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The best storm preparation requires more than just buying milk and eggs.

Winter weather can be scary, especially when you're not prepared. But if you follow a few simple tips, stay indoors and off the roads, you can keep yourself, your family and your home safe during even the worst winter storms. And who knows? You may even enjoy a good snow day.


How to Prepare Before a Winter Storm

While storms can't always be predicted with 100% accuracy, most major winter storms can be forecast with enough notice so that shoppers can get their essentials. Don't wait until you see the first snowflake to begin preparing for a winter storm. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Set your home temperature to at least 65 degrees. While you want to save money on heat, especially if you're away, you also need to make sure your pipes don't freeze and expand, causing connecting faucets and pipes to freeze and break.
  • Get your vehicle ready. Fill the gas and wiper fluid tanks to full, make sure the tires are properly inflated, and your car has been tuned up and is running smoothly before you leave. When temperatures drop, so does battery power, so make sure your battery has sufficient voltage, amperage, and reserve capacity, or replace it before you go. Consider installing heavy-duty winter windshield wipers and using winter-specific washer fluid.
  • To keep your home's vital systems powered and running when the power goes off, consider a standby or permanently installed generator and a battery backup. Due to carbon monoxide dangers, never use a generator indoors or inside an attached garage. Generators you should consider: 
    • Automatically turn on when the power fails
    • Self-tests at least once a week
    • Includes all equipment which meets UL (Underwriters Laboratories) standard or another accepted industry standard
    • Has sufficient capacity to at least maintain the critical systems noted above or to backup the entire electrical system of your home
    • Dual use for natural gas and liquid propane or gasoline
  • Maintain an emergency supply kit that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather radio or local television and radio stations for updates about the storm and for bulletins about school or office closings or State of Emergency announcements.
  • Purchase rock salt or an environmentally safe alternative to melt ice on your driveway, porch and walkways.
  • Have your snow shovels, snow blowers and other equipment ready. Purchase gas for your blower.
  • If you have a fireplace or wood stove, stock up on firewood in case your heat goes off. Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Have lanterns or flashlights ready in case the power goes off.
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Get your car ready by topping off anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid and gas.
  • Have your furnace winterized and change filters. Get your fireplace and chimney checked too.
  • Have non-perishable foods on-hand that don't require cooking.

Special Cold Weather Guidance for Southern States

  • If you have a pier and beam foundation, cover the vents during the cold weather.
  • Cover your hose bibs and spickets.
    • Use a pool noodle, towel, or purchase outdoor faucet covers from your hardware store or online. 
  • Locate your water shut-offs, e.g., in Texas, the main is usually on the street or in the alley.  
    • Many require a meter key, so find yours now. You can buy a new one from most hardware stores. 
    • Often, there is a secondary shut-off closer to the house.
      • Clear away debris so it’s easily accessible if you need to access quickly.
  • Prepare your pool. 
    • Run pool pumps continuously when temperatures are near or below freezing. 
    • You don't need to run your heater because moving water is not likely to freeze. 
    • Run water feature pumps continuously and keep valves open. 
    • Alternately, you can cover and drain the pump and pipes.

What to Do During a Winter Storm

Remain calm during a winter storm. The more you plan ahead, the easier it is to stay safe. If possible, monitor NOAA Weather radio or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuations. These other steps can help keep your family safe and your home protected during a winter storm:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Don't travel unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you do go outdoors, wear shoes or boots with traction and plenty of layers. A hat will prevent you from losing body heat.
  • Don't lift heavy snow. If you have to, lift with your legs, so you don't put too much strain on your back.
  • If the power goes out, take the time to reconnect with your family by playing cards or board games or just talking to each other.
  • Check on older loved ones or neighbors.
  • Continue to monitor NOAA Weather radio or local television and radio stations for updates about the storm and any school or office closings or State of Emergency announcements.

5 Ways to Prevent Frozen (and Bursting) Pipes

Please click here to know more about preventing pipes freezing.

What to Do after a Winter Storm

Once the storm is over, wait for local authorities to indicate that it's safe to venture outdoors. Be sure to avoid roads that have not been plowed and be careful of black ice. These other tips can help you and your family to stay safe following a winter storm:

  • Keep drains and gutters free of debris that might restrict water flow and drainage, insulate light fixtures in the ceiling below any unheated attic space, and consider installing a rooftop snow-melt system to keep ice off the roof and gutters.
  • Avoid driving if possible, giving workers time to plow all roads.
  • Stay indoors to avoid hypothermia. If you must go outdoors, dress in layers and wear shoes with traction, as well as a hat and gloves.
  • Locate and clear out your nearest fire hydrant. Clear a path of three feet around the fire hydrant as well as a path from the street to the hydrant. This saves valuable time for the responding firefighters if the fire hydrant is needed.
  • If you lost power and don't have heat for more than a few hours, try sheltering with a neighbor or local family member who may have a generator. If you need to drive, try to avoid any unplowed roads and watch out for black ice.
  • If you’re a Chubb policyholder who sustained damage from a winter storm, click here to begin the claims process.

This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.

Common Personal Insurance Coverages

Following a Winter Storm
Because most of Chubb's Homeowner policies provide "all risk" coverage, physical damage to your home or other structure on the property caused by a winter storm may be a covered loss. We may also pay the following extra coverages (the base deductible or a special deductible may apply):

Additional Living Expenses: If a covered loss to your house, other permanent structure or contents makes the dwelling(s) uninhabitable, we may provide coverage for a reasonable increase in your normal living expenses, which could include:

  • Temporary residence,
  • Hotels, meals, transportation, etc.
  • Pet kenneling,
  • Replacing lost fair rental value, or
  • Other increases to normal living expenses, as described in the policy.

However, power outages that do not result from a covered loss to your property will not trigger Additional Living Expenses.

Temporary Precautionary Repairs:
 After a covered loss, we may provide coverage for temporary precautionary repairs to protect the home, contents, or other structures from further damage.

Debris Removal:
 We may pay for the cost to demolish damaged property and remove debris.

Forced Evacuation:
 If you are forced to evacuate your home or other permanent structure as a direct result of a covered loss or a reasonable threat of a loss covered under the policy, we may cover the reasonable increase in normal living expenses for up to 30 days. This might include hotel and meal expenses or kenneling for pets. Under some policies, this coverage only applies if a civil authority has forced you to evacuate your home.

Tree Removal:
 Unless covered elsewhere under the policy, we may pay the reasonable expenses you incur to remove trees fallen due to wind, hail, sleet, or weight of ice or snow. Special coverage limits will apply.

Food Spoilage:
 If you have coverage for Contents, we may cover the cost of spoiled food and wine caused by power interruption. Special coverage limits and deductibles apply in most states.

Please review your policy for complete details of the coverage contained in your policy.

The content of this document is presented for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice. Insureds are responsible for safety and risk control of their premises. Chubb may exercise its right to inspect premises from time to time under insurance policy terms and conditions, but it does not have any obligation to oversee or monitor an insured’s safety and risk control practices. Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by Federal Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates. All products may not be available in all states. Surplus lines insurance sold only through licensed surplus lines producers. Chubb Limited, the parent company of Chubb, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb, 202 Halls Mill Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889