tree damage cleanup

Check Coverage Before Winter Storms Begin

70’s in Wisconsin in November?! It’s hard to believe the incredible weather we’ve had this fall. It’s tempting to think the cold, snowy winter months will never come this year. But try as we might to deny it, winter is coming.

That’s why now is the time to check your homeowner’s insurance coverage and vehicle insurance policies to make sure they’re protected before the snow begins to fall.

The first step is to check with your local insurance agent to see what’s covered in your policies. Homeowners and vehicle insurance coverage policies typically provide basic protection but some have a broader range of coverage than others. It’s important to know what exactly your policy includes.

You should review these points about your insurance coverage:

  • Most homeowner’s 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 are 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.

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 flood.

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.

Make sure you have a copy of your policy or insurance card handy when you contact your agent. Understanding the ins and outs of your policy before winter hits will make sure you are ready for anything and prepared to respond.