Storm comingLiving in Florida, you might assume that we are immune to harsh winters. However, you might be wrong. Many parts of the Sunshine State see their share of undesirable winter conditions. Your home stands to suffer from many common hazards following changes in seasons. Even if the seasonal change is relatively mild, it is still a change.

Take a look at some of the common winter hazards that might develop in your home. You can usually take steps to prevent dangers from causing damage. Then, consider how the right homeowners insurance can help if disaster strikes.

Fire and Heat Damage

Yes, even in Florida, you might need to light a fire in the fireplace or turn on the heat this winter. If you use your heat or fireplace, doing so might increase the risks of fires in your home. For example, a short in your HVAC system might cause a fire. Debris accumulation in your infrequently-used fireplace might cause a blaze to erupt. Therefore, you must do what you can to prevent them:

  • Clean your fire places and chimneys at least annually. Always make fires in safe ways that keep them contained to the fireplace
  • Inspect your HVAC system each year. When you turn on your heat for the first time, monitor the system temporarily
  • Make sure your electrical or gas systems do not have frays or malfunctions
  • Keep flammable items away from sources of heat. This might include items like heaters, fireplaces, lit candles and even wall sockets

Wind Damage

Changing weather patterns might bring increased wind to parts of Florida. Floridians often know how to reinforce their homes against wind. However, wind damage prevention should be an ongoing part of your home maintenance.

  • Make sure seals around windows, doors and other entryways function correctly. Strong seals keep the structure and your home’s interior safe from wind damage
  • Inspect the home’s foundation for signs of damage or stress. Wind damage might lead to structural failures
  • Clear away brush, debris and dead foliage from your home. Cut down dead limbs and trees. This can help prevent them toppling onto the home in high winds
  • Inspect your roof for structural integrity. Repair shingles or other structural damage that may become hazardous
  • Move unsecured outdoor items indoors during periods of high wind. You don’t want them to become airborne or otherwise damage

Cold Temperature Hazards

Should a cold period strike, homes can sustain damage from extreme temperature changes.

  • Wrap exposed pipes and keep a constant, small stream of water in the pipes to help prevent freezing
  • Inspect your foundations after cold weather to see about potential damage. Make repairs pertinently to keep the problems from worsening
  • Turn off all the water in outside faucets
  • Close garages and keep the interior of the home warm and dry

Precipitation Damage

Heavy precipitation of any kind can damage a home. It might cause leaks, flooding, mold damage or clogged gutters.

  • Ensure that the home’s seals and foundations do not allow easy access for water
  • Make sure the roof’s structure can withstand accumulation of precipitation. Also make sure it doesn’t not have holes or other ways for leaking water to enter the home
  • Clean out your gutters and drainage systems to allow water to flow away from the home. Water should not accumulate around the structure

How Your Home Insurance Can Help Repair Winter Damage

Despite attention to the home, there may be times when you cannot prevent damage. For example, a simple spark from a controlled fireplace burn might ignite a house fire. Should such a debacle impact your home, you might need to turn to your homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance usually comes with several types of property protection, including:

  • Dwelling coverage: This part of your policy can pay to rebuild or repair your home. You might be able to get Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost (RC) coverage. ACV coverage can pay you the market value of your home at the time of the incident. RC coverage can provide you the money needed for materials to rebuild your home today.
  • Personal Possessions Coverage: This coverage will help you replace or repair certain qualifying personal items damaged by covered events.

However, homeowners insurance policies do come with their limits and exclusions. For example, many policies do not cover damage resulting from floods or mold damage. If a storm in winter causes either of these damages, your policy might not provide assistance.

Additionally, policies almost never cover damage caused by neglectful or intentional actions on the part of homeowners. For example, if you fail to repair a roof leak and this leads to flooding, you might not be able to file a successful claim.

Talk to your insurance agent about getting the right Tampa homeowners insurance. Tell the agent how you use your home during the winter, and ask them how to structure your policy. If you run into trouble, your agent can usually help you start the claims process and understand your coverage. 

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