We’re already approaching the end of December, and if you haven’t winterized your Ohio property, you will already be feeling the impacts. With the harsh cold and the at-times unrelenting snow, your home needs attention at this time of every year. No matter how great a job you did last year, your property may not be ready.
It’s not just for the sake of your own comfort or to avoid the cost of maintenance, either. If you don’t winterize your property effectively, your insurance may not pay out major claims.
To help you understand what you need to get done, here is a quick guide as to how to winterize your property and what it means for your insurance.
Steps to Winterize Property in Ohio
The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) is leading calls to winterize your property on time, indicating the sort of attention you need to give your home. They have encouraged Ohioans to:
- clean debris from gutters and downspouts: when these get clogged, water buildup can cause damage to your roof and other vulnerable parts of your home
- replace missing shingles: the more volatile your roof is, the more at risk to inclement weather your property and possessions become
- monitor overhanging tree limbs: you don’t necessarily need to cut them down, but take care to check if they are causing problems
- inspect the underside of the roof for potential leaks
- maintain adequate heat throughout the season to prevent frozen and burst water pipes
- insulate the water pipes
These steps cover the basics of how to winterize your property. As you may have noticed, they urge you to pay particular attention to your roof. There is good reason for this, especially when it comes to insurance.
Homeowners Insurance and Roof Maintenance
When you get homeowners insurance coverage, you understandably expect all claims on damages to be paid out. This should certainly be the case, but it does not absolve you of responsibility for maintaining your home. The roof is a particularly common point of contention.
Roof collapses and leaks can cause tremendous damage to your property as well as your possessions. Insurance will only pay out, however, if there is no indication of neglect on your part. If they find that you could have prevented the problem by routine maintenance, they will refuse to cover your claims, even if the weather event that caused the issue was unforeseen.
This is why you need to not only winterize but to review your insurance as well. Check specifically for what is expected from you, and which cases your insurance might not cover. This should not be a cause for concern if you are maintaining your home properly. And if you find that you have unintentionally neglected your roof, it should prompt you to start taking better care, especially in the winter.
Flood Insurance in Ohio
It is not just your regular homeowners insurance that you should check. Flood insurance in Ohio and throughout the United States is slightly more complicated. That is because flooding is not covered by most private insurance companies. Instead, you need to get flood insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA operates the National Flood Insurance Program.
FEMA flood insurance has been in the news this year because of their changes to how premiums are underwritten. In the past, flood insurance was fairly standard no matter where you lived. Now, homes in higher risk areas are seeing price hikes, while low risk areas are getting price cuts.
For many Ohioans, this means skyrocketing price hikes. Unfortunately, the higher the price of your premium, the more necessary it is that you pay it. We see a fair amount of flooding in Ohio, and without flooding insurance, damages to your property and possessions will not be covered by your regular homeowners insurance.
If you’re wondering why the National Flood Insurance Program is changing now, it is in large part due to climate change. The federal government in particular wants buyers of homes to avoid areas which will likely fall victim to flooding due to rising sea levels, increased rainfall, and other issues that are simply unavoidable. For this reason, the homes most affected are those on beach fronts in states like Florida.
Maintenance and Preparation
We’re fast approaching 2022 and the winter is far from over. If you have not yet winterized your Ohio home, you need to do so as soon as possible. If you don’t winterize your home and something happens to it, your insurance may well not pay out.
Spend some time going over your insurance policy as well, checking for what they exclude and paying particular attention to the flood insurance you are getting from FEMA. As long as you conform to their requirements and regularly maintain your home, you will be covered for all eventualities.