In February of 2015, Gaspar Insurance officially opened its New Jersey office. We picked February because Jeff Drozen, our Director of East Coast Operations, wanted to know what “cold” felt like (being he grew up five minutes from the beach in Los Angeles).

As it turns out, “cold” is exactly what is expected for New Jersey this winter, with most weather organizations predicting a stormy winter for the upcoming season; including a couple of weeks in January and February that are expected to have severe winter storms.

Winter-Related Insurance Claims

With unseasonably cold weather ahead, we expect to see plenty of weather-related insurance claims. Home disasters like storm damage, burst pipes, and damaged roofs can lead to expensive and hard to manage repairs right in the middle of winter.

The severe winter storm we had at the start of 2015 exceeded $2 billion dollars in claims nationwide for the first quarter. These expensive claims weren’t just bad for the providers though, they directly affected the homeowners as well.

After Boston received nine feet of snow, claims caused by roof leaks, ice dams, and water-logged plaster slammed local insurance providers. As a result, insurance premiums in Massachusetts have now increased nearly 9% for homeowners – and those rates aren’t expected to decrease for years.

There’s no way to completely avoid home insurance claims and we all know that weather can be unpredictable, but there are ways to decrease the chances of a claim. Accidents happen, but with some preparation, you can at least reduce the probability of one occurring.

Protect Your Pipes

Know where your pipes are. Pipes that are close to exterior walls are more likely to burst than those well inside your home. Wrapping these out-lying pipes with pipe insulation will help protect them from the colder temperatures.

If a pipe does burst, it’s important to know how to shut off your water. Different pipes can be shut off from different locations, and the faster you can shut them off, the less water damage your home is likely to suffer.

If you think it’s going to be so cold that insulation won’t be enough, you can always leave a small trickle of water running from the faucet attached to the pipe. If the pipe happens to be in a cabinet, leave the cabinet door open so that heat can circulate in.

Outdoor piping, like water sprinkler lines or lines to your swimming pool, is likely to freeze. Disconnect and drain any outdoor houses and store them inside your garage or shed. Afterwards, close the indoor water valves that lead outside and turn on the faucet to get rid of any excess water.

Clean Your Gutters

Gutters full of sticks and leaves can’t drain properly. Backed up water can freeze in your gutters and will work its way into the roof-line over the winter. It works its way underneath your shingles and damages the wood and your roof. Eventually, the water seeps into the walls and damage will start from the inside out.

Often, clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which can lead to a roof collapse. If the weather forecast calls for rain, try to break up any ice dams you can see on your roof, as the rain will make the snow melt faster.

Remember: Always make sure that your downspouts drain away from your homes foundation and always shovel snow away from any downspouts or lowered stairs and windows.

Properly Insulate Your Attic

If you’re expecting a winter full of ice and snow, it’s a good idea to add some extra insulation to your attic. When too much heat escapes through your insulation, it can melt any snow or ice on the roof. When that water refreezes, it can cause ice dams.

If a great amount of snow does accumulate on your roof, be sure to carefully brush it off.

Trimming Your Trees

Dead branches are always a hazard, but during a winter storm, these can come down on your home, your car, or even your family. Before winter sets in, trim your trees appropriately and make sure that any damaged or dead branches are properly removed.

Keeping Your House Warm

Having a warm home over winter isn’t just important for your safety and comfort, but it’s actually better for your house as well. If your thermostat is set to lower than 55 degrees, you actually risk your pipes bursting because of how cold it is inside of your walls.

Many people shut the doors to unoccupied rooms in order to conserve heat, but this can be dangerous because of having uneven temperatures throughout the house. It might not seem like it, but it’s actually a good idea to keep those doors open so that the house heats evenly.

We Can Help

No matter how prepared you are, accidents can still happen. Finding the right home insurance can protect you, your family, and your finances.

At Gaspar, we understand that it’s important to protect all aspects of your life, so we focus on helping families bundle together all of their insurance policies with a single provider — this means great cover and great rates. Whether its auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance, or even motorcycle insurance, we can find a way to help.

Own a business? We excel at helping business owners protect their businesses; including restaurants, professional services, and more.

This winter, be safe and be prepared – and if you’re in the New Jersey area, feel free to give us a call to find out how we can help.