Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Winter Insurance Warning--Freeze Risk

Here in eastern Ontario it is that time of year where outside temperatures are dropping below zero.  With freezing temperatures there is a risk of bursting pipes if the an apartment or house should lose sufficient heat to prevent the pipes from freezing.  An obvious solution is to make sure that the heat is turned on at a sufficient level to keep all parts of the home warm.  In this regard, people should realize that water pipes often run along walls, sometimes outside walls and usually inside walls.  Temperatures in these spots are often lower than in the middle of a room.  The point being, that turning down the heat for any extended period of time may lead to significantly lower temperatures around water pipes that lead to freezing and bursting.

The point in this blog today is to highlight a significant insurance requirement that people don't normally realize is mandated by their insurer.  During the heating season the vast majority of insurance companies have rules about how often a home must be inspected for sufficient heat.  In most cases, where a home owner or tenant is away for more than 4 or 5 days, the insurer requires that arrangements are made for a responsible person to enter the home on a daily basis to make sure that there is sufficient heat.  If an insured fails to have their home inspected on a daily basis, and suffers a loss associated with a lack of heat (i.e. a burst water pipe), the insurance company will decline the claim arising from the water damage.  Losses arising from burst pipes or often in the tens of thousands of dollars if not more.

An alternative, allowed in many insurance policies, to daily inspection is for the homeowner or tenant to turn off the water supply in the house and drain the pipes.

If you have travel and vacation plans that will take you away from your home during the heating season  it would be a very good idea to check the requirements of your insurance policy or call your broker to ask what you should be doing to ensure that your insurance coverage is not voided in the event of an incident while you are away.

Michael K. E. Thiele
Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
Ottawa, Ontario

1 comment:

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About Michael Thiele

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Ottawa lawyer and partner at Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP.  Graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.  Called to the bar in Ontario in 1997.  Undergraduate degree at Colby College, Waterville Maine, U.S.A.