Why do most property claims happen in the winter?

A woman sitting on the windowsill with a cup of tea looking out at her snow-covered neighbourhood.

Although insurance is a year-round business, we see spikes in certain claims throughout the year. A robust Canadian winter often means more property claims, usually in three distinct categories.

We’re breaking down what they are and what you can do to help prevent a claim this winter.

3 common winter claim categories

When you consider the toll that winter might take on a house, you might think of gusty, icy winds knocking down trees onto properties or thick slabs of snow damaging the exterior of a house. And while things like that certainly do happen, there are three more common claim scenarios.


Winter weather drives most of us indoors where we want to get cozy, particularly during the holiday season. We’re more likely to pull out decorative items with lights, spark up lots of candles, flip on portable heaters in under-insulated areas, curl up under electric blankets and keep fireplaces and woodstoves stoked. We also tend to spend more time in the kitchen, brewing tea or leaving a pot of soup, stew or sauce burbling on the stove for hours at a time. These are all common culprits of house fires.

Tips to prevent this type of claim

  • Never leave a fire, portable heating device or cooking unattended
  • Extinguish lit candles as soon as you leave the table or room
  • Unplug decorative lights at night and when you’re away from the home
  • Ensure your smoke alarm is in good working order - replace batteries twice a year or as otherwise recommended by the manufacturer
  • Have a fire extinguisher in a prominent place - and ensure all members of the household know how to use it


Winter brings with it inclement weather and increased precipitation in the form of snow, ice and rain. A big snow buildup can overwhelm roofs, causing damage or collapse. And rapidly melting snow on a sunny day can cause sewers to back up and flow back into neighbouring houses. Finally, if the temperature dips too low in the house, any water in pipes will expand and may cause them to explode, potentially causing catastrophic water damage.

Tips to prevent this type of claim

  • Invest in preventative leak and shut off devices
  • If you’re leaving for more than a few days, shut your water off and turn on all faucets for a few minutes to drain them of water
  • Keep your house at a consistent, heated temperature in the winter


Wintertime brings holidays which may see people leaving their property for an extended period of time. For many snowbirds, this can extend to three months or more. Would-be thieves are adept at tracking the regular activity of a targeted home. They’ll strike when they know homeowners will be away and there are no obvious signs that a home is occupied and has a monitored security alarm.

Tips to prevent this type of claim

  • Install a monitored home security system
  • If going out of town for more than a few days:
    • Put sensor lights near doors outside
    • Leave some interior lights on timers
    • Cancel subscription deliveries or ask a neighbour to pick up mail and other packages
    • Have someone monitor your home at least once a week

While many insurance claims are the result of an unexpected event that is not easily preventable, there are plenty that could have been avoided with the right proactive action. It’s up to you to protect your home from the hazards associated with winter.

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