Notes from the Claims Desk


Presented by Safety Insurance:

The winter of 2015 produced record snow fall and extremely cold temperatures. This combination resulted in a catastrophic number of ice dam claims. With winter weather quickly approaching, now is a good time to prepare our homes and businesses to minimize winter weather threats. Taking a few preventative measures now will help your policyholders get through the upcoming winter.

Ice Dams

What is an ice dam? An ice dam is an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof, usually at the gutter. When interior heat melts the snow on the roof, the water will run down and refreeze at the roof’s edge, where temperatures are much cooler. Eventually, the ice builds up and blocks water from draining off of the roof. This, in turn, forces the water under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls of the house or other structure. Once an ice dam forms, the potential damage can be serious. Taking the following steps will decrease the likelihood that ice dams will form or, at least, will reduce their severity.

Keep the attic well ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
Keep the attic floor well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
If heavy snow does accumulate on the roof, have the snow removed from the outer edge.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup, which eventually will lead to pipes bursting at their weakest point, causing water damage to your home or business.

To keep water in pipes from freezing, take the following precautions:

Keep the temperature in your home or business above 65 degrees at all times.
Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer.
Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.


Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of house fires. With a few simple safety tips you can prevent most heating fires from occurring.

Have your furnace and oil tank serviced annually.
Have your wood stove inspected before seasonal use.
Keep the area around your heating system clear of debris and flammable materials.
Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
Install smoke and carbon dioxide detectors in your home and check the batteries twice a year.


An open flame easily can ignite anything that can burn. The following precautions will help prevent candle fires.

Do not leave lit candles unattended.
Have a flashlight ready during a power outage; never use a candle.
Keep candles at least 12 inches from any flammable materials.
Place candles in a holder on a sturdy uncluttered surface.