As the temperatures dip below freezing this time of year, a number of weather-related situations can result in property insurance losses. Frozen pipes and ice dams are two of the more common wintertime insurance claims.

However, did you know that insurance coverage for these types of situations can be excluded if certain requirements aren’t met? This is particularly important if you own properties that are being rehabilitated or rental properties that are in-between renters. For example, many rental property insurance forms cover losses stemming from freezing of a plumbing, heating, or air conditioning system as well as freezing of household appliances.

The caveat is that this coverage applies only if heat has been maintained in the building or the water supply has been shut off and all systems and appliances have been drained of water.

There are also additional exclusions in these types of insurance policies for constant or repeated seepage, or leakage of water or steam over a period of weeks, months, or years from one of the systems mentioned above.

With this in mind, it is important that property owners take care to maintain heat in their properties or shut off the water supply and drain all systems of water. If keeping the heat on is your preferred method, then it is important to complete periodic property inspections to ensure that there aren’t any leaks that could lead to the “constant or repeated seepage” exclusion.

Lastly, if your property has an awning or patio, make sure you know whether or not your policy covers losses to those items stemming from the weight of ice, snow, or sleet. A lot of vacant dwelling policies exclude coverage for these particular situations, so don’t be caught off guard if bad weather hits your area.

Real estate can be a great investment, but owners must be vigilant about properly insuring and maintaining their properties to ensure full insurance protection throughout the winter season. Be sure to speak with your local independent insurance agent to review your program and discuss what exclusions or limitations may apply to your properties.

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