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Tara Reardon

Are you prepared for winter’s weather?

By Tara Reardon

New Hampshire's winter can be fierce. Homeowners should take precautions to protect their house and family.

No matter what kind of house you have, there are things you can do to guard against the damages New Hampshire’s sometimes-severe winter storms can bring.

Here are some tips from the New Hampshire Insurance Department on how to protect your family and your home, and, if your property is damaged, how to work with your insurance company.

Snow and icicles cling to roofProtect your home

Some winter storms include high winds, so bring inside or secure any outdoor items that might be blown around. This will prevent two types of damage—to things that may fall and things that might be damaged by flying debris.

Snow and ice can pile up quickly on low-slope and flat roofs. For your safety, use a snow rake with a long handle (so you can use it from the ground) or hire a snow removal contractor. Be sure to evaluate the amount of snow and ice on your roof after each storm.

Never run generators inside your home. Exhaust fumes may cause fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators should be outdoors and at least 10 to 15 feet away from any doors.

Know what you have: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a downloadable home inventory checklist and a home inventory app, both free. Creating a home inventory now will give you an account of your household items and their value you’ll need if your home is damaged.

What to do if your home is damaged:

  • Gather your policy number and other relevant information, and call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. Cooperate fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make any repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property, such as covering broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls. But don't make any permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the property and you agreed on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If the damage is so severe that you must stay elsewhere, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.

What types of damage are likely to be covered by my homeowners insurance?

  • Wind
  • Damage to the exterior of your home or other structures from wind-driven rain
  • Tree damage to your home, garage, or other property
  • Other falling objects
  • The collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow
  • Damage to your home’s interior from ice dam or ice backup

Frozen pipes might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there. Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.

What types of damage are not likely to be covered by a standard homeowners’ policy?

  • Damage as the result of a flood
  • Removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not damage your home or other property, or block your driveway)
  • Food spoilage due to a power outage
  • Water damage from backed-up drains or sewers

Some insurers offer endorsements (additional protection that may be purchased) for certain things not covered in a standard homeowners’ policy. Check with your agent or company to see if additional coverage makes sense for you.

Additional resources and information

Contact the New Hampshire Insurance Department with any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage at (800) 852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email.

Tara Reardon is Director of ROC-NH™.

ROC-NH™ is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider.
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC.