SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – If your home or car is damaged in this month’s snowstorm, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to Find out about your policy coverage, exclusions and deductibles before you file a claim.
Winter storms can cause several types of damage. Significant damage, such as falling trees on a house or car, may require immediate attention. However, minor damage, such as spoilage of food, a few missing shingles, or a scratch on a car door, may not exceed your deductible.
Before filing a claim, it’s important to know whether the amount of your loss is worth the effect filing a claim may have on your premium rates. It may be best to manage the repairs yourself if the loss is less than or close to your deductible.
Check out these tips to understand how your coverage may apply, and talk to your insurance company or agent to understand your policy’s coverage, exclusions, and deductibles.
A typical home insurance policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or branches and the weight of ice and snow.
For example, if your home has suffered severe structural damage from a fallen tree or other storm debris, and is found to be uninhabitable, you may be eligible for additional living expenses, which help cover the additional costs of accommodation, meals and even boarding for animals while you are unable to live in the house.
If your home has lost power and only suffered minor damage, it will likely still be rated as safe, so additional living costs may not apply.
If your home has suffered minor damage, such as wind blowing a few shingles off your home, your home insurance will likely replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.
Winter storms can also create sudden damage from an ice dam on the roof or burst pipes due to freezing. This type of damage is usually covered and can be considerable if a burst pipe floods a home or miner, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.
Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to power failure. However, be sure to determine if the actual benefit of filing this type of claim is worth the potential effect it may have on your premium. Remember, if the loss is near or less than your deductible, you may not want to file a claim. If you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can usually be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.
There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that generally apply to winter storms.
- Full covers damage caused by falling trees or branches. This includes when your car is parked in a garage.
- Collision covers damage to your car that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
- Responsibility covers damage you have accidentally caused to another person’s property or to a person who is injured in an accident.
Again, if your car repair cost is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.
Remember that the first step is to determine the coverage, exclusions and deductibles under your policy. Call your insurance company or agent if you have questions about your policy and take the time to determine if the loss is large enough to file a claim.
If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. The people of Oregon can contact the defenders of the division in three ways:
Visit the division’s storm insurance resource page for more information.
The Financial Regulation Division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.