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State insurance department offers tips before a storm

With the potential for damage to homes and vehicles from the coming snowstorm, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi offers policyholders tips on preparing for the storm and filing claims if there is property loss.

“One of the most important things consumers can do right now is take stock of what they have. Take the time now to make a home inventory or update an existing one,” Leonardi said. “This will be extremely helpful should the need arise to file a claim. Do not hesitate to contact the Insurance Department if you have questions or complaints.”

Before the storm:

  • Keep your policy and other important documents together in a safe place
  • Review your policy to understand your coverage – call your company or agent if you have questions
  • Create or update your home inventory.
  • Take photos of your possessions
  • Note model and serial numbers
  • Assemble original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents

After the storm:

  • Call your insurance company’s 24-hour claims phone number as soon as possible; provide policy number and other relevant information and documents.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make repairs necessary to prevent further damage, but do not make permanent repairs until your insurance company inspects the damage.
  • Save all receipts from temporary repairs.
  • Keep a diary of all conversations, e-mails and other correspondence with the company.

Winter Damage Coverage (Note: Policies may vary in coverage. Contact your agent or the Insurance Department with questions about the specifics of your policy):

Snow removal – Homeowners insurance does not cover injuries to the homeowner during snow removal. However, snow removal professionals should be covered under their own liability policies

Ice dams: Interior or exterior damage caused by an ice dam on a roof is generally covered, however many policies do not pay for ice dam removal.

Frozen pipes: Most policies cover pipe replacement and water damage. However, coverage may not apply if you turned off the furnace for the winter without winterizing the home.

Tree Damage:  In general, the policyholder of the property that is damaged by a falling tree – not the tree owner – should file the claim with his or her insurance company.  The insurance policy covers the cost to remove the tree from the damaged property and the resulting damage, minus the deductible. If the tree damaged a covered structure, the claim would be made on the homeowner’s policy. If the tree damaged a vehicle, the claim would be made on the auto insurance policy.

Storm power outages: An all-risk policy generally pays for damage caused by loss of power and appliances damaged by the outage.  Check your policy to see if it covers spoiled food. Most policies will not pay for shelter when you lose power for extended periods of time unless there is damage to the home that causes it to be uninhabitable.

Renters: Landlord’s insurance will pay for winter damage to building. It will not pay for damage to personal contents, which must be covered by the renter’s own insurance.

More info: Consumer Helpline, 800-203-347 or 860-297-3900; ct.gov/cid

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