Now’s the Time to Check Coverage Before Winter Storms Begin
TOPEKA — The calendar shows we are heading toward the time of year when brisk winds, blowing snow and colder temperatures will become the norm. Although the comparatively nice weather has provided many of us with a true autumn, I’m urging people to check their homeowners’ and vehicle insurance policies now to be sure they are protected as we head into the winter season.
The first step I would encourage is to check with your local insurance agents about what’s covered in your policies. Overall, homeowners and vehicle policies provide basic protection, but some policies provide a broader range of coverages than others. It’s best to know what your individual policy contains.
Consumers should review these points about their insurance:
- Most homeowners’ policies include coverage for wind, blowing snow and the weight of ice, snow and sleet on the structure.
- Damage to homes caused by falling objects such as trees is covered under most policies. However, the cost to remove limbs is usually not covered unless the tree first damages the structure.
- Water damage to a structure or its contents is usually excluded under most property insurance contracts. Check with your local insurance agent to be sure.
- Some policies may provide coverage from frozen pipes, as long as the damage is not a result of the homeowner’s failure to keep the home adequately heated.
- Many policies don’t include coverage for water that backs up from drains or sewers. That protection can be added to a policy by purchasing additional coverage or a rider.
- Flood damage from snow and ice melt is almost always excluded by homeowners’ policies. Flood-related policies can be obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your local agent can provide details and make recommendations on what’s right for you.
- Vehicle coverage for winter-related accidents involving snow removal could be covered through collision coverage. Check with your agent for details.
- There are a couple of things to know if you lose power. First, if a fallen tree is to blame for the power outage, you may be covered by your homeowner’s policy. Second, regarding food spoiling in your refrigerator or freezer, a homeowners or renters policy often allows for compensation for food losses, but only up to a certain (usually fairly low dollar) amount. If your deductible is equal to or greater than this amount, unless you have other losses, you probably can’t claim just the loss of the food.
- Finally, hail damage can occur during the winter months as well. I encourage you to talk to your agent about vehicle and homeowners policies for hail coverage.
When you contact your agent, you should have a copy of your policy or insurance card handy. If you’ve put together a winter storm preparation kit, you might want to keep a copy there.
Before the weather outside gets frightful, take some time to make sure your insurance coverage will help keep the winter blues at bay.