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Winter weather insurance tips and reminders

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 09:02:18 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 11 2014 04:37:50 AM CST

Winter weather has brought with it some headaches for homeowners including downed trees and power outages.

Winter weather has brought with it some headaches for homeowners including downed trees and power outages.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is offering tips and reminders for homeowners who are filing insurance claims for property damage.

"Even though the snow and the ice may look pretty on the trees and on the lawns, it does also mean that there could be a homeowners claim in your future," said Pennsylvania Insurance Department spokesperson Melissa Fox.

Fox said if you have damage, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to get the claims process started. Keep a log of who you talk to, including dates and times.

"If you have a question, don't be afraid to ask because it could be the difference between having your claim go through or your claim denied," Fox told 69 News.

According to the State Insurance Department , things covered under standard homeowners policies include: damage to your house and its contents from a collapse from the weight of snow or ice, burst pipes, ice dams, which is when water can't drain through gutters, gets inside and causes damage, and most damage from fallen trees.

The department also recommends asking your insurance company about debris cleanup, structural damage to your house, rain spouts, sewage issues, broken and frozen pipes, furnace damage, and even food spoilage that happens because of a power outage.

"Typically food spoilage is covered in your policy but you should always contact your insurance company to make sure what your limits are," said Fox.

Tom Wolf, president of Wolf Insurance Agency in Nazareth, told 69 News, "Everybody has different limitations. Some have a dollar limitation there, some do not, so that would be subject to your own individual policy."

He also had a message for drivers. Wolf said, "Until the snow is completely gone, people need to exercise the same degree of caution while driving for various reasons."

The Insurance Department said car insurance pays for damage you may cause to someone else's property because of ice, snow, and slippery roads. That could also include telephone poles, fences, lamp posts, and other things you may hit.

The department recommends not throwing away anything that was damaged and not making any permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster sees it.

Separate damaged and undamaged property for the adjuster.

Do your homework before choosing someone to work on your house.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department's consumer hotline is 877-881-6388.