Freezing temperatures may wreak havoc on your home, leading to interruptions in water flow or pipe bursts.
What is covered under your homeowner policy, and how can you file the claim?
This winter has brought unseasonably cold temperatures to New England. The extended period of arctic air has lead to weeks of near zero temperatures. This has resulted in battles with freezing conduits and water leaks due to bursting pipes for many homeowners. If you are among them, you may wonder what is covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy.
In general, most damage caused by frozen pipes should be covered under your policy. Not all policies are created equal, however, so you should converse with your agent. Some policies may include stipulations around minimum temperature requirements, or even insist upon thermostat alarm systems which notify homeowners when temps are too low for safe keeping of pipes and supply lines. Be sure you understand the guidelines of your policy before filing a claim.
Moving forward with your claim, you should be aware that some items may not be covered, even if your claim is approved. While insurance may cover the costs of damages or remediation, the expenses associated with new pipes or fittings may not be covered. The cost of the plumber’s time or contracted labor may also be excluded. Remember, your carrier is only obligated to cover reasonable and necessary expenses due to clean-up. This means homeowners should be aware of independent contractors providing inflated pricing for remediation and clean-up or repair services. Don’t get caught off guard by signing a service contract that will not fall within the coverages provided through your insurance carrier.
We are lucky enough to be enjoying a warmer trend in the temperatures this week. Still, it’s important to know how to protect your pipes from freezing. Insulating outside walls, or applying insulated pipe wraps to exposed pipes in unheated areas of your home can have a profound impact. Also, be sure that any pickets or water supplies outside of the house are well-drain prior to plunging temps. Here is a list of items for review to help keep your pipes in good working order all winter long:
- Clean your gutters so melting snow and ice can stream freely
- Turn on your faucets and allow them to drip slowly. Moving water will prevent freezing.
- Heat your house to a minimum of 60 degrees in the winter; lower to a minimum of 55 degrees when you will be absent for extended periods of time.
- Open cabinet doors below kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warm air to circulate.
- Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
- Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (In case of emergency.)
- Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape.
- Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures with wind drafts causes pipes to freeze more frequently.
- Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows, and/or insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
- If you plan to be away from home for an extended period, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine
More from the Red Cross on how to deal with freezing pipes.
While frozen pipes, and the damage they cause, may be the most common winter problem for homeowners, it is not the only thing can cause damage. High winds, sudden hail storms and ice dams on roofs are also common winter problems. For more information on these household extreme weather incidents click here.
For the most current information regarding your current policy and the type of incidents included in your coverage we recommend speaking to your personal agent. If you would like a free policy review, or help establishing a claim please contact our office at 603.437.1992 for our Londonderry, NH office or 603.296.0077 for our Hampton, NH office. We are always available through our website, www.brownellinsurance.com