SCC Encourages Virginians to Protect Homes and Vehicles Against Damaging Winter Weather

Financial

JAN 28, 2021

RICHMOND – Imagine slippery sidewalks, burst pipes, roof cave-ins, and trees and vehicles covered with snow. Winter weather can wreak havoc with your home, vehicles and other property.

The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) encourages Virginians to review their insurance coverage and prepare their homes and vehicles before the arrival of harsh winter conditions. Understand what your insurance will and will not cover, as well as any deductibles you may have to pay in the event of a claim.

Although a winter landscape of snow and ice may be beautiful to behold, those conditions also bring significant hazards. Too much snow or ice can result in tree limbs breaking and falling on homes, vehicles and power lines. They also can result in collapsed roofs, and other damage to homes, structures and vehicles. Melting snow and ice can cause flooding and interior damage even after a winter storm has passed. Sub-freezing temperatures can lead to broken pipes inside and outside your home.

“Don’t let winter weather turn a wonderland into a house of horrors,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Plan ahead for seasonal and other hazards. Homeowners and renters policies can protect you against many types of winter weather threats, but there may be some exceptions. Contact your insurance agent or company, or the SCC Bureau of Insurance to learn more.”

To reduce the risk of damage to your home in the winter, the Bureau recommends the following:

  • Prune. Remove dead, dying, diseased or broken tree limbs near your home and property.
  • Clear gutters. Removing debris from your gutters helps prevent ice dams and allows melting water to drain freely away from your home.
  • Insulate and ventilate. Inspect your attic insulation and ventilation (roof or soffit vents) to ensure warm air stays in the living areas of your home and out of the attic. Keeping attic air cold can help minimize the freeze/thaw cycle that causes ice dams that can result in interior water damage to your home. Proper insulation also helps save energy and may reduce your heating and air conditioning bills.
  • Protect your pipes. Detach garden hoses from your home before freezing weather begins and properly winterize pipes and irrigation systems around your home. To protect interior pipes, leave your faucet running with a slight drip to allow water to keep moving through interior pipes, reducing the chance of freezing. Opening the cabinet doors under your sink allows warm air to circulate around your pipes.

In the event your home or property suffers damage due to severe winter weather, contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.  Make any necessary emergency repairs and take reasonable steps to prevent further damage. Record all damage to your property and include photographs, notes and repair-related receipts.

Homeowners insurance also may cover certain expenses if someone slips and falls on slick sidewalks or other surfaces on your property. You can look for this coverage under the liability and medical payments portions of your homeowners insurance policy.

You also should check whether your auto insurance covers damage to your vehicle due to ice, snow and falling tree limbs. These damages usually are covered by other-than-collision (or comprehensive) coverage on your vehicle and pay for damage to a vehicle from such things as fire, water, hail, vandalism, glass breakage, wind and falling objects.

The SCC’s Bureau of Insurance offers consumer guides regarding homeowners and auto insurance and disaster-related property insurance claims. For copies of the guides or other publications offered by the Bureau of Insurance or answers to your insurance questions, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Consumer Services Section at 804-371-9185 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560. Copies of the consumer insurance guides are also available on the Bureau’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141