I’m more of a winter person than a summer person—I’d rather endure 20 degrees over sweating through 100 degrees any day. However, your home and property may not hold up as well through the winter, and Mother Nature can be very temperamental. I urge everyone to make sure your homeowners insurance policy is ready to withstand any winter-related damage.

A typical homeowners insurance policy will protect you against certain damages and perils as a result of winter weather. It will cover damage to your home and other structures if it occurs as a result of falling trees, wind, or frozen pipes. Damage from heavy snow is covered if it causes a roof, porch, or other structure on the property to collapse.

Determine your policy’s winter damage coverage

An HO-2 insurance policy, also known as a “broad form,” covers 16 perils. In the winter, this policy usually includes coverage of such perils as the freezing of a plumbing system; damage from the weight of ice, snow, or sleet; and damage from a windstorm or hail. However, an HO-3 policy, known as a “special form” because it contains exclusions rather than inclusions, does not usually cover problems stemming from a power failure or from water damage. Talk to your agent about which type of policy you have and what the specific inclusions or exclusions may be.

Depending on your policy and the carrier, even if you have the coverage, I don’t always recommend making small claims for issues like for food spoilage in the event of a winter power outage. Typically the total amount that you would be eligible for is not worth it with a small claim—a claim for under $500 can cost more to process than the actual check that is issued. Additionally, each and every claim, no matter the size, remains on your record. Insurance carriers will look at your credit report to help determine your premium, and they’ll also look at your insurance record. Nuisance claims can be detrimental in the long run when you’re trying to qualify for a new policy or carrier—when underwriters try to price your policy, they will look at your record.

Take a look at your homeowners insurance policy this winter and check if any winter-related damages are specifically excluded. It’s better to talk to your insurance agent now, before you’re dealing with a winter storm and a rejected homeowners insurance claim.

Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.

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