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01/03/2018

Acting Insurance Commissioner Urges Homeowners, Drivers to Prepare for Winter Weather

Harrisburg, PA - As winter begins in earnest in Pennsylvania, Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today urged Pennsylvanians to review their homeowners and auto insurance policies and take precautions to protect themselves in the event of a weather-related incident.

“While some Pennsylvanians have already experienced dangerous winter weather, the months of January and February often bring the most treacherous and long-lasting severe weather conditions across the state, like sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice and sleet, so it’s important to be prepared,” Altman said. “Individuals should take proper precautions and review their homeowners and auto insurance policies in the event of a weather-related incident.”

Most standard homeowners policies provide coverage for cold weather-related damage; however, taking steps to prepare your home may help mitigate some of these issues before they arise.

Homeowners should check pipes for cracks or leaks, ensure that pipes are well insulated, turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and try to maintain a constant temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing.

Trimming dead tree branches can also help reduce the chance of a branch breaking under the weight of snow or ice and causing damage to a home or a vehicle.

If damage does occur, property owners should only make temporary repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage until an adjuster is able to view the property. Making permanent repairs without the guidance of an adjuster may result in a claim’s denial.

Drivers should examine their tires and replace them if needed. AAA recommends keeping an emergency road kit that includes essential items like drinking water and non-perishable snacks, extra clothes or a blanket, window washer solvent, an ice scraper, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, warning devices like flares or triangles and a cell phone car charger.

When driving in severe weather, exercise extreme caution. Even if snow or sleet is no longer falling, road conditions can still be dangerous and slippery.

If weather conditions contribute to an accident, auto insurance will help pay for the damage, but the consumer may still have to pay a deductible. Damage to a vehicle caused by hitting another car or structures like a lamp post, telephone pole, building, sign, or fence will be covered under a policy’s collision coverage. Damage from forces of nature like falling ice or tree limbs is covered under comprehensive coverage.

“Winter weather conditions can be unpredictable and cause unexpected incidents or accidents,” Altman said. “It’s important to report any incident to your insurance company as soon as possible to ensure that your property is properly assessed, repaired or replaced as needed.”

Consumers who have questions or concerns about how a claim was handled can contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau by calling 1-877-881-6388 or online at http://www.insurance.pa.gov/Pages/ContactUs.aspx.

For more information on homeowners and auto insurance, visit www.insurance.pa.gov.   

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Rementer - 717-787-3289

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