Winter weather and insurance coverage
Most standard homeowner policies cover damage from wind, wind-driven rain, falling trees and collapse due to ice or snow. If you need to file an insurance claim due to winter storm damage, read some of the common questions consumers ask us, and our answers:
Wind-related damage and cleanup
A tree fell on my home. What should I do?
Call your insurer or agent as soon as possible. Take photos or video of the damage. If it's safe, take steps - such as covering broken windows or leaking roofs - to limit further damage.
Also, don't make permanent repairs until your insurer has seen the property and you've agreed on repairs. Save all receipts, including those for temporary measures (tarps, plywood, etc.).
If you cannot live in the home, ask your insurer if you have coverage for living expenses during repair work. And save those receipts, too.
If you hire someone to do the repairs, even someone your insurance agent recommends, make sure they're registered with the state (www.lni.wa.gov).
Trees and branches fell in my yard. Will my insurance pay for the cleanup?
Probably not. Standard policies don't cover tree removal and cleanup unless the tree fell on your home, garage, car, etc.
Am I covered if my car was damaged by falling limbs or because my carport collapsed on top of it?
Your car: If you have comprehensive coverage under your auto insurance, it should cover the damage to your car.
Your carport: Your homeowner insurance should cover the damage to your carport.
Remember, both policies are subject to a deductible.
My neighbor's tree fell on my house. Whose insurance pays the bills?
Your homeowner insurer will often pay, even if it was the neighbor's tree. If so, you'll be responsible for the deductible. If it can be shown that the neighbor was at fault, your insurer may be able to get your neighbor's insurer to pay. But fault or negligence can be hard to prove.
My boat sank from the strong winds. Am I covered?
It depends on your boat insurance policy. Check your policy and talk with your insurance agent.
Damage due to power outages
My television set was ruined when the power came back on. Am I covered?
Most homeowner policies cover appliances and electronics ruined by power surges, regardless of whether they're related to an outage. But consider your deductible. Especially if you have low-cost or old equipment, it may not be worth filing a claim.
I lost power for several days during a windstorm and the food in my freezer thawed. Am I covered?
Some homeowner policies provide coverage for this, but it may not be worth filing a claim, particularly if you have a high deductible. The items may be less expensive to replace than paying a deductible.
Damage due to deep freeze
I’m concerned about the pipes to my home freezing during the cold winter months. Am I covered if they burst?
Your homeowner policy should cover you. However, to avoid this issue, be sure to keep your home above 60 degrees during the winter months. You should also make sure your outside faucets are drained, covered or insulated to keep them from freezing.
I plan to not be home during the winter months. If I turn off the heat to my home and my pipes break, will my insurance company cover the damage?
If your pipes burst because you did not keep your home warm enough, the loss may not be covered. Homeowner policies may exclude coverage for damage to a home when it isn’t properly heated.
Damage due to flooding
I’m concerned about flooding. Will I be covered?
Homeowner insurance doesn't cover floods. You'd have to buy a separate policy to protect your property against flood water. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (www.floodsmart.gov)
Damage due to landslides
My house is threatened by the possibility of landslide. Is this covered?
Homeowner insurance does not cover landslides. If your home is located in an area prone to landslides, talk with your agent to find out if there are other insurers that will cover landslides on a separate policy.