More Winter Storms: Are You Ready, Or Do You Just Think You’re Ready?

winter storm car insurance

Photo from Chance Fry

A lethal winter storm has left much of the southern United States stunned and in the last 12 hours, has been wreaking havoc on the northeastern part of the country.

Thus far, 49 of the nation’s 50 states have had some degree of snowfall. On the East Coast, the weather has been blamed for at least 21 deaths, according to USA Today.

The news site also called air travel “a disaster,” stating a statistic from FlightStats.com that “more than 7,700 scheduled commercial flights were canceled across the USA.”

“I think we’re actually seeing a little more snow than we expected — and we expected a lot of snow,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Korty.

Home and property owners know all too well that the effects of a winter storm can linger long after the final flakes of snow have melted from the ground. With analysts and insurers alike warning of a rougher year for catastrophe losses, it looks like the first phase of these pessimistic predictions are underway. What can you do to look out for your own well-being as these storms continue?

Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) president Robert Hartwig recommends that consumers get educated regarding their home and auto policies since those are the two most likely to be affected by winter weather.

 

Re: Auto Insurance Policies

The I.I.I. reminds that PDL, or property damage liability coverage, can protect the insured in the event that “you should skid on an icy road and hit someone’s fence.”

“It includes damage caused to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures,” the group said in a statement, adding that PDL protects both the insured driver and anyone driving their car (with permission).

Adding collision could be especially important because this optional coverage pays for damage to your car “resulting from a collision with another car, object or as a result of flipping over,” while also covering damage caused by potholes, the I.I.I. release stated.

Last but not least — as far as auto is concerned anyway — is coverage for physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind, flooding, fallen ice, or tree limbs. These fall under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.

Before navigating a slushy or frozen road, it’s best to make sure that these coverages are in effect.

 

Re: Homeowners Insurance Policies

The weight of snow and ice can continue to cause damage even after the precipitation stops. This can negatively affect the house and its contents, creating a collapse, which would be covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.

Likewise, melting snow that seeps into a home upward from the ground is considered flooding and would be covered by flood insurance. This coverage falls under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program “and a few private insurers,” I.I.I. notes. “Federal flood insurance is available to both homeowners and renters. Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies.”

Damages to the roof, structure, or contents, caused by wind is covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy. Also included, are structures separate from the home but still located on the property.

Falling tree limbs, ice, and debris removal (up to around $500) are generally covered as are freezing conditions like burst pipes and ice dams. Ice dams occur when water fails to properly drain from gutters and other areas of the house. This can produce seepage into the home. While this is typically covered by homeowners insurance, you may have to show that you have taken proper maintenance steps.

 

In Summary

In life, you never know what challenges will lie ahead, whether at home or on the road. Nature is an uncontrollable, unstoppable force, and your only way to fight back is knowledge. That’s why we suggest looking at your area’s key risk factors as well as what necessities your home and auto policies are lacking. You can’t control what a winter storm or any other natural disaster might bring, but you can be ready.

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