PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a week of cold weather and measurable rain, the Northwest Insurance Council is advising Pacific Northwesterners to take some preventative measures to protect their homes from fall and winter weather conditions.

According to the council, many insurance policies will cover unexpected losses such as a down tree or frozen pipes that burst. However, they are less likely to cover damage that could have been avoided with proper landscaping or cleanup. The potential damage could be even worse for homes or businesses based in Washington and Oregon which see lots of leaves, rain and occasionally snow throughout the fall and winter.

“That’s why it’s important to talk with your insurance agent or company about your
coverage, and to make sure your home or business are ready for winter weather,”
NW Insurance Council President, Kenton Brine, said in the release.

The council reports that one in 35 insured homes file property damage claims as a result of severe weather like strong winds or hailing. In cases of water damage or freezing, one in 60 insured homes file property damage claims. It also reports that, on average, property and damage liability claims were $13,962 between 2016 and 2020.

NW Insurance Council and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Gave a few recommendations for home and business owners who want to prevent any weather-related damage this cold, rainy season.

  • Clear your gutters of leaves and other debris, or invest in a gutter guard, to stop any ice dams from forming.
  • Pay close attention to your trees. One of Portland’s board-certified master arborists told KOIN 6 that any wounds, cavities or dead branches on trees can cause them to fall on houses — if not on power lines or cars.
  • Keep the temperature in your house above 65° F. Anything lower than that could lead to frozen pipes.
  • Monitor the heating sources in your home. Furnaces, chimneys and boilers should be checked on a yearly basis to prevent fires.

See the full list of what you can do to your home, and money, here.

“Property insurance is a partnership between the property owner and the insurance
company,” Brine explained. “Your insurance policy obligates your insurer to pay for damage to your home or business from wind, theft, fire and other hazards – but most policies also have exclusions for damage that could have been avoided by routine maintenance.”