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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director

NW Insurance Council
Phone: (206) 624-3330
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo

Snowstorm insurance claims:
What to do now?

SEATTLE – Last week’s severe snow storm took a toll across the Northwest, damaging homes, vehicles and property and putting people at risk of serious injury.  If your home, business or vehicle was damaged, take steps now to get your claim started. It’s also important for homeowners, renters, business owners and vehicle owners to understand what is and isn’t covered and what to do in the aftermath.

“Property and vehicle damage is an unfortunate result of snowstorms,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “Fortunately, this type of damage is covered by insurance.” 

Homeowners and Business Insurance policies cover damage from falling trees and roof collapse due to the weight of ice and snow.  If you have Renters Insurance, only damage to your personal possessions is covered.  Damage to your vehicle caused by falling trees or collapsing carports is insured if you have purchased optional Comprehensive Coverage in your Auto Policy.  Damage to your vehicle caused by collision with other vehicles is covered, regardless of fault, if you have purchased optional Collision Coverage in your Auto Policy.

NW Insurance Council offers the following coverage facts about severe winter weather damage and tips about what to do next:

What is typically covered?

Your Home

  • Damage to your home from falling trees and collapse due to the weight of ice and snow.  Your policy protects you regardless of whether the trees fall from your property or a neighboring property

  • Removal of trees that have fallen on buildings.

  • Damaged personal property (both home and renters) inside a damaged building.

  • If you can’t occupy your primary residence due to storm damage, additional living expenses are covered up to your policy limit, including increased housing costs, extra food costs, furniture rental, and storage fees.

  • Costs for reasonable temporary repairs to prevent further damage to the building or contents.

Your Vehicle

Damage caused by the weight of snow and ice and by falling trees is covered if you purchased optional Comprehensive Coverage.

What is typically not covered?

Your Home

  • Removal of trees that have fallen in your yard without damaging a building.

  • Upgrades that weren’t part of your home before the storm.

Your Vehicle

  • Damage to your vehicle if you don’t have Comprehensive Coverage.

What to do if your home, business or vehicle has been damaged:

  • Document damage and take pictures.

  • If safe to do so, make temporary repairs to your home or business to prevent further loss from rain or snow.  Save receipts for reimbursement.

  • Contact your insurance agent or company to file a claim immediately.  Filing a claim quickly enables your insurance company to get to you sooner.

  • Use only licensed, reputable building contractors for repairs and be sure they get the proper building permits.

  • If you’re involved in an auto accident, notify your insurance agent or company immediately to file an insurance claim. Ask what documents are needed to support your claim. Keep records of your expenses related to the accident because they may be reimbursable under your policy. Also, maintain copies of all your paperwork, including the police report and repair estimates.

  • If you do not already have one, create an inventory of your business contents, including equipment essential to your business operations. Visit Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s (IBHS) disaster planning toolkit Open for Business.

  • Develop a home inventory of your personal property.  A complete inventory of your possessions will help you and your adjuster get through the claims process more quickly. Access free, downloadable Home Inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute. 

What to avoid if your home or business has been damaged:

  • Avoid contractors who ask for a large deposit up front or bids that are remarkably low.  This may indicate a willingness to cut corners or leave work unfinished.

  • Don’t pay a lot for temporary repairs unless authorized by your insurance adjuster.  You could get stuck with the bill if the repairs are deemed excessive.

  • Don’t discard anything that is damaged until it has been examined by your adjuster.  You could miss out on coverage for that item.

If you’d like more information on how to protect your family and property from landslides, flood, high winds and snow storms contact the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

The NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.