by Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner
Check your homeowners’ and vehicle insurance policies to be sure you are protected this winter.
It’s a good thing to check with your insurance agents about what’s covered in your policies. Homeowners’ and auto policies provide basic protection, but some policies provide a broader range of coverages than others.
Consumers should review these points about their insurance:
• Most homeowners’ policies include coverage for wind, blowing snow and the weight of ice, snow and sleet on the structure.
• Damage to homes caused by falling objects such as trees is covered under most policies. However, the cost to remove limbs is usually not covered unless the tree first damages the structure.
• Water damage to a structure or its contents is usually excluded under most property insurance contracts. Check with your local insurance agent to be sure.
• Some policies may provide coverage from frozen pipes, as long as the damage is not a result of the homeowner’s failure to keep the home adequately heated.
• Many policies don’t include coverage for water that backs up from drains or sewers. That protection can be added to a policy by purchasing additional coverage or a rider.
• Flood damage from snow and ice melt is almost always excluded by homeowners’ policies. Flood-related policies can be obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your local agent can provide details.
• Vehicle coverage for winter-related accidents involving snow removal could be covered through collision coverage. Check with your agent for details.
• There are a couple of things to know if you lose power. First, if a fallen tree is to blame for the power outage, you may be covered by your homeowners policy. Second, regarding food spoiling in your refrigerator or freezer, a homeowners or renters policy often allows for compensation for food losses, but only up to a certain (usually fairly low dollar) amount. If your deductible is equal to or greater than this amount, unless you have other losses, you probably can’t claim just the loss of the food.
I always urge Kansans who have property damage caused by winter weather to contact their insurance agents or insurance companies as soon as possible. You should have a copy of your policy or insurance card when you talk to your agent. If you have a winter storm preparation kit, you might want to keep a copy there.
If you still have questions, contact our Kansas Insurance Department Consumer Assistance Representatives at 800-432-2484. Information is also available on our website, www.ksinsurance.org.
Don’t let winter weather get the best of you.