If you’re like many Americans, you’ve been hit by a hefty dose of winter recently. Even if you’re used to snowstorms, heavy rains, and bitter cold, there are things you can do now to prepare for or prevent a weather-related insurance claim.
About one in 50 homes experiences water damage or damage caused by freezing every year - with the cost of repair averaging $10,849.1 Whether you’re experiencing unexpected snow in the South or thunderstorms in the Northeast, the danger of water damage is prevalent across the country.
As winter continues, keep these four tips in mind to stay safe and (hopefully) avoid a costly insurance claim.
Tip #1: Avoid Side Roads
If you have to drive, avoid side roads that may contain long-lasting ice or snow. Side roads may be sheltered by the shade of homes or trees, making snow and ice last longer. Plus, snowplows tend to hit heavily used roads first - such as highways and main streets in cities and towns.
If you see an accumulation of water on the street, turn around or go around the water if safe to do so. Driving through a flooded area can cause serious damage to your vehicle and can be hazardous to your safety.
Tip #2: Put Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle
Some auto insurance companies will offer 24/7 roadside assistance as a part of your policy, which may come in handy during periods of inclement weather. If your vehicle becomes stranded in the snow, there are a couple of things you’ll want to have on hand as you await assistance.
Emergency supplies can be kept in your trunk, and they may be used to keep you warm, nourished, or help you get “unstuck” from the snow.
Some emergency supplies to consider keeping in your car include:
- Ice scraper
- Foldable snow shovel
- Snacks & bottled water
- Battery-supplied phone charger
- Cat litter or sand (used for gaining traction in snow and ice)
Tip #3: Watch for Cracks
If you have small cracks in your driveway, walkways, or sidewalks, you’ll want to keep an eye on them during winter - especially after heavy precipitation. Rain or snow (as it melts) can seep into small cracks in concrete or asphalt. As water freezes and turns to ice, it expands. If you’re experiencing below-freezing temperatures in your area, this could cause cracks to fill with water, freeze, and get bigger. Keeping your walkways shoveled and salted can make it easier to spot these issues before they become larger (more costly) problems down the line.
Tip #4: Shovel for Safety
Whether it’s a couple of inches or several feet, homeowners are responsible for keeping sidewalks and walkways clear on their property. States and regions have their regulations regarding snow removal, with some requiring that sidewalks be shoveled within several hours of the snow stopping.
Neglecting to shovel and salt your property can be grounds for a lawsuit, should serious injury result from someone slipping and falling on an icy area. The best way to avoid injury and a costly court case is to be aware of your city’s rules regarding snow removal and follow them accordingly.
Being prepared and responsible can help you get through the winter blues. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes, headaches, and potential injuries. As you work to keep your vehicle and home weather-proof this winter, don’t forget to double-check your homeowner’s insurance policy and auto policy and make any updates or adjustments you need to stay well-covered.
Tip #5 Avoid Large Puddles
At first glance, puddles don’t seem like a big deal. But you never know what is lying underneath it. Your car could collect road salt and dirt when it goes through large puddles. There could also be foreign objects and potholes. Take note that if your car was damaged due to it hitting potholes, it is going to require an impactful fixing. Below are only some of the damages that your car can incur from large puddles:
- Bent rims
- Engine damage
- Tire punctures
- Steering knocked out of alignment
- Suspension damage
- Exhaust system damage
Tip #6 Do Not Park On The Street
Some people prefer to park on the street even though they have a parking space within their premises. It is just more convenient for them. At the same time, they also want to avoid the complexities of having to fit the car in the parking space, especially if the owner of the car had just gotten his license and does not have a whole lot of experience in driving just yet.
But parking your car on the street has some disadvantages tied to it. One specific disadvantage happens during winter. If you park your car in the street at this time, your car could be buried deep in the snow or it could be sprayed directly by salt.
Aside from that, parking on the street makes your car susceptible to other damage or even theft. If you don’t encounter any of what we mentioned, you’d also have parking tickets to worry about if you insist on parking on the street during winter.
Tip #7 Avoid Driving Deep Into The Snow
People typically avoid driving out during winter but there are still instances when you have to take a quick trip to the grocery to purchase some food to last until Spring.
This is why we recommend that you do complete grocery shopping before wintertime starts. The trouble with driving deep into the snow is that 1) it could get you stranded 2) it poses your car into a lot of unwanted damages. The latter could greatly impact your car insurance.
People get car insurance because they want to be able to count on it during a time that matters the most. That being said, this plan could go to waste if you wound up having to get an insurance claim during the winter. Fingers crossed but there are multiple occasions that could lead to problems that could inevitably lead to an insurance claim as well. We hope that the tips we’ve shared with you can help you become better equipped to keep your car safe during winter without taking out your insurance.