances

A chimney and/or heating system should be checked and proper maintenance undertaken before the first fire of the season is lit. These inspections are best accomplished annually and should be done before winter cold hits. For those using portable space heaters, these appliances should not be operated within three or fewer feet from anything combustible. They should also not be left on while unattended and, if used with an extension cord, should be used with a cord capable of safely handling the energy space heaters utilize.

Keep Gutter Systems Free of Accumulations

Allowing water to flow freely from the roof down to ground level makes the development of harmful ice dams much less likely. Other maintenance homeowners should be conscious of to protect a home’s roof includes trimming heavy tree branches that pose a risk when covered with ice or snow or when damaged in winter storms.

Keep Outside Walkways and Driveways Safe

Since liability protection is part of a homeowners’ policy, you can help clients keep outside surfaces like porches, steps, walkways, and driveways safe in freezing weather by stressing the need to keep them ice-free, thereby protecting people and animals when walking on them. While spreading rock salt is a common solution to the problem, a no-salt natural deicer can be made easily and inexpensively.

Home Weatherproofing

Your homeowner policyholders should know to not only seal all doors and windows to prevent heated air from escaping, thereby adding comfort and energy savings, but to also protect the attic area from warm air escaping. Since warm air rises, any warmth escaping from the attic via openings through the roof can cause snow and ice to melt and then refreeze. This may cause a heavy ice buildup and destructive ice dams.

Keep Indoor Temperature Consistent

If they’re planning to be away from home for any extended period of time, clients should know to prevent any freezing indoors by consistently keeping the indoor temperature between 55°F and 65°F.

Special Holiday Time Insurance Risks

Wintertime brings not only cold weather that increases home insurance risks but holiday celebrations that in themselves can be inherently risky. From November through to early January, there’s an extra amount of cooking being done, lots of drinking going on in some homes, and other risky behaviors such as candle burning and the use of inexpensive light strings lit for decoration.

Those using live Christmas trees during the holidays need to remember to keep their trees safe by regularly checking the water and keeping the trees hydrated. Christmas tree lights should be in good shape (check visually) and unplugged at bedtime.

Home inspections can help inform you as to your policyholders’ attention to detail in mitigating home safety risks. Insurance Risk Services is an excellent choice of insurance inspection companies that will work with your underwriting department to help reduce home insurance risks. Their goal is to help your clients become less risky, thereby having fewer claims. See what they have to offer.