Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Consumer alert: What you should know about winter storm damage

A winter storm has hit Washington state hard, with record levels of snowfall in Western Washington and it may not be over yet. Forecasts call for continuing rain or rain/snow mix and possible freezing temperatures overnight in some areas.
A state trooper helps a motorist dig out
after sliding off the road on Highway 3 on Feb. 11.
Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol

Here are some tips about winter storm prevention and damage.


Auto damage

If you have comprehensive coverage, your policy should cover any damage caused by trees, ice or other weather-related mishaps. The amount of your deductible may sway your decision to file a claim, depending on how much damage there is.

A good way to avoid a weather-related collision to is leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination and drive slowly. Get real-time tips from Washington State Patrol.

Also, it’s a good idea to park your vehicle in a protected area or away from trees that can damage it.

Boats and RVs

Be sure to check your boat and/or RV is you are storing one outside. Boats moored in marinas need to be checked, as the weight of ice and snow can sink a boat.

Snow/ice

The prolonged weight of ice and snow on buildings can lead to collapse or cause the roof to crack and let moisture in the home. Sometimes these cracks are not apparent, and may not be seen for a few weeks to a few months.

Another issue to be aware of is frozen gutters. If water collects in them and it freezes, it can cause damage to the house. Those claims can be contentious because sometimes the damage isn’t found until much later, so it’s hard to prove what actually caused the damage. To be on the safe side, clear debris from gutters so water doesn’t collect and freeze.

If it is not safe to remove snow or clean gutters, consider hiring a licensed and bonded contractor to do the work.

Snow melt

Some areas of the state are experiencing a rapid snow melt, which is good but may also cause problems for some people. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. You would need a flood insurance policy, which has a 30-day waiting period to kick in. So if you don’t have a flood policy and you experience flood damage, you won’t be covered.

Here are some tips for avoiding flooding on your property:
  • Pile snow in a place that won’t cause water to flood any buildings as it melts. 
  • Try to clear out accessible down spouts and storm drains to prevent backups and overflows. 
  • If any of these activities are unsafe, you may want consider hiring a licensed and bonded contractor to do the work. 
Read more about winter weather and insurance considerations. Questions? Contact our insurance experts.