If your home or car is damaged in this month’s snowstorm, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to ask about your policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles before filing a claim.
Winter storms can cause several different types of damage. Extensive damage, such as trees falling on a home or car, may require immediate attention. However, minor damage, such as food spoilage, a few missing shingles, or a scratch on a car door, may not exceed your deductible.
Before filing a claim, it is important to know if the amount of your loss is worth the effect filing a claim can have on your premium rates. It may be better to handle repairs yourself, if the loss is less than or close to your deductible.
Review these tips to understand how your coverage may apply and talk to your insurance company or agent to understand your specific policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles.
A typical homeowners policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or limbs and weight of ice and snow.
For example, if your home sustained severe structural damage from a fallen tree or other storm debris, and it is deemed uninhabitable, you may qualify for additional living expenses, which helps cover the extra costs of lodging, meals, and even pet boarding while you are unable to live in the home.
If your home lost power and received only minor damage, it will probably still be considered safe to live in, so additional living expenses may not apply.
If your home received minor damage, such as the wind blowing a few shingles off your house, your homeowners insurance will probably replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.
Winter storms can also create sudden damage caused by an ice dam on the roof or pipes bursting due to freezing. This type of damage is typically covered, and can be extensive if a pipe burst floods a home or minor, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.
Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to a power outage. However, be sure to consider if the actual benefit from filing this type of claim is worth the potential effect it can have on your premium. Remember, if the loss is close to or less than your deductible, you may not want to file a claim. If you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can typically be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.
There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that typically apply to winter storms.
- Comprehensive covers damage caused by falling trees or limbs. This includes while your car is parked inside a garage.
- Collision covers damage to your car that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
- Liability covers damage you accidentally caused to another person’s property or to a person who is injured in an accident.
Once again, if the cost to repair your car is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.
Remember, the first step is to determine your policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles. Call your insurance company or agent if you have questions about your policy, and take time to consider if the loss is extensive enough to file a claim.
If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. Oregonians can contact the division’s advocates three ways:
Visit the division's storm insurance resource page for more information.