Central Oregon DailyHome damaged in winter weather? What to know about filing insurance claims

Home damaged in winter weather? What to know about filing insurance claims

Home damaged in winter weather? What to know about filing insurance claims

Damaged roof

Whether it’s burst water pipes, ice dams or fallen trees, your house could become victim to winter weather. And on the road, your chances of getting into a collision are likely to increase in icy weather.

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is putting out tips for home and car owners to prepare to prevent winter weather-related losses. DFR also said that depending on the damage to your home or car, your insurance may cover it. 

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Here are details from DFR about how to make sure your home, car and more are ready for the winter months and what to know if you have to file a claim.

Before your home, vehicle, or possessions are damaged by storms and winter weather, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage, as well as familiarize yourself with applicable exclusions and deductibles.

There are several things you can also take action to help prevent losses from occurring, including:

  • Inspect and maintain your foundation, gutters, and roof
  • Insulate and maintain water pipes
  • Monitor tree health and trim them as needed
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter driving

Some preventive items, including insulated covers for outdoor water faucets, can be found now at stores, but when the weather turns cold, they may be harder to find.

Before submitting a claim, confirm applicable coverage and determine whether the benefits of filing a claim for the damage outweigh the costs. Make sure to consider your deductible as part of that analysis. The amount of damage could be less than or close to your deductible. Then, determine if a claim will be beneficial to your situation. A reported claim could affect your future premium or ability to obtain coverage.

Homeowners

A typical homeowners policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or limbs and weight of ice and snow. If your home received minor damage, such as the wind blowing a few shingles off your house, your homeowners insurance will probably replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.

Winter storms can also create sudden damage caused by an ice dam on the roof or pipes bursting due to freezing. This damage is typically covered and can be extensive – if a pipe burst floods a home – or minor, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.

If your home sustained severe damage, and it is considered uninhabitable, and your policy has additional living expenses coverage, it can help cover the extra costs of lodging, meals, and even pet boarding while you are unable to live in the home. Those with renters insurance can also take advantage of this coverage if it is contained in their policies.

If your home lost power and received only minor damage, it will probably still be considered safe to live in, so additional living expenses coverage may not apply. Check with your insurance company or agent to confirm your coverage.

Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to a power outage, but, if this is the only loss, your deductible may be more than your loss and it will not make sense to file a claim. However, if you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can typically be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.

Auto

There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that typically apply to winter storms:

  • Comprehensive covers damage caused by falling trees or limbs. This includes while your vehicle is parked inside a garage. Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for vehicles, even while parked inside your garage. 
  • Collision covers damage to your vehicle that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
  • Liability covers damage you accidentally caused to another person’s property or to a person injured in an accident.

Once again, if the cost to repair your vehicle is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.

Freezing temperatures can affect your car and wintry driving conditions are often less than ideal. This is a good time to have your vehicle’s tires, hoses, anti-freeze, and windshield wipers looked at and possibly replaced. You would not want to be stuck in the ice somewhere over something that could have been prevented.

Remember, you want to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage and take steps to reduce your risks. Check with your insurance agent or company to determine your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles.

If you have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. You can contact the division’s advocates by phone at 888-877-4894 (toll free) or by email at dfr.insurancehelp@dcbs.oregon.gov

Visit dfr.oregon.gov or the division’s storm insurance resource page for more information.

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