Common Winter Insurance Claims & How To Avoid Them


It is no secret that most of us love the holiday season and can appreciate some snow from time to time (especially outdoor enthusiasts). However, cold temperatures and harsh winter storms can cause damage to you, your home, and your car, leading to costly insurance claims. Do you have enough insurance to cover your valuable property and belongings and protect yourself from liability?

Earlier this year, we discussed typical insurance claims that happen during summer and how to avoid them. Today on the blog, we'll discuss common insurance claims for winter and how to best prepare yourself for the winter months ahead. 

Home Insurance Claims

Winter storms cost homeowners up to $15 billion in insured losses in the first half of 2021, so it’s vital to have adequate insurance for your home. Do you have enough homeowner’s insurance to cover your home in the event of a disaster?

Increasing your homeowner’s insurance before the winter months covers your valuable assets, including your personal property, other structures, personal liability, and additional living expenses if you need temporary living space while your home is repaired.

You can also take practical steps to avoid filing home insurance claims. Some of the most common winter home insurance claims include frozen or burst pipes, fallen trees or branches, ice dams, and house fires.

Frozen or Burst Pipes

When temperatures drop significantly, your pipes can freeze, burst, and cause significant water damage. One in 60 insured homes files a property damage claim each year due to frozen pipes, so it's important to increase your homeowner’s insurance policy to prepare for the worst. Your policy will pay for water damage only if you take reasonable steps to prevent it.

You can take certain precautions to prevent frozen/burst pipes, like adding insulation to your hot water pipes and leaving the water dripping overnight so that water does not freeze. Whether you pay for someone to insulate your pipes or do it yourself, insulating your hot water pipes can raise your water temperature between 2°F to 4°F, and it will also allow you to lower your water temperature setting, conserve water, and achieve hotter water temperatures faster. 

You should also keep your temperature no lower than 64°F during cold weather and turn off the water valve to mitigate further damage. The World Health Organization recommends keeping indoor temperatures between 64°F and 75°F. The minimum temperature should be 68°F to protect the health of infants, elderly people, or those with health problems.

Fallen Trees or branches

Fallen branches and trees are the most common types of winter damage. They can cause significant structural damage to your home and other structures — damages that may cause thousands of dollars to fix.

Increasing home insurance to include other structures coverage will pay for damaged fences or sheds, but your policy will not cover you if it’s determined that you didn’t trim your trees. You can mitigate the risk by regularly trimming any overhanging branches back before winter begins.  

Ice dams

Ice dams form on the edge of your roof during persistent cold weather. The ice blocks snow blocks melting snow, causing it to refreeze when temperatures drop. Ice dams cause ice to form under your roof shingles, leading to water damage, mold, and leaks inside your home. Ice shingles can even rip off your gutter.

If you're a high-net-worth individual, your luxury home is a precious asset that protects you, your family, and your personal belongings. Increased homeowner’s insurance coverage covers water damage unless a lack of maintenance causes it.

You can prevent ice damming by adding extra insulation to your roof. Ensure your attic is adequately sealed and your gutters are debris-free. A contractor can also inspect your roof for specialized solutions like rubberized shingles or heat cables to prevent ice dams from forming.

House fires

Between 2015 to 2019, home structure fires that began with decorations caused $13 million in direct property damage, while candles caused an average of $291 million in direct property damage. Because of these statistics, increasing your homeowner’s insurance to cover fire damage and even additional living expenses is vitally important.

Your insurance will pay for damages unless the fire is intentional, but you can prevent the devastation by keeping your Christmas trees watered, turning off electric decorations when you’re not home, and using flashlights instead of candles if you lose power.

A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly, although electrical problems cause almost one-third of home Christmas tree fires. While you should take caution picking, placing, and lighting your tree, having your home's electrical system checked at least every 3 to 5 years is equally important. You should also keep all candles and portable heating devices at least three feet away from flammable objects and snuff them out if you leave the room for extended periods.

Auto Insurance Claims

Winter weather leads to decreased visibility and slippery roads, which is why over 116,800 people suffer injuries in car accidents during winter every year. There is also an increased chance of damage from fallen trees or branches or water damage from excessive snow accumulation.

The best way to prevent injury or damage to your car is by preparing your car for winter. In addition to annual maintenance, you should install winter tires, clear your vehicle of snow and ice before driving, and drive more slowly and defensively. You can also prevent damage by storing your vehicle in a covered structure. Remember to keep your car stocked with emergency supplies as well. 

Personal Insurance Claims

Do you have enough insurance to fully cover you if someone is injured on your property or you run into complications during travel? Personal insurance protects you financially if someone else is harmed on your property, so it’s important to consider increasing your insurance coverage during the winter months.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Winter weather conditions make surfaces slippery, which leads to increased slip-and-fall injuries. Your insurance won’t cover you if you didn’t take steps to prevent injury, so remove snow and ice promptly and cover icy surfaces with rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. You should also make sure you have handrails in areas with stairs and keep your yard well-lit.

Travel Complications

You may enjoy going on destination trips during the winter to escape the cold weather or go skiing. No matter the occasion, you do not want to be out hundreds or thousands of dollars for your first-class ticket or luxury accommodations because of a winter storm. Travel insurance policies provide full reimbursement if you have flight or housing issues due to a winter storm.

Suppose you cannot escape the storm or are forced to travel via car. In that case, there are extra precautions you should take, such as limiting travel in extremely low visibility conditions, avoiding ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges, and listening to radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service. 

Pet safety

Our pets also experience heightened risk during winter, as most holiday foods and decorations can be hazardous. To add on top of that, parties, visitors, or holiday travel can stress out and upset your pet.

So, if you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. Decorations like electric lights or tinsel should be secured or out of reach. Lastly, ensure your pet has access to a comfortable, quiet place, whether a crate or a separate room.

Of course, some things just cannot be prevented, and in the case you need to find the nearest emergency veterinary clinic; you want to be sure you are covered. Getting pet insurance can be beneficial for this reason, as the right pet insurance policy can provide 24/7 live vet chat access so you can get the answers you need without the cost of a vet visit. 

Customized insurance solutions

As a high-net-worth individual, additional insurance is necessary for winter planning to protect what is most important – yourself, your loved ones, and your wealth. You don’t want the worst to happen without the highest coverage possible. Contact Highline Risk Solutions today to get your personalized quote on the best insurance coverage for winter just in time for winter weather. You’ll enjoy true peace of mind knowing that you’re covered no matter what happens.