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Protect Your Home Against Ice Dams

With energy costs rising, you probably have already sealed any cracks and drafts around your windows and doors to make your home more energy efficient, but have you considered the financial impact of heat loss through your ceilings? While drafts around doors and windows will cost a few more dollars in heating bills, heat loss through your rood can result in thousands of dollars in damage. Why? The answer is ice damming.

Ice damming happens when snow on your roof begins to melt and freezes before it has a chance to run off. Usually, this is caused by warm air leaking from your house into your attic. The warm air heats the roof's surface and causes the snow to melt. As the water runs down your roof, it freezes near the roof's edge and an ice dam starts to form. This process repeats itself a few times and eventually creates a dam made of ice that prevents water from draining away. Inevitably, this water backs up under the shingles and into your home.

The key to preventing ice dams is to make sure your attic is properly insulated so that the warm air stays in your home and the cold air in your attic. Experts recommend having a minimum of 8 inches of R20 insulation on your attic floor. However, insulation alone may not prevent ice damming. The heat that escapes from light or ceiling fixtures, attic access hatches, exhaust fan systems, chimneys or other perforations in your ceiling can increase the risk of damming.

Here's what you can do to prevent ice dams or minimize the damage it causes.

PREVENTING AN ICE DAM

- Ensure that your attic is adequately insulated

- From inside the home, seal any perforations in the ceiling

- Ensure your soffit vents are not blocked by insulation

- Take measures to draw more air into the attic through the gable and eave vents

- Keep roof vents free of snow so cold air can circulate in your attic

- If you are installing a new roof, have the contractor install roof felt or install heating cables as an interim measure

- If you suspect your home is susceptible to ice damming, consult an expert who can use diagnostic tools to identify problem areas providing opportunity to prevent damage from occurring

WHAT TO DO IF AN ICE DAM OCCURS

- Consult an expert, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE, should you climb out on your roof to inspect or attempt to remove the ice dam yourself

- Take pictures and call us

- Remove any damaged contents and move any undamaged contents out of harm's way

- Contact a local restoration contractor to inspect and take immediate and necessary preventative action
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Protect Your Home From Water Damage And Sewer Back-up

Breezing through the doors of your new sixth-floor condo, you hear a dripping sound and spot a horrifying wet stain on the ceiling. Yikes! It's leaking onto your new leather couch! You're 6 floors above the nearest storm drain, how could sewer backup insurance possibly cover your losses?

When it comes to sewer backup situations, most property owners think of the black sludge that covers a basement after a sump pump is outrun by a severe rainstorm. However, even if your home is nowhere near ground level, sewer back-up insurance can cover your costs if escaping water damages your property. Without such protection, you could find yourself in a mess-both literally and financially!

Sewer backup insurance typically covers your losses or damage caused by water that has accidentally escaped from a sewer, drain, storm drain, sump, septic tank, eaves-trough or downspout. Many property insurance policies limit or exclude coverage for these types of losses.

Whether you own or rent your home, adding a sewer backup endorsement to your property policy can cover the cost of damages and clean up after this type of disaster.

Talk to us. We'll explain what your policy covers and help provide protection that's right for you!

3 SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HELP AVOID WATER DAMAGE LOSSES

1. Place downspouts on the outside of your home.

2. Install window wells on basement windows.

3. Check to make sure your sump pump is in working 
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Is Your House Properly Insured During Renovations?

Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or prefer to pay a professional contractor to renovate, you will need to consider some things before you start. Your first call regarding your renovation should be to your insurance broker; you need to clarify your existing coverage and what coverage is available to purchase during the renovations. In your conversation, different obstacles might come up with your current policy, such as limited coverage for being under construction, no coverage for materials/tools or concerns around potential changes to by-laws in your area.

There are many options that you can consider to cover your home during renovations: a builders’ risk policy, an endorsement for coverage while under construction, added and/or by law coverage to name a few. Also, you need to understand if you are hiring a friend or contractor, what the implications are for you as the homeowner, and what the liability section of your policy will cover. What happens if a worker is injured on the job in your home?

Are you planning on increasing the footprint of your home during the renovation? It is important that your insurance broker is aware of any changes to your home, as this impacts your replacement coverage amount. For instance, your unfinished basement could cost $150 per square foot to replace while your finished basement could be $250 per square foot or higher.

Were you also aware that home renovations could affect the price that you pay for insurance? Upgrading your roof, furnace, plumbing or electrical could reduce the cost of your insurance.

Remember to contact your insurance broker prior to your renovations and again after your renovation is complete to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home. According to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association, property losses from fires in one and two family homes during construction or major renovations increased 42% to $199 million from $140 million between 2002 and 2005. You need to verify that you are properly insured and don’t leave the insurance coverage to chance.