Winter Weather Insurance Tips
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Richard J. Badolato urges consumers to review their insurance coverage and make sure they are ready for winter season risks.
“Winter brings severe weather, dangerous driving conditions and, of course, holiday activities — all of which can involve consumers’ insurance in one way or another,” said Acting Commissioner Badolato. “As the season approaches, it is a good time for consumers to review their coverage and make sure they are prepared.”
Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Residential property owners and renters should be aware of what their policies cover if their homes are damaged by winter storms.
Homeowners insurance generally covers:
- Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or falling limbs or collapse of a structure due to the weight of ice or snow.
- For renters, the landlord’s homeowner’s insurance generally covers the exterior of a rental property when winter season weather causes a loss. However, renters should purchase renter’s insurance to cover the loss of contents of a rental property.
- Liability and medical payments coverage in most instances for slip and fall accidents on ice or snow.
- Frozen pipes caused by extreme cold may be covered so long as the damage is not caused by the homeowner’s negligence.
- The loss of presents or other valuables stolen from the policyholder’s automobile.
Homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover:
- Flood damages. Coverage for flood must be purchased in a separate policy. Homeowners and renters can purchase a flood insurance policy directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal program which is the primary provider of flood insurance, or directly through their insurance carrier or broker. Consumers should also be aware that flood insurance is not effective until 30 days after it is purchased. Information on the National Flood Insurance Program is available at floodsmart.gov
- Removal of fallen trees if the trees do not land on or damage a property owner’s home.
Homeowners and renters should review their policy limits to make sure they cover the value of all property owned. Theft of holiday decorations or presents from a home or auto is generally covered by homeowner’s insurance, but jewelry and electronics may have a value that exceeds limits in some cases. Depending on the value of these items, extra coverage should be considered.
To make the insurance claims process easier in the event of a loss, homeowners and renters should conduct a home inventory cataloguing all of the possessions in their homes. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners provides a free software tool for conducting home inventories. Directions for downloading the app are available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDBw8UUbFRM or here: http://www.insureuonline.org/insureu_type_home.htm
For more tips on how to keep your home safe during the holidays, go to: http://www.nj.gov/dca/news/news/2014/approved/20141218a.html
Comprehensive and collision coverage for private passenger autos will provide protection for most winter related accidents such as snow-related fender benders or tree limbs falling on cars. However, for winter recreation involving snowmobiles, standard auto insurance policies generally do not extend coverage. Those purchasing a snowmobile or renting one during vacation may want to consider buying separate insurance. Assisting neighbors and friends remove snow with a plow attachment on a private passenger auto should not create problems. However, those planning on using an auto for a snow plowing side business will want to contact their agent or carrier to determine if a commercial policy is needed.
Emergencies do sometimes happen when consumers are traveling out of state or out of the country during the holidays. Consumers should make sure they have insurance information for all family members, including identification cards and contact details. Before leaving, consumers should check with their health insurance carrier to verify what cost sharing obligations might be for emergency room visits outside their network and what coverage may be available if traveling outside the country. Health insurance may not cover emergency visits when traveling overseas.
Consumers traveling over the holidays should be reminded that winter weather can close airports and delay or cancel flights. Travel insurance can help pay emergency medical bills, rental car damage and will cover expenses caused by delayed and cancelled airline flights as well as lost luggage when spending holidays and winter vacations overseas. Consumers should shop around for the travel insurance coverage that best fits their needs. It is widely available online, through travel agents and airline or cruise companies.
For additional information on insurance matters go to: www.dobi.nj.gov
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance