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Consumer Alert - Winter Storm

Winter Storm Stella has passed, but the extent of the damage she inflicted may not yet be evident. Commissioner Miller has some tips for those whose homes or cars may have sustained damage from the storm.

It’s important to review your insurance policy so that you are aware of the coverage you have in the event that your property is damaged. Most standard homeowners insurance policies will cover damage resulting from winter storms, including collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow, water damage resulting from burst pipes or ice jams in gutters, and damage from fallen trees or tree limbs. Be sure to check with your insurance company before removing fallen trees, as they may help to cover the cost.

Before you make any changes to your car, home, or property, you should first take pictures of the damage so that you can provide your insurance company with the proper documentation of the loss. You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident or a winter storm resulting in property damage.

You should only make temporary repairs to your home to prevent further damage until a claims adjuster is able to view your property. If you make permanent repairs before a claims adjuster is able to inspect the property and make recommendations, your claim could be denied which will leave you responsible for covering the costs of repair.

Driving in winter weather can be hazardous, so it’s important to be aware of any limitations in coverage on your auto insurance policy. The type of damage that your policy covers will depend on the type of coverage you purchased.

Damage to another person’s property – including vehicles and structures such as lamp posts, buildings, and fences – as a result of you losing control of your vehicle will be covered by your policy up to the property damage liability limit you purchased, but damage to your own vehicle for an accident in which you are at-fault will only be covered if you purchased collision coverage. If your car is damaged by falling ice, tree limbs, or flooding, this will be covered only if you purchased comprehensive coverage. Note that collision and comprehensive coverage often have deductibles that you will have to pay before insurance kicks in.

Make sure to clear your car of any snow and ice from windshields, rear and side windows, and head and tail lights before you start driving. It’s also a good idea to remove snow from the top of your vehicle, as debris from your vehicle could cause unsafe conditions for those driving near you.

If your claim is denied, you should review the terms of your policy. You can also file appeals with your insurer’s claims manager.

Questions? Contact our Consumer Services Bureau online or by calling 1-877-881-6388.