A Flurry of Worry in the Winter Months: How to Protect Your New England Property and Family

January 17, 2017

If you grew up in New England, or have spent substantial time in this quadrant of the United States, than you are no stranger to our long and arduous winter months. This kind of living requires a certain level of cold weather preparation to keep you and your property safe. As we head into the heart of the winter season, here are some helpful reminders to keep you protected until the long days of winter are behind us.

Icy Roads

Ensuring your visibility is as clear as it can be is always beneficial when driving on black ice through winter. Black ice is the most dangerous driving culprit in the winter. Often unseen and unexpected, it can lead to serious accidents. Remember to drive slow, break early when coming to stops and be aware of other drivers. Before the icy season hits, remember to check your auto coverage.

Basic auto liability insurance covers damage that may be done to a third-party or property belonging to a third party. Collision and comprehensive coverage will ensure that damages to your car and any other car involved in an accident are covered.

In Connecticut, Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance is included in your auto policy. UM insurance ensures that regardless of who is at fault for an accident, your insurance company will be responsible for covering some or all of the damages, even if the other motorist is not insured. UIM provides coverage in the event the other at fault party’s insurer is unable to fully satisfy the value of your injury claim. The UIM coverage would pay in addition to the underinsured at fault party insurer. The minimum amount required by law is $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident.

While minimum UM limits mirror Connecticut’s minimum liability limits of 20/40, these limits were established nearly 50 years ago and are generally inadequate today. Liability limits are for others, and UM/UIM limits are for you and your family. The more family members you have often riding in a vehicle, the more important higher UM/UIM limits are.

Underinsured Motorist Conversion coverage also provides for reimbursement in the event that you are injured by an underinsured driver, but with this additional coverage your claim is not reduced by payments from any other source, including the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.

If you are not sure whether you have adequate coverage to get you through the months ahead, call your agent to review your policy.

Frozen or Burst Pipes

This is a big fear for New Englanders, but more avoidable than people may think. Here are a few steps to protecting your pipes and your property from water damage:

  • Know where and how to shut off the water in your home.
  • Check your pipes for cracks and leaks.
  • Set your thermostat above 55 degrees F. If you go out of town, you can turn your heat down, but be sure never to turn it off.

What to do if despite all efforts your pipes freeze or burst?

First, shut off your water main immediately and contact a plumber. If your pipes burst, contact your insurance agent as well and be sure to document the damage and take pictures for your claim.

Ice Dams

Keeping your gutters clean of debris is critical before the winter weather hits. Often leaves will get stuck in gutters toward the end of fall making it difficult for water to properly drain if they are not removed. When the cold hits and the water trapped in your gutters freezes, this can cause a significant backup of melting snow/ice to your roof ultimately leading to water penetrating the interior of your home. Heavy accumulations of snow/ice can lead to a significant backup. Even mild backup can cause a headache if the leak is slow and unobserved leading to mold over time.

It is never too late to get your gutters cleaned and ensure proper water flow. If you suspect a buildup, call a contractor immediately to rid your gutters of debris and reduce your risk of ice damming, but do not attempt to clear ice clogged gutters on your own as you could damage your roof.

To make sure you are prepared for another New England winter, contact Brooks, Todd & McNeil. An agent will be happy to address any concerns and assess your insurance needs.