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Batten Down the Hatches: How to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather

Snowflakes and icicles dust and drip from rooftops throughout the country, especially after Winter Storm Jonas rolled through the eastern U.S., producing more than a foot of snow in 14 states, according to the Weather Channel. But winter is far from over. You’ve prepared for the season by pulling your warmest garments to the front of your closet, but have you gotten your home ready? According to Property Claim Services, winter storms cost more than $1 billion per year in insured losses.

You may not know what Mother Nature has in store for the rest of the season, but you can take steps to winterize your home and prepare for the unexpected.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Freezing rain or fluctuating temperatures can cause snow to melt and then refreeze, making  driveways and walkways around your home hazardous. Keep these areas free of snow by shoveling and using salt or kitty litter to help prevent slip-and-fall incidents. If guests do slip, fall and are injured on your property, you may be liable for medical expenses. Speak with your agent to make sure your policy has plenty of liability coverage to protect you from out-of-pocket expenses.

Take a Little Off the Top

Trim any dead or damaged branches on the trees in your yard. With snow piling on top of said branches, they may not be able to withstand the weight, causing them to snap, fall and either injure someone or damage your home or car.

Show Your Pipes Some TLC

In the winter, pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting. Though this type of water damage can be covered by your insurance policy, claims are often costly. According to the Insurance Information Institute, burst pipes account for about 22% of home insurance claims and average $4,024 per claim.

To prevent becoming a statistic, insulate your pipes. It’s also a best practice to keep your thermostat at 65 degrees or above, let warm water drip from your faucets and open cabinets to keep pipes toasty when temperatures dwindle. If your pipes do freeze, know where your shut-off valve is located so you can turn off your home’s water supply and help prevent extensive damage.

Raise the Roof

Check your roof for loose or missing shingles, and walk around your home searching for gaps, cracks or openings around windows, doors or in the foundation. If you see any part of your home’s exterior in disrepair, fix it before snow or rain can seep in and cause damage.

Review Your Policy

Thoroughly walk through your homeowners policy to make sure you have the appropriate coverage for a range of winter-related claims. If you’re unsure if your insurance is up to snuff, contact your agent and have him or her explain the ins and outs of your policy and various scenarios in which you would or wouldn’t be covered.

Even though the weather outside if frightful, completing a full check of your home’s external and internal vulnerabilities to the elements can help prevent winter damage and save you the headache of costly repairs.

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