Prepping for the big melt
Published March 7, 2015 - 1:00am
Last Updated March 7, 2015 - 1:06am
Even as we continue to deal with all the snow and ice from winter storms, we can look forward to warmer temperatures and spring, officially due to arrive in a couple of weeks. But there is work to do around our homes, whether the snow is still dense and icy or starting to melt.
“There is a lot we can do now to start thinking about getting prepared for that big melt,” says Amanda Dean, vice-president of the Atlantic region for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Maybe take a look at where the water flows or would flow away from your foundation. Is there a tunnel or a little drainage line you perhaps could dig out with an ice pick so that when the snow and ice start to melt, the water will flow away from your foundation? Make sure it also will flow away from your neighbour’s foundation.
You want to watch out carefully for potential hazards overhead as well, such as large icicles that may fall quickly when they start to melt. Can you safely remove them or call in a professional, especially if they are above a door or along other areas where they could fall and hurt someone or damage your property or vehicle? Icicles also can be a sign of ice damming, another cause for concern.
“One thing that people can do is pop the hatch in their attic and take a look,” says Dean.
“Is there excessive frost accumulation or staining on the underside of the roof?
“That could be an indication that you may have some ice damming occurring, and that is always a great opportunity to call a professional to help clear your roof.”
Still trying to clear snow and ice from your driveway and walkways? If someone slips and falls and gets hurt on your property, you could be liable. Of course, you also want to be careful that you don’t hurt yourself in a fall or by trying to remove the heavy accumulation of snow and ice. But you want to try to do your best to take precautions, whether it is hiring someone to help clear your driveway and walkways or doing what you can to ensure there is good traction — for example, putting down salt, sand or crusher dust.
If you have reached the point that you’re thinking about spending much of next winter in a warmer climate, you will want to talk to your home insurance representative about stipulations in your policy. Most residential policies cover sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes, but damage may not be covered if the escape of water is caused by freezing while you are gone for a prolonged period and have not arranged for someone to check the premises. Even if you just go on vacation for a week or two, you may want to ask someone you trust to go in and check your home for any sign of problems.
Whether you stay home or go away, it always is good to know what your insurance policy covers and does not cover. For example, generally speaking, home insurance typically covers damage caused by snow, hail or wind, such as damage caused by falling branches or trees or flying debris, but water damage caused by accumulation of ice or snow on the roof is covered only if specific coverage has been bought. Coverage for liability if someone slips and falls on your property is typically part of a normal home insurance policy, although the amount may vary, and you want to know what your limits are.
What if ice chunks or branches fall on your vehicle and damage it while it is parked in the driveway? Property damage done to the vehicle usually is covered if your automobile insurance policy includes comprehensive or all perils coverage on the vehicle. But that is additional coverage, not mandatory coverage, so if you don’t have that, you would not be covered, says Dean.
You can find general information about home and auto insurance by visiting the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s website at www.ibc.ca/ns (there also is a consumer information line: 1-800-565-7189, ext. 228). For specifics about your own policies and coverage, it is a good idea to talk with your insurance broker or agent.