WILKES-BARRE — With severe weather already here and more expected, Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman is urging residents to review their homeowner and auto policies and take precautions to protect themselves in the event of a weather-related incident.
“While some Pennsylvanians have already experienced dangerous winter weather, the months of January and February often bring the most treacherous and long-lasting severe weather conditions across the state, like sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice and sleet, so it’s important to be prepared,” Altman said in a news release.
Altman said most homeowner policies cover cold weather-related damage. However, taking steps to prepare your home may mitigate some of these issues before they arise.
Altman offered several tips:
• Homeowners should check pipes for cracks or leaks, ensure that pipes are well insulated, turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets, and try to maintain a constant temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing.
• Trimming dead tree branches can also help reduce the chance of a branch breaking under the weight of snow or ice and causing damage to a home or vehicle.
• If damage does occur, property owners should make only temporary repairs to prevent further damage until an adjuster is able to view the property. Making permanent repairs without the guidance of an adjuster may result in a claim’s denial.
Some tips for drivers:
• AAA recommends keeping an emergency road kit that includes essential items like drinking water and non-perishable snacks, extra clothes or a blanket, and jumper cables.
• If weather conditions contribute to an accident, auto insurance will help pay for the damage, but the consumer may still have to pay a deductible. Damage to a vehicle caused by hitting another car or structures will be covered under a policy’s collision coverage. Damage from forces of nature like falling ice or tree limbs falls under comprehensive coverage.
Drivers and property owners are also advised to report any damage as soon as possible to their insurers.
Consumers who have concerns about how a claim was handled can contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or at http://www.insurance.pa.gov/Pages/ContactUs.aspx.