If you’re like many Americans, you’re already thinking about the upcoming winter. Even if you’re used to snowstorms and bitter cold, there are things you can do now to prepare for or prevent a weather-related insurance claim.
About one in 50 homes experiences water damage or damage caused by freezing every year, with the repair cost averaging $11,0981. Whether you experience unexpected snow in the South, thunderstorms in the Northeast, or Cleveland’s annual 12” overnight snowstorm, the danger of water damage is prevalent across the country every winter.
As winter approaches, keep these four tips in mind to stay safe and (hopefully) avoid a costly insurance claim.
1: Avoid Side Roads
If you have to drive, avoid side roads that may contain long-lasting ice or snow. It can be tempting to avoid main roads and the cars that come with them in storms, but side roads have their own perils. Side roads may be sheltered by the shade of homes or trees, making snow and ice last longer. Plus, snowplows tend to hit heavily used roads first, such as highways and main streets in cities and towns.
If you see an accumulation of water on the street, go around if it’s safe to do so or turn around if you must. It isn’t always easy to tell how flooded a street actually is, and driving through a flooded area can cause serious damage to your vehicle and can be hazardous to your safety.
2: Keep Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle
Some auto insurance companies will offer 24/7 roadside assistance as a part of your policy, which may come in handy during periods of inclement weather. If your vehicle becomes stranded in the snow, there are a couple of things you’ll want to have on hand as you await assistance.
Emergency supplies can be kept in your trunk, and they may be used to keep you warm, nourished, and help you get unstuck from the snow.
Some emergency supplies to consider keeping in your car include:
- Ice scraper
- Snow shovel
- Non-perishable snacks & bottled water (avoid keeping all of your water in your trunk, where it could freeze. Having some in your car’s main cabin will increase the chance that there is at least some liquid water if you need it.)
- Battery-supplied phone charger
- Cat litter or sand, used for gaining traction in snow and ice
3: Watch for Cracks
If you have small cracks in your driveway, walkways, or sidewalks, you’ll want to keep an eye on them during winter, especially after heavy precipitation. Rain or runoff from melted snow can seep into small cracks in concrete or asphalt. As water freezes and turns to ice, it expands and can cause further cracking. Keeping your walkways shoveled and salted can make it easier to spot these issues before they become larger, more costly problems down the line.
4: Shovel for Safety
Whether it’s a couple of inches or several feet, homeowners are responsible for keeping sidewalks and walkways clear on their property. States and regions have their own regulations regarding snow removal, with some requiring that sidewalks be shoveled within several hours of the snow stopping.
Neglecting to shovel and salt your property can be grounds for a lawsuit if serious injury should result from someone slipping and falling on an icy area. The best way to avoid injury and a costly court case is to be aware of your city’s rules regarding snow removal and follow them accordingly.
Being prepared and responsible can help you get through the winter blues. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes, headaches, and potential injury to yourself or others. As you work to keep your vehicle and home weather-proof this winter, don’t forget to double-check your homeowner’s insurance policy and auto policy and make any updates or adjustments you need to stay well-covered.
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and is provided at least in part by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Original content of Practical Financial Planning, Inc. only is copyright © 2021 by Practical Financial Planning, Inc.