Responding to Disaster: Extreme Winter Weather

While the northern regions of the U.S. are more susceptible to extreme winter weather, almost the entire country faces some possibility for snow, ice and winds to wreak havoc. In the south, a little accumulation of precipitation can bring big impacts, with tree damage and widespread power outages that can affect your home and personal property.

Facing such risks, you can protect yourself and your property with the coverage you need for any life event that may come your way with RBFCU Insurance Agency. A homeowner’s policy is the starting place to cover your home and your personal property from damage caused by extreme winter weather.

There always comes a time to prepare for winter’s brunt, whether you know that extreme winter weather is a normal part of the calendar where you live or you’re farther south and have to keep your eye on the forecast for less frequent occurrences of snow or ice. Here are some tips from the Insurance Information Institute on precautions you can take to avoid the expense and inconvenience of damage from winter weather:

  • Clean out the gutters: Sticks, leaves and other debris can form a dam in your gutters when ice forms. When the ice begins to thaw, the water can seep into the house and drip through the ceilings and walls. Installing gutter guards can prevent this buildup from happening.

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches: Even if you don’t get heavy ice or snow, a weak branch can succumb to just a little bit of precipitation or wind. Get rid of obvious trouble points with your trees and minimize the damage that can be done to your home or anyone walking nearby.

  • Make sure wall openings and other areas are sealed or insulated: Cold air getting in can be uncomfortable, but warm air going out can be a bigger problem. If ice melts, then the water refreezes, it can damage your roof. Consider insulation for your garage, as well, to protect pipes that extend into an area like this that’s not heated.

  • Protect water pipes: Extreme cold can freeze pipes and lead to them bursting. Check them closely, now, for cracks and leaks. Go into attics and crawl spaces and see that the pipes are insulated. You can even look into a plug-in heating cable or emergency pressure-relief valves. Know where all pipes are located and know where the water shutoff can be accessed. You can go the extra step by having pumps installed in areas where you are advised could gather water in the case of the pipes bursting.

  • Look for combustion points and have detectors installed: Have your heating system checked by an HVAC technician well before the cold weather arrives. If you have space heaters or fireplaces, clear all combustibles and keep them well away. Detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide can be found at hardware stores and should have batteries that are charged.

  • Consider additions to your homeowner policy: It’s a good idea to go through your insurance documents to make sure you have coverage for any sort of water damage that can occur from winter weather.

If the structure of your home or heating system fails, or you’re caught in winter weather away from the house, here are the next steps to take from the American Red Cross.

Will you need repairs to your home after a winter storm? If so, contact your insurance agency and ask if they can direct you to a contractor who can arrive at the property and access damage that may need to be temporarily secured to prevent further problems. Later, plans can be made for an entire course of repair and remediation.

The Texas Department of Insurance offers recommendations on issues that should be considered. When dealing with a contractor, make sure you:

  • Get written estimates on company letterhead showing contact information. Get a copy of all written, signed agreements and warranty terms.
  • Get at least three bids to compare.
  • Check out references, and beware of a contractor who only offers out-of-town referrals or solicits door-to-door. Conduct online searches. Check for complaints with the local Better Business Bureau.
  • Don’t make final payment until the job is finished.
  • Be suspect of companies that offer to waive the deductible. Any company that submits false information to your insurance company about the cost of repairs is committing insurance fraud.

As part of our service to members, RBFCU Insurance Agency can help to make sure you have the home and auto insurance you need. Contact 1-888-564-2999 or insurance@rbfcu.org to request your free, no-obligation quote.

This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered financial or insurance advice. Please consult a financial professional or insurance agent before taking any action and to determine how the information provided in this article may apply to your situation.

RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU). Insurance products are not deposits; are not obligations of the credit union; not NCUA insured; and not guaranteed by RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC, RBFCU Services LLC or RBFCU.