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Damage to Homes and Vehicles from This Weekend’s Snowstorm Covered by Insurance

NEW YORK, February 13, 2006—As residents dig out from the big White Out of 2006, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reminds them to check their property for damage from melting ice and snow and to review their insurance policies for covered damages.

Standard homeowners or business insurance policies cover a wide range of winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, wind damage and building collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow or by downed trees and limbs. There is also insurance protection for food spoilage and out-of-pocket living expenses for people unable to live in their homes due to storm-related damage. Coverage for back-up of sewers and drains also is available; however, flood damage is excluded from most standard policies.

In addition, damage to vehicles is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.

Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property, says the I.I.I. In March 1993, a 20-state winter storm caused a whopping $1.7 billion in insured losses, making it the ninth largest insured catastrophe in the U.S. And more recently, a 10-state winter storm in January 2004 caused $485 million in insured losses.

To prevent injuries and damage to property from snow, the I.I.I. recommends the following:

Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.

Watch for snow accumulation on the leeward (downwind) side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect. For safe removal that won’t damage your roof, consult a roofing contractor. Snow or rain that freezes in gutters can cause an “ice dam,” damaging ceilings as melting ice spreads under roof shingles. Keep gutters clean of leaves and debris, as well as snow, to help prevent this condition.

As snow melts, water can back up sewers and drains resulting in flooding in your home. Local government officials should be notified if street drains are clogged.

Keep your house warm. The temperature inside should be at least 65 degrees to prevent the pipes from freezing.

If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance. If your pipes do burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You want to prevent any additional water damage to your home.

Clear ice and snow from the windshield and rear window of your automobile as well as headlights, taillights and side view mirrors. Remove snow from the car’s hood and roof, where it can cause collapse or blow onto your front and rear windows when driving.

The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the property/casualty insurance industry.

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