Winter Woes: Top Vacation Home Insurance Claims & How to Prevent Them
Eva Gregory

Winter Woes: Top Vacation Home Insurance Claims & How to Prevent Them

By Austin Tallman, CBIZ Senior Claims Specialist

You face unique risks each day as a vacation rental owner. Harsh winter weather elevates those risks with ice and snow build up, ice-covered tree limbs and walkways, and freezing pipes. Those risks lead to increased property damage and liability claims.

Let’s take a look at the top five winter vacation home insurance claims, and ways you can reduce the risk of having to file a claim.

Top Winter Claim #1: Frozen Pipes

Winter’s frigid temperatures lead to the most common and expensive vacation home claim - water damage caused by frozen pipes. During periods of vacancy, vacation rental homes are more likely to sustain water damage since issues may go unnoticed for a longer period of time.

Use pipe sleeves or heat tape to insulate pipes in areas that are susceptible to freezing, think garages, crawl space and basements. Take it step further by installing a water detection device like Flo that alerts you when a leak occurs.

Don’t forget to disconnect, drain and store outdoor hoses before the first freeze of the season. Close indoor valves that supply outdoor spigots.

If you close your property for the winter, shut off the main water valve, open up your faucets and drain your water lines. Download our free Winterizing Checklist to make sure your property is ready to rent when you return from the offseason.

Top Winter Claim #2: Fire

The chances of home fires in the winter are increased because of drier air, large gatherings and meals, and increased use of fireplaces and space heaters. Following correct maintenance and safety precautions is your best line of defense to prevent a fire. Most insurance carriers require operational fireplaces, chimneys, flues and wood-burning stoves to be cleaned and inspected annually.

Check out our blog on fireplace safety for detailed tips on how to keep you, your guests and your property safe.

Top Winter Claim #3: Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Slips and falls account for millions of hospital visits each year. According to the CDC, $12 billion is paid by private or out-of-pocket payers for non-fatal fall injuries each year.  Snow and ice contribute to an increase of slip and fall injuries. If one happens on your property, you could be held liable.

Reduce the risk of a winter slip and fall by keeping your walkways, driveway and outdoor steps free from ice and snow. Apply a commercial-grade ice melt product to melt the ice, provide traction and prevent refreezing and black ice.

If you’re unable to clear snow and ice at your property, consider hiring a professional snow removal service or property management group.

Top Winter Claim #4: Property Damage from Snow and Ice

Snow and ice can provide an idyllic setting, but it can also wreak havoc on your vacation rental home. Heavy snow and ice can weigh down weak tree branches causing them to fall, possibly injuring someone or causing damage to your vacation rental property. When weather allows, have weak branches and dead or dying trees removed.

Ice dams are another common problem caused by snow and ice. Ice dams are formed in your gutters when snow and ice melt and refreeze. Ice damns can cause water runoff to back up, potentially seeping through your roof causing damaged ceilings, walls, roof structure and more. Keeping your gutters clean can help prevent ice dams.

Top Winter Claim #5: Don’t Get Blown Away by Wind Damage

You may be surprised to learn that wind damage is a top claim source. Winter storms and changing weather can create massive gusts causing major property damage.

Remove anything outside that isn’t secured to the ground - furniture, shade umbrellas and play equipment. These items can become projectiles and cause serious damage to your property (or a neighbor’s).

Inspect your gutters, fence, shutters and home exterior for loose items and make repairs before the wind has a chance to damage them further.

Protect Your Property with Vacation Rental Insurance

Preventative measures can reduce your risk, but still claims happen. Vacation rental insurance can help protect you from these common winter claims and more with property damage, liability coverage and loss of income protection.

Talk to a CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance expert today. With a free one-on-one consultation, they can walk through your current coverage to ensure it is the best coverage for your unique property. Don’t let winter woes get the best of you.

Have Claims Questions?

I will be going live on Facebook on Wednesday, February 26, 2 p.m. (CST) to answer general claims questions. If you have one for me, you can submit it here. Be sure to tune in!


Austin Tallman has been in the insurance industry for 9 years. Serving as a claims specialist for 6 years, he has seen a wide variety of claims both in Commercial Property and General Liability.

 

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. In an actual claim situation, coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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About Us

CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.