Snow may be the most obvious culprit behind winter home insurance claims (hello, leaks and flooding!), but severe storms featuring strong winds and hail can unexpectedly blow through and cause significant damage in a matter of minutes.
Wild weather patterns can be unpredictable, but the first step to safeguarding your home is regular maintenance. As the Insurance Bureau of Canada would like to remind you, “a home insurance policy is not a maintenance contract.” It’s crucial to fix any minor damage to your home as soon as it occurs. Neglecting it means your claim will be denied if it leads to greater damage. Here are some ways to prevent damage to your home caused by wind and hail:
Windows and doors
Windows offer a significant opportunity for wind and hail to breach the inside of your home. If your house has a lot of large windows, you might want to consider installing impact-resistant ones, which use special glass and beefed-up frames to protect against damage caused by wind-borne debris. Windows are particularly important because if the glass shatters, wind will rush into your home and increase the air pressure, which is strong enough to tear through walls or even rip the roof off your house. If you want to be extra cautious, you can add temporary storm shutters to protect the home from flying glass. During a storm, keep windows and doors closed and stay away from them in case there’s flying debris. To secure your front door against heavy winds, install heavy-duty bolts.
Roof and siding
Inspect your roof annually for missing, damaged, or aging shingles. Old or poorly maintained roofs won’t be covered by home insurance policies. If you’re getting a new roof installed (by a professional contractor, of course), consider impact-resistant asphalt shingles, which are rated to withstand hailstones.
Flat roofs are especially vulnerable to collapse due to snow and ice buildup while sloping roofs create ideal conditions for ice dams. Icicles may be pretty, but a powerful storm could potentially tear off your gutters and roof shingles and allow snowmelt to seep into your interior walls. You should also check your attic sheathing for water damage, which damages the integrity of your roof.
Yard, trees and shrubbery
Keep trees and shrubs neatly trimmed, removing any dead or unwieldy branches that could damage your house or your neighbours’. If a tree falls on your house during a winter storm, for example, your home insurance policy will generally cover it—but it depends on the tree’s condition. Dead trees are considered a hazard, and it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to remove them in a timely manner before they cause damage.
As well, secure any patio furniture, tools, and kids’ toys or play equipment, or move them inside your house or garage for safekeeping. If you usually park your car in your driveway or on the street, move it to your garage or protect it with a car cover.
Inside your home
The Canadian government recommends having enough basic supplies to be self-sufficient for 72 hours in case of emergency. Stash a first-aid kit under your bathroom sink, and keep an emergency supply of flashlights and candles, water, and perishable foods. Make sure everyone in your home knows where these items are kept. Designate the safest area of your home, such as a windowless room or your basement, as a shelter in case of a severe storm.
The bottom line
Weather patterns may be unpredictable. But as a homeowner, you can maintain your home in a way that’ll minimize damage. However, don’t wait until a storm is approaching to take action. And remember, any updates should be reported to your insurance company immediately. Consider adding flood insurance to your current home insurance policy.
To estimate your insurance costs, get a home insurance quote.