Wind and hailstorms yield the most insurance claims, followed closely by water damage and freezing.
In fact, the Insurance Information Institute found that almost a quarter of all homeowners insurance claims are water damage and freezing related, and approximately one in 50 insured homes experience one such claim every year.
While it may be difficult to prevent hail or windstorms from damaging your home, there are steps you can take when it comes to water damage and other winter claims.
We spoke with Justin Lanier of Douglas & Lanier Agency, Inc. to find out what you need to know to prevent winter water damage from happening in your home.
Live in an old home? Upgrade your pipes
Frozen pipes are generally caused by the perfect storm of older homes and cold temperatures.
"Some of the older homes usually have maintenance issues," says Justin, who has been part of the insurance industry for more than 12 years. "Over time, the piping material wears out. Temperature fluctuation deteriorates it even faster."
Because of this wear and tear, Justin encourages his clients to upgrade to PEX or cross-linked polyethylene pipes. These are blue and red piping (for hot and cold water) that are cheaper than copper, easier to install, and more flexible. That also means they're less likely to burst.
Gain peace of mind with smart home tech
As homes are getting smarter, so are the home's systems. Smart water devices can help prevent frozen pipes in winter or mitigate the damage once a frozen pipe has burst.
Smart water devices come in two types – sensors around your home in areas where a leak might occur or a device that's placed onto the water main in the home and monitors the flow.
With the Savvi Home Kit, you gain peace of mind with our water leak sensors. Beautifully designed, our sensors fit neatly under sinks, washing machines and any water source in your home. Our water sensors alert you so that a small trickle doesn’t become a major flood.
You can also install an automatic water shut-off valve, which takes prevention to the next level by automatically shutting off the water coming into your home if a leak occurs.
Savvi provides premium discounts for smart water devices, but you should consider them for another reason.
"I don't usually take advantage of the discounts as much as I do the peace of mind," says Justin.
After all, the average water damage claim totals more than $10,000, not to mention the amount of time spent getting things back to normal and the added expense of temporary housing which is often necessary while the repairs are being done.
How your homeowners insurance policy covers freezing pipes
Generally, homeowners insurance policies cover water damage from frozen pipes, but the water damage must be "sudden and accidental.”
That’s why home maintenance is essential to keeping your homeowners insurance. If the water damage occurs because of negligence, such as a poorly maintained water heater or smart water devices that weren’t repaired, then a homeowners insurance claim can be denied.
When in doubt, talk to your insurance agent or Savvi about what's covered in your policy.
What you can do to save your pipes
Cold weather comes quick and fast, so know what to do when Jack Frost arrives at your home.
Identify exposed piping that may be vulnerable to cold weather.
Apply heat tape to that section of the pipe to prevent freezing and bursting.
Routinely check your pipes running along exterior walls.
If you're concerned a pipe might be freezing, get some warm air on it with the help of a space heater or hair dryer.
If your pipe does happen to burst, find your water shut-off valve immediately. It’s generally located in a basement or in a utility closet, and has a red handle. By turning that, you’ll be able to shut off the water coming into your home, thus preventing further damage.
Prevent additional bad stuff from happening
Frozen pipes aren't the only frequent winter home claim.
"I've had some ice damming on some residential homes with steep pitch roofs," says Justin.
Savvi helps to prevent the bad stuff from happening with our smart home system. Smart sensors monitor your home 24/7 for the things that cause the most damage, including smoke and fire detection, burglary and theft, extreme heat and cold temperatures, and of course, water leaks.
Secure live feeds allow you to check in on your home no matter where you are, and our smoke and fire detectors come with 85dBm alarms that send alerts to your smartphone. Our 24/7 monitoring center facilitates rapid action from first responders while the Savvi Key Fob allows you to arm and disarm your system with a click of a button.
Tech to prevent damage and loss with Savvi
Savvi Insurance Group, Inc., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is committed to helping families and individuals prevent losses, stay safe, and protect the people and things they love. We do that by providing our customers with our cutting-edge smart home security system along with a suite of services and benefits designed to proactively predict and prevent losses from happening in the first place.
We then back that up with comprehensive, modernized insurance protection and concierge-style claims handling, at prices that recognize and reward the benefits of a smarter, better protected home.
Join the pre-enrollment list now to get early access to Savvi.