BOSTON — A Nor’easter slammed the East Coast yesterday with powerful winds, more than a foot of snow in many locations, and moderate to severe coastal flooding around the Boston area. With another weather system moving towards the area, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reminds residents that when winter storms cause damage, insurers are prepared to work with them to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible.
“We encourage property owners to think safety first and to report any claims as soon as possible to begin the recovery process,” said Frank O’Brien, vice president state government relations for PCI. “A storm such as this can cause significant damage and claims professionals will be on the ground dedicated to helping families and businesses resolve problems and begin the recovery process.”
While it is too early to provide damage estimates, due to the nature of the storm there will be considerable flood damage which is covered if a property owner has flood insurance. Property owners who have flood insurance policies can contact either their flood insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program. It is important to remember that flood damage is generally only covered by flood insurance, which is bought as a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.
If your property does sustain damage, take the following action:
- Report all damage to your insurance company or agent as soon as you can in order to settle your claim more quickly and accurately.
- If it is safe to do so, take steps to protect your property from further damage and theft by making emergency repairs. Use plywood, tarps and other materials to cover openings in roofs, walls and windows.
- Keep receipts for anything you buy so you can submit them to your insurance company later.
- Inventory all damaged property, take pictures of the damage and check with your insurance company before throwing away any damaged property. Identify the structural damage to your home and make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster.
- To settle your claim more quickly and accurately, prepare as much information as possible about your damaged possessions when your insurance adjuster comes to look at your property.
Cold Weather Homeowners Tips
- Only trained individuals should go onto roofs to clear snow.
- Check downspouts, drains and gutters to ensure that they are free from ice or debris.
- Make sure exhaust vents are clear of snow and ice.
- Remove snow from decks and roofs.
- Place salt or sand on stoops and stairs to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Tips for Homeowners
The most frequent problems for homeowners during major snowstorms are power outages, falling trees and damage caused by those falling trees. Consumers should also take note of the following:
- Stay away from downed power lines, even if they do not appear to be “live.” Call the power company to report any outages.
- Generally damage to refrigerated food caused by a power failure that originates off the residence premises would not be a covered loss.
- Damage to trees, shrubs and other plants during an ice storm is not covered under the standard homeowners policy. However, insurance may pay to remove the debris from a fallen tree if it caused damage to a structure covered by insurance.
- If your tree damages a neighbor’s property, he or she should file a claim with his or her own insurer.
- If the tree falls on your own house, damage to the house is covered. Generally the policy covers the cost to remove the tree from the house.
- However if the tree or branch falls and does no damage to a covered structure, generally there is no coverage for the tree or to remove the tree from the premises.