Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller has advised consumers to plan ahead and review their homeowners and auto insurance policies as winter weather conditions like snow, sleet and ice become more frequent.
“Winter is coming, and it is important that you plan a head so you are able to respond quickly in the event of a car accident or damage to your home,” said Commissioner Miller. “Understanding how your policy handles these weather-related incidents can help ease the process if you need to file a claim.”
Most standard homeowners policies provide coverage for cold weather-related damage. However, taking steps to prepare their homes may help consumers mitigate some of these issues before they arise.
Homeowners should take steps to check pipes for cracks or leaks, ensure that pipes are well insulated, turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and try to maintain a constant temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing. Trimming dead tree branches can also help reduce the chance of a branch breaking under the weight of snow or ice and causing damage to a home or a vehicle.
If damage does occur, property owners should only make temporary repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage until an adjuster is able to view the property. Making permanent repairs without the guidance of an adjuster may result in a claim’s denial.
It is always important to exercise extreme care when driving in severe weather as well. Even if snow or sleet is no longer falling, road conditions can still be dangerous and slippery, Commissioner Miller warned.
If weather conditions contribute to an accident, insurance will help pay for the damage, but a deductible may still need to be paid. Damage to a vehicle caused by hitting another car or structures like a lamp post, telephone pole, building, sign, or fence will be covered under a policy’s collision coverage. Damage from forces of nature, such as falling ice or tree limbs, is covered under comprehensive coverage.
“Be sure to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident or receiving damage to your vehicle or property,” Commissioner Miller said. “Reporting these incidents quickly and heeding instructions given from your company is the best way to ensure that your property is repaired or replaced as needed.”
Source: Pennsylvania Insurance Department
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