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This week much of the country has been frozen solid due to a phenomenon known as the polar vortex: arctic air that has come further south due to changes in the jet stream. Not only are cars frozen shut and water on walks and streets frozen solid, but the risk of frozen pipes rears its ugly head. With temperatures at or below zero with wind chills into the negative numbers, claims for frozen pipes are bound to start rolling in.

One past question about frozen pipes concerned the setting of the insured’s thermostat: 42 degrees. The pipes froze, and the question was whether or not the homeowners policy had any requirements of keeping the property at a certain temperature. The answer is no; however, the policy does require the heat to be left on or, if the heat is turned off, the pipes to be drained of water. While there is no set temperature, 42 degrees is not far above freezing, and the Institute for Business and Home Safety recommends leaving the temperature no lower than 55 degrees, which seems to be standard among Internet sources. However, with no specified temperature, the carrier should cover the loss. Readers may want to advise insureds, however, to leave the heat at 55 degrees to ensure pipes do not freeze.

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