Winter is fast approaching. If you are a property manager, have you taken steps to protect your vacant properties from unwanted insurance claims?
Just like homeowners, property owners benefit from preparing their property for the winter months. Changing temperatures and inclement weather present risks to occupied homes, making unoccupied ones even more vulnerable. Five simple steps can help ensure your property is well maintained and remains move-in ready throughout winter.
#1: Outside Upkeep
Before the cold snap, tend to the property’s exterior. You’ll want to:
- Clean the gutters, making sure they are clear of blockages and structurally sound.
- Clean the exterior (it’s a great time to pressure wash) and inspect for any openings or potential pest problems.
- Tend to the landscape by ensuring trees and shrubbery are trimmed back and away from the property. Be sure to arrange for exterior upkeep over the winter months, such as deicing and snow removal.
- Check the roof for damage and start any needed repairs; ice and snow can exacerbate roof issues.
#2: Prevent Water Mishaps
According to MoneyGeek.com, winter high winds, heavy snow and deep freezes caused over $1 billion in insurance losses in 2020. In 2019, water damage and freezing accounted for 29% of homeowner insurance claims.
There’s no denying a water issue can cause a nightmare. You can proactively protect against such an outcome by:
- Hiring a plumber to winterize pipes and water systems.
- Draining the central heating system to prevent condensation from freezing pipes.
- Draining and disconnecting all outdoor water hoses.
- Regularly inspecting the property over the winter for potential issues.
#3: Fireproof the Property
According to hud.gov, vacant buildings are at a higher risk of suffering fire damage. As you prep for winter, check fire alarms and response systems to ensure they are functioning correctly. Ensure all non-essential appliances are switched off, unplugged and well secured.
Equally important is to secure any interior and exterior amenities such as fire pits and fireplaces. Ensure any gas supplies are appropriately secured and turned off while the property is unoccupied.
#4: Make It Look Occupied
Keeping up appearances discourages vandalism and maintains the appeal for potential buyers or renters. You can make the home appear occupied by:
- Setting up timed lights
- Having the landscape periodically tended
- Keeping the driveway and walkways clear of snow and ice
- Adding holiday cheer with timed lights and decorations like a door wreath and small lawn ornaments
It is also increasingly easy to set up inexpensive doorbell or exterior light fixture cameras with remote access to monitor the property.
#5: Check Insurance Coverage
It’s always a good idea to check with your property insurer as the winter months approach. Most have specific cold-weather requirements to ensure insurance coverage. Use these to create a detailed checklist for winterizing your vacant property so you aren’t caught off guard by an unforeseen claim that could be denied.
Now is a great time to review your cold-weather coverage. One of our trusted advisors can help you ensure you’re fully prepared for Mother Nature. Call us today at 855-INSURED or schedule a free insurance review now.