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Something Old, Something Blue, Something Cold, Something New: Preventing Freezing Pipes & Other Winter Claims

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Here at vipHomeLink, we work closely with homeowners insurance agencies to help prevent common insurance claims. In almost every interview, we've asked our insurance partners, "What is the most common claim your policyholders submit?"

The answer is always, "Frozen pipes." 

It's easy to see why. The Insurance Information Institute found that almost a quarter of all homeowners insurance claims are water damage and freezing related, and approximately one in 50 insured homes had one such claim in 2018. With the average cost per claim more than $10,000, homeowners can save time and money and gain peace of mind through prevention.

Prevent rather than react.

That's why we reached out to Justin Lanier of Douglas & Lanier Agency, Inc. Justin has been a part of the insurance industry for more than 12 years and works closely with his clients to help them prevent frozen pipes. Find out how you can prevent water damage in your home this winter below! 

Cold temperatures and old homes

Update your pipes to prevent breaking.

Frozen pipes are generally caused by the perfect storm of older homes and cold temperatures.

"Some of the older homes usually have maintenance issues," says Justin. "Over time, the piping material wears out. Temperature fluctuation deteriorates it even faster."

Because of this wear and tear, Justin encourages his clients to upgrade to PEX or cross-linked polyethylene pipes. These are blue (our something blue!) and red piping (for hot and cold water) that are cheaper than copper, easier to install, and more flexible. That means they're less likely to burst.

Bottom line: If you've found yourself having to thaw frozen pipes in the past, consider hiring a plumber to explore your options to replace your current piping with PEX.

New smart home tech: peace-of-mind prevention 

Smart solutions can help save your home.

As homes are getting smarter, so are the home's systems. Smart water devices can help prevent frozen pipes in winter or mitigate the damage once a frozen pipe burst.

"We had some third-party resources that provided water sensors at one time," said Justin.

Smart water devices come in two types – sensors around your home in areas where a leak might occur or a device that's placed onto the water main in the home and monitors the flow. If the sensors detect water or the flow changes in the pipe, you'll receive an alert on your phone.

Update your policy to prevent a denied claim.

Automatic water shut-off valves take detection to the next level by automatically shutting off the water coming into your home if a leak occurs, thus preventing further damage.

While some carriers provide discounts for smart water devices, you should consider them for another reason.

"I don't usually take advantage of the discounts as much as I do the peace of mind," says Justin.

Homeowners can find themselves in trouble if they don't maintain their safeguards or keep their insurance policy up to date.

"Like a central burglar and fire alarm, you can add a discount for that," says Justin, "but the moment the homeowner doesn't let their agent know that they've not renewed their monthly subscription and something happens, there's a possibility of a denied claim there."

Bottom line: Smart water devices are great for peace of mind and helping to mitigate water damage when pipes burst. 

Homeowners insurance and water damage claims 

Talk to your insurance agent about what's covered in your policy.

If you're wondering, "Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from frozen pipes?" the answer is – yes. Homeowners insurance policies generally cover "sudden and accidental" water damage.

However, home maintenance is essential to keeping your homeowners insurance. If the water damage occurs because of a homeowner's negligence, such as a poorly maintained water heater or smart water devices that aren't repaired, then a homeowners insurance claim can be denied.

Bottom line: If you ever have any questions about your insurance policy and claims, contact your insurance company to learn more. 

Quick ways to prevent pipes from freezing

Cold weather comes on quick!

Cold weather comes quick and fast, so before Jack Frost arrives, here are quick tips to keep your pipes intact.

  • Identify exposed piping that may be vulnerable to cold weather.
  • Apply heat tape to that section of the pipe to prevent freezing and bursting.
  • Routinely check your pipes running along exterior walls.
  • If you're concerned a pipe might be freezing, get some warm air on it with the help of a space heater or hair dryer.

Learn more about thawing frozen pipes and additional prevention tips in What to Do When Your Pipes Freeze & Prevention Tips.

Stay on top of home maintenance 

Winter brings many home hazards.

Frozen pipes aren't the only frequent winter home claim.

"I've had some ice damming on some residential homes with steeper pitch roofs," says Justin. Last March also brought strong winds and tornados that knocked down healthy trees.

To prevent these insurance claims, homeowners should look to clear their downspouts and trim back any long trim limbs.

"If you have any trees around your house, I also advise having a tree expert come out and see if they could project the way that it would fall," adds Justin. "If you just want to have that tree in your yard, be proactive."

vipHomeLink can help!

The vipHomeLink home management app sends personalized reminders to your phone with home maintenance tasks to help you prevent insurance claims. Our tailored recommendations help you add value to your home, and we also send weather alerts with expert-backed tips. These help you know when cold weather, snow, heavy rain, and other events are coming and how to prepare your home.

Know what to do and when to do it with vipHomeLink! Subscribe today with a monthly or annual membership.

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