1. Know what you have for coverage: Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage resulting from burst pipes or fallen trees but flooding is not covered! Contact your agent to be sure what your policy covers.
2. Trim those trees: Trim any branches that are touching the house and cut down trees that are rotting or about to fall. A tree falling over on to your house or car can cause serious damage.
3. Check your heater before it's too late: Don't wait until a very cold night to check your heater. You'll be out of luck (and very cold) if you find it's not working. Be prepared and make sure it's working well beforehand. Heat outages can also lead to frozen pipes.
4. Take a lot of pictures of damage you incur: but BEFORE you start to make any repairs. Most people are prepared to take pictures of any damage to their home but the pictures should be taken BEFORE any repair work begins to give the claims appraiser and adjuster the full extent of the damage. An appraiser will also review the damage and take pictures but having pictures on hand right after the damage occurs can help the process a lot.
5. Prevent frozen pipes: Know how your pipes are insulated and let water drip out of the faucet on really cold days - to keep the water moving. If you plan on lowering the heat while you are on vacation, don't turn it off completely. The recommend setting is 65 degrees. Yes, heat costs are expensive but burst pipes are costly, too. In the event of a burst pipe, make sure you are familiar with how to shut off the water so that you can prevent further damage.
6. Clear the gutters: Be sure to remove sticks, leaves and debris from gutters so that water and snow can flow easily - otherwise it can freeze. Once frozen, snow will then start to pile up on the roof, leading to leaks as it melts. This is known as an ice dam. Ice dams can cause extensive amounts of damage.
7. Fix what you can fix: After you take the photos of the damage, you may start making small repairs to prevent further damage. An appraiser will need to see the damage before it's fixed to get a good idea of the type and size of the loss but it's okay to do small repairs that will prevent further damage from happening - like shutting off the water and placing tarp over broken windows.
Happy New Year and please call us at (978) 562-3464 if we can be of assistance to you!
Thomas E. Sears Insurance Agency, Inc.