Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tips on winter storm-related insurance claims

As this week's snowstorm turns into an ice storm, we figured that it would be a good time for a Q&A re: winter storms and insurance claims. For more, please see our winter weather page.

My neighbor’s tree fell on my house. Who pays?
Usually your insurance, even if it was the neighbor's tree. And you’ll be responsible for the deductible.
Sometimes your insurer can prove the neighbor was at fault (diseased tree, etc.) and make their insurer pay. But that can be hard to prove.
If possible, take steps to prevent further damage. For example, you might try to cover holes in walls or the roof, but only if it's safe to do so. Beware of snow, ice, and falling limbs.
And save your receipts: Your insurer may reimburse you for those costs.

A tree fell on my car or carport. Am I covered?
Car: Yes, if you have comprehensive coverage.
Carport: Yes, usually your homeowners coverage will usually cover the damage. But unattached buildings – like a garden shed – are often not covered.

Lots of limbs fell in my yard. Will an insurance company pay for cleanup?
Usually not. Homeowners insurance is mainly for the home.

Lost power and freezer thawed. Am I covered?
Most homeowners policies cover this, but it may not be worth filing a claim, esp. if you have a high deductible.

I’m concerned about flooding. Will I be covered?
Probably not. A standard homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover floods. You have to buy a separate policy, usually through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

My television set was ruined when the power came back on. Am I covered?
Most homeowner policies do cover appliances ruined by power surges. But consider your deductible -- in many cases, it may be more than the cost of simply replacing the damaged equipment.