The state Insurance Department is offering advice and tips for homeowners with questions about their insurance policies regarding damage caused by the heavy snow and ice, strong winds and prolonged, frigid temperatures Pennsylvania has experienced this winter, according to Senator Scott Hutchinson.
Damage to homes and contents caused by the weight of snow or ice, creating a collapse, is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams, when water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls, is also covered.
Damage resulting from fallen trees is covered by homeowner’s policies, but consumers should check with their company before calling a tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered.
Consumers should also ask their insurance company about food spoilage as a result of a power outage, debris clean up, structural damage to your home, rain spouts, sewage problems, broken water pipes, freezing pipes and furnace damage.
The Insurance Department recommends these steps to help make the insurance process easier to navigate:
- Contact your insurance company immediately and follow the instructions given to you by claims personnel. Keep a log of the people you spoke with and ask questions if you do not understand instructions.
- Separate damaged and undamaged property for the adjuster to examine. Do not throw away damaged property until your company’s adjuster advises you it is all right to do so.
- Wait for the adjuster to arrive! Do not call anyone to repair or replace your loss without first getting instructions from your adjuster.
- If your home is damaged, make only temporary repairs until a claims adjuster looks at the damage. Permanent repairs could trigger a denial of your claim.
- Be careful when choosing a contractor to make repairs. Before signing a contract, check references to make sure you are working with a reputable firm.
If your claim is denied, review the terms of your policy for what is or is not covered. You may also file an appeal to your insurance company’s claim manager. If questions remain, feel free to contact the Insurance Department. For more information, visit www.insurance.pa.gov, or call the department’s toll-free, automated consumer hotline at (877) 881-6388.