I hate winter. Being from the northeastern U.S., I can’t stand the cold and think snow is a major inconvenience — and many homeowners probably share my feelings.
The frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall in cold-weather states, along with wind and hail storms in other areas, can cause damage to homes, and in many instances result in homeowners needing to file an insurance claim.
The Hartford recently analyzed homeowner claims data from the last five full winters (December to March) and conducted an online survey of 184 of its property adjusters to find out what are the most costliest winter claims. The analysis also determined the five most common winter weather claims and the top five U.S. states for winter weather claims.
Click “next” to see the top three costliest winter weather claims and where they’re most likely to happen. Read through to the end to see an infographic from The Hartford for its full findings on the most damaging winter weather claims.
3. Tree collapse
Average Claim Cost: $6,000
Tree collapses are the third most costly winter weather claim. Trees in the western U.S. are generally larger than in other parts of the country and claims in this area average more than $10,000. By comparison, tree collapse claims range on average from $3,000 to $5,000 in the northeast, midwest, and south.
The Hartford recommends regularly assessing the trees and other vegetation on your property. Weakened tree limbs can easily come down in windy weather, so the company suggests maintaining and trimming trees near the home that could fall on the house, other buildings or vehicles, before storm season.
2. Hail damage
Average Claim Cost: $10,000
Hail damage is the second costliest winter weather claim.
In the south, it is three times more common than in other areas. Roof damage from hail is more likely at the end of winter and can lead to claims that average $10,000.
Claims for hail damage are often filed late because the damage isn’t always easy to see. After a large hail storm, a homeowner may want to consider hiring a professional to examine the roof if they’re not able to safely inspect it. Filing an insurance claim as soon as damage is noticed allows the insurance company to start working with the homeowner sooner to minimize the damage.
1. Frozen pipes
Average Claim Cost: $18,000
According to The Hartford, the costliest cold weather claim is frozen pipes.
While most common in the northeast and midwest, frozen pipes happen in all areas of the country and average about $18,000 per claim.
The Hartford’s adjusters recommend learning where the water shut-off is before you’re faced with a frozen pipe or water leak. If damage occurs from a water leak or frozen pipe, a homeowner may need to find a service company to help clean up the mess, which may help save money and prevent further damage.
To help homeowners prepare for the worst winter can throw at them, The Hartford suggests the following tips:
- Perform seasonal maintenance: Have the heating system serviced on an annual basis, including testing to make sure the heat is working throughout the home. It’s also important to insulate any pipes that are susceptible to freezing and unhook hoses from outdoor faucets.
- Prepare for winter storms: Move vehicles off the street and/or away from large tree limbs. Have the snow blower serviced. Become familiar with how to trip the manual release on overhead garage door openers and have shovels ready ahead of the storm.
- Stock up on supplies: In the event of an extended power outage, have bottled water and non-perishable foods, clothing and blankets, batteries and flashlights. It’s also helpful to have a supply of rock salt, other ice melt or sand, in case the stores run out during a storm.
Half of The Hartford’s adjusters surveyed say they begin preparing their own homes for winter at the end of summer, around Labor Day. Another 45% said they start as soon as the first cold front hits. Only 4% said they wait for a specific storm warning.
In the event that a customer does need to file an insurance claim after winter storm damage, The Hartford’s adjusters recommend homeowners avoid making the most common claim filing mistakes: Not trying to mitigate or limit damage while waiting for an adjuster to arrive, waiting to file a claim, and throwing away items without taking an inventory or capturing documentation.
See the infographic below for more tips from The Hartford and more information on the most damaging winter weather claims. (Click image to enlarge.)