What To Do If Winter Weather Storms Cause Damage To Your Home Or Car

(UNDATED) – The cold winter season is here and with it often comes personal injuries on ice and an increase in automobile accidents due to slick conditions on the roads.

The Indiana Department of Insurance reminds you to review your insurance policies and to consider these tips during the cold winter storm season.
What to Do If You Are In an Automobile Accident

  • Call the police.
  • Call your insurance agent or company to report the incident as soon as possible. Ask your agent what documents, forms, and data you will need.
  • To take the stress out of filing a claim after an accident, use WRECKCHECK. It’s a free smartphone app that walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident. You can then email the report directly to your insurance agent. WRECKCHECK is available for Apple and Android devices as well as in PDF form.
  • Obtain the following information: The names, addresses, telephone numbers and driver’s license numbers of all persons involved in the accident, and any witnesses.
  • Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of vehicles involved, apparent damages and injuries, and your version of what happened.
  • Take notes each time you talk with your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or others involved in the situation. Write down the dates, times, names and subjects you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
  • Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable. Save all receipts and bills, including those from renting a car or having your car towed and/or stowed.
  • Check your automobile insurance for liability limits to make sure you have adequate protection against injury or damage in case you or one of your drivers causes an accident, whether it’s a minor fender bender or a multi-car incident. To protect your vehicle, you should consider having the appropriate level of collision and comprehensive coverage to pay for damages to your own vehicle.

What To Do If Damage to Your Home Occurs

  • Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Cooperate fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs, and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.
  • Your homeowners or renter’s policy also can protect you against common winter debacles. If someone slips on ice on your property and is injured, your homeowner’s policy will pay for some medical expenses, but ask your insurance provider if you have adequate liability limits. A standard homeowners policy also will provide coverage, subject to your deductible, if your home suffers damage during a winter storm or a house fire. If you rent, your landlord may be responsible for keeping ice from the sidewalks, but check your lease carefully as the landlord may have transferred that responsibility to you.
  • What Damage to Your Home is Covered?

    • Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to the weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowners policies.
    • Frozen pipes as the result of extreme cold might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there.
    • Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.

    What Damage to Your Home is Not Covered?
    The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowner’s insurance policy:

    • Interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home
    • Damage as the result of a flood
    • Removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home)
    • Food spoilage due to a power outage
    • Water damage from backed-up drains or sewers.
    • Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverages not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company to determine your needs.

    More Information
    For more information about auto, homeowners, and other types of insurance, visit www.in.gov/idoi/2542.htm.
    About the Indiana Department of Insurance
    The Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) protects Indiana’s insurance consumers by monitoring and regulating the financial strengths and market conduct activities of insurance companies and agents. The IDOI monitors insurance companies and agents for compliance with state laws to protect consumers and to offer them the best array of insurance products available. The IDOI also assists Hoosiers with insurance questions and provides guidance in understanding how insurance policies work.