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Winterize your Property Insurance Risks

The cold may very well be here to stay. So, it’s a good time to turn attention to pipes and roofs and try to minimize the risks that come with unusual weather, ice and snow.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), extreme winter weather is the third-largest cause of insured catastrophe losses after hurricanes and tornadoes. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I). estimates that losses from snow, ice, freezing temperatures and related causes averaged $1.2 billion annually over the past 20 years.

If you own property, frozen or overflowing pipes can cause major havoc to your home or business.  Water pipes in houses in southern climates often are more vulnerable to winter cold spells. IBHS research shows that a burst pipe can easily cause $5,000 or more in water damage, some of which may be excluded from coverage depending on the provisions and exclusions of your commercial or homeowners policy. IBHS offers up the following best practices:

  • Provide a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power to sump pumps;
  • Insulate all attic penetrations;
  • Ensure proper seals on doors and windows;
  • Seal all wall cracks and penetrations.

Roofs must also be monitored during the winter. IBHS  recommends that you know how much snowpack building roofs can accumulate before they are at risk of collapse. The Institute notes, for example, that most residential roofs should be able to support 20 lbs. of snow per square foot of roof space before they become stressed. For fresh snow, that means 4’ of snow can accumulate before a roof is stressed. That number cuts in half for packed snow, however – and 1” of ice equals a whole foot of fresh snow.

When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe, freeze and burst.

Stay warm!


This information is provided for general information only.  None of the information provided herein should be construed as providing legal advice or a separate attorney client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should not act upon the information presented herein without consulting an attorney of your choice about your particular situation. While PK Law has taken reasonable efforts to insure the accuracy of this material, the accuracy cannot be guaranteed and PK Law makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.