March 13, 2019
- With a dangerous "bomb cyclone" blizzard hitting Colorado, it's important car and home owners understand how their insurance covers damage as the result of wet, heavy and blowing snow, along with what to do if they're in a crash, especially with accident alerts in place throughout the state.
"The wet, heavy snow associated with these types of spring storms can cause major damage, especially with the high winds and any power outages," says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "There is a big challenge with objects and trees falling on roofs, cars and other property. If your power is out there are concerns about freezing pipes. Additionally, heed advice to stay off the roads with treacherous driving conditions. The bottom line: most of resulting blizzard damage is covered by insurance, but you should do what you can to prevent it and keep yourself out of harm's way."
Standard homeowners policies will cover most kinds of damage that result from severe winter weather, such as house pipes freezing and bursting or water seepage into the house as the result of ice forming in gutters and causing water to back up under roof shingles. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house. If you do discover damage, make temporary repairs and keep receipts, as those costs may be reimbursed under your claim settlement. The answer to the common insurance question: "What if my tree falls on my neighbor's house?" Unless there is some proven negligence on your part, i.e. you've been asked to remove a dangerous tree, it will be your neighbor's homeowners insurance that will likely cover the damage to their property, even though it's your tree.
Drivers need to be aware of how they are covered if they are involved in an accident with another vehicle verses tree limbs falling on a car due to heavy snow, or for that matter if they slide into a tree. Comprehensive coverage comes into play if your car is hit by a falling object, while collision coverage protects you when you crash into a tree or a wall. Liability insurance is primary coverage for car collisions you cause.
Winter Driving & Accident Alert Insurance Advice
Knowing what to do if you are involved in an accident can save lives and also make the claims process easier. During a winter storm a local jurisdiction may likely be on accident alert. That means if no one is injured and there is no alcohol or drugs involved, you need to move the vehicles to a safe location and exchange contact and insurance information. You should still report the accident to police and your insurance company. Document damage at the scene and exchange all drivers' information including, names, license numbers, insurance, license plates.
If you run into an unattended vehicle or object, try to find the owner. If you can't, leave a note containing your name, address and phone number. Document the details of the accident.
For more consumer information on insurance topics logon to www.rmiia.org.