I.I.I. outlines what winter-related damage is covered by standard policies
Posted: Friday, March 6, 2009 8:01 pm
As the East Coast digs out from this week’s severe winter weather, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reminds residents to check their property for damage from melting ice and snow and to review their insurance policy for covered damages.
This late winter storm has caused damage to properties and vehicles from sleet, ice and snow. A significant amount of damage has also been caused by downed trees.
Winter storms accounted for 7.9 percent of catastrophe losses nationwide from 1988-2007, with total catastrophes losses from winter storms averaging more than $1 billion a year over that period, according to ISO’s Property Claims Services (PCS). In 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for about 22.4 percent of all homeowners insurance losses in the country. The average water damage and freezing claim was $5,531 in 2007, the most recent year for which there are figures.
Standard homeowners and business insurance policies provide coverage for a wide range of winter-related disasters such as losses incurred by burst pipes, ice dams and wind damage, as well as building collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow.
If a tree hits a home or other insured structure, such as a detached garage, standard home insurance policies provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure, the contents within and the costs associated with removing the tree.
Home and business insurance typically cover for “ice damming,” a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house, damaging ceilings and walls.
Automobile accidents resulting from slippery weather are covered under a standard auto insurance policy. Damage to vehicles from falling branches or other debris is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of the policy.
“Homeowners, motorists and business owners who have suffered losses need to contact their insurance company or agent as soon as possible to start the claims filing process,” said Loretta Worters, vice president with the I.I.I.
With temperatures dropping, it is important to keep pipes from freezing by keeping your home at least 65 degrees, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The temperature inside the walls where pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves, so temperatures lower than 65 degrees may not keep pipes from freezing. Ideally, the attic should be five to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air.
“Everyone should know how to shut their water off,” said Wendy Rose of IBHS. “If water freezes and pipes burst, time is of the essence to keep damage to a minimum and prevent it from becoming a personal financial disaster.”
For more information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.
For more information on consumer safety tips and homeowner winter weather preparations, go to the IBHS Web site.
Published in The Messenger 3.6.09