Massive snowfall or a blizzard can cause significant damage to your home and property. Once a winter storm advisory or warning has been issued for your area, you must hurry to gather essentials and bunker in place, or safely venture to your next destination, if possible. As roads will be very dangerous, it is best to leave as early as possible if you must travel.

Gallagher will help you understand the risks and help you prepare your home and property for winter storms and extreme cold.

Before Winter Begins: Review your Policies and Coverages

The time to start talking with your Gallagher representative is before the winter season begins. Winter can vary depending on location and can run from October to April. It’s never too early to be prepared and consider planning for a snowstorm. You may take the following guidelines to help mitigate property damage before a winter storm and extreme cold occurs.

Winter Storm Precautions and Preparations

Homeowners and property owners can take the necessary precautions to stay safe when a winter storm is approaching.

  • Know the area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme cold and blizzards during the winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.
  • Double check your supplies. When entering the winter season, have ample de-icer, rock salt, or sand available. Be sure equipment is ready for use. Be sure you have ample shovels.
  • Insulate, caulk or weather strip your home to keep out the cold. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Heed weather advisories and warnings. Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Equip your vehicles. Be sure vehicles are ready for winter weather, including storms. Consider adding items such as jumper cables, sand, flashlights, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Also, make sure to keep the gas tank full.
  • Know the terms. Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.

Winter Storm and Extreme Cold Home & Property Checklist

Take necessary steps to prepare once an advisory has been issued and a winter storm is imminent. Once you have a disaster plan, it is especially important to diligently follow a plan when temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. In addition to your winter storm home and property preparedness checklist, here are additional items to consider:

  • Use a de-icer, monitor walks and stairs at established intervals to make sure they remain safe.
  • Keep walkways, driveways and doorways clear of ice and snow.
  • Ensure exterior faucets have been turned off and wrapped.
  • Position heaters, snow blowers, generators and cold weather equipment where they will most likely be used.
  • Ensure water cut offs are accessible.
  • If you have a tenant situation, remind them of proper heating methods.
  • Check vacant buildings or spaces to ensure the heat is on, so pipes do not rupture.
  • If carbon monoxide alarms sound or if there is a smell of gas, contact the gas company immediately.
  • If power failure occurs or lines go down due to heavy ice, stay away from them and phone the electric company.
  • If there is a danger of collapse due to snow or ice in any area of the building, evacuate the space.
  • Ensure vehicles and equipment are filled with gas.
  • Stay off roads, if at all possible.
  • Limit time outside – if you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling or plowing snow.

Filing an Insurance Claim after a Winter Storm

You may have suffered damage as a result of a winter storm or extreme cold. The best way to notify your claim handler of an insurance claim is to immediately and directly report it. It is important that your claim handler receive this information as quickly as possible so they can begin the claim resolution process. If you need assistance reporting your insurance claim due to a winter storm, please contact your Gallagher representative.

Claims Contacts for Home & Property

Starting an Insurance Claim

In order for a claim to be initiated and an investigation to begin, the claim handler must have as much detail as possible. The following is recommended:

  • Photographs and/or video of the damage are extremely helpful
  • Include a preliminary list of damages
  • Secure your location(s) to prevent further loss and begin to sort damaged items from the undamaged items

Claims Process for Insurance: What to Expect

Throughout the insurance claim investigation process, you may have various coverage-related questions due to damage from a winter storm. Please reach out to your Gallagher representative with specific policy and claim questions. During this high-volume claim reporting period, you should anticipate the following:

  • The adjuster assignment and initial contact may take some time. Some insurers may use adjusters under contact rather than staff adjusters, so the adjuster’s contact information may appear different than expected.
  • Access to the affected areas may be limited for quite a great length of time due to blocked access roads.
  • Competition for labor and materials may be high, which could impact the timeframe and costs associated with repair and remediation.
  • Working together with your claim adjusters closely. If you have questions regarding the resolution process, your Gallagher representative is here to assist and ensure you are in control of the claim progress.

Your insurance company website will contain important information about how to handle claims and manage losses. We have listed many insurance companies in the event you do not have the contact information readily available.