ICE STORM AND YOUR INSURANCE
By Chuck Wells
Most people learned all about
their home insurance policy back in 1991 when we had the last
big ice storm. There are things which are covered, those which
are not, and those which pay a certain amount of money. The best
way to review some of these is to answer some common questions
which came up this time around. Keep in mind that there are many
different policies available out there and the following Q & A’s
apply to the standard policy written.
Q: Trees fell in my yard but
did not hit anything. Will my home insurance pay for the
A: No. The insurance company will only pay for
clean-up of fallen trees if the trees hit your house or garage
and the maximum they are obligated to pay is $500 if the trees
do hit your buildings.
Q: A tree in my yard fell and
hit my neighbor’s garage. Whose insurance pays?
neighbor’s insurance will pay even though it was your tree.
Q: A tree fell on my car and
damaged it. Does my home insurance pay for the damages?
Your car insurance pays if you have comprehensive coverage. If
you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you are out of luck.
Q: My power went off so my sump
pump would not work and my cellar flooded. Will I get paid for
the damage to my carpeting, furniture, etc. down in the
A: Only if you paid for extra coverage on your home
insurance that covers backup of drains. Usually that limit is up
to $2000 or $5,000 depending upon the policy. If you did not get
that extra coverage, you may not get paid.
Q: All of the food in my
refrigerator was spoiled with the power outage. Will I get paid?
A: After you satisfy your deductible, you may get paid some
money depending on whether or not you just lost power or a tree
fell on the wires and ripped them out of your house. If you just
lost power, you may not be covered. And please don’t tell us all
you had in the freezer was lobster tails and filet mignon.
Q: All the trees in my yard
were destroyed by the ice. Can I collect for their value so I
can get them replaced?
A: No. You can only collect for the value
of trees if they are killed by fire, lightning, vandalism, and a
few other instances, but not ice.
Q: I drove to Maryland to buy a
generator so my insurance company wouldn’t have to pay so much
on this ice storm. Can I collect for the cost of the generator,
my mileage, my cigarettes, and my valuable time driving down
there and back?
A: No. But good try. You are responsible for
trying your best to keep further damage from occurring. Keep the
generator for the next storm.
Q: Some low-life came onto my
property and stole my new generator right under my nose. Will my
home insurance pay for a new one?
A: Yes, after you sustain your
deductible (usually $250). If you know the serial number of your
new generator, check out ads in the pennysaver in a couple of
weeks as it may be there for sale!
Q: I was out driving during the
emergency looking at all the pretty ice. If I had an accident,
would my car insurance company deny paying the claim because I
wasn’t supposed to be out there?
A: No. Your car insurance would
pay even if you are out when you were not supposed to be.
However, if you got a ticket for being out there, your rates may
go up. We may also request a mental exam.
Q: Some pipes in my cellar
froze and burst. Is there any coverage?
A: Yes. The resulting
water damage from the burst pipes should be covered.
The bottom line to all of this
insurance stuff is that you need to be prepared and not assume
your insurance company will pay for everything. Your home
insurance policy is designed to cover you for the big fire that
destroys everything you own.
If you know your cellar will
flood when the sump pump quits, keep valuable things out of the
basement or buy an extra pump and generator. Check with your
agent to see if you can buy additional water back-up coverage
for the future.
There are some things which,
even if I knew they were going to happen tomorrow, I could not
get covered in a policy for you. Check with your agent if you
have any questions about your particular policy.
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