What You Need to Know About Winter Home Insurance When Extreme Weather Hits

What to do if there's damage to your home or car.

The polar vortex is hitting the Midwest hard, and people are feeling the cold. Fortunately, it’s not expected to last long and warmer weather is right behind it. But although there might be warmer air in the wake of the vortex, there could also be damage to your home or your car. Here’s what you need to know about what your insurance will cover in the case of extreme weather conditions.

1. Most Winter Storm Damage Should Be Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

If your pipes freeze and then burst, your homeowners insurance should cover the damage, as long as you maintained a proper temperature in the house. If your power didn’t go out, and you didn’t leave your home after turning your heat way down, you should be covered. You should also be covered if your roof collapses. Check your policy to see exactly what will be covered.

2. Structural Damage to a Rental Home Is Covered by the Landlord’s Policy

If you rent your home, you should have renters insurance to cover your personal property. Your landlord should maintain coverage on the building. If the roof of the house you rent collapses, your landlord’s policy will cover the cost to replace the roof and any structural damage. Your renter’s policy will cover the cost to replace your damaged furniture and other belongings.

3. You Must Call Your Insurance Company ASAP If You Have a Claim

If you have a claim, call your insurance company right away. Take pictures of the damage and then take steps to prevent any further damage, such as covering a hole in the roof with a tarp. If you incur costs to make these temporary repairs, save your receipts.

Related: Here Are the Most and Least Affordable States for Home Insurance

Bonus Tip: Comprehensive and Collision Coverage Will Cover Auto Damage From Weather

If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, your automobile insurance will cover damage to your car from snow or ice, or from an unexpected run-in with a plow, as well as damage from an accident caused by icy roads. Not all states require this coverage, however, so check your policy to make sure you have it.

See: The Costly Effects the Weather Has on Your Car — and Ways to Minimize Your Expense

Get Insurance Before the Next Storm

If you don’t have insurance, get it before the next storm. Some insurance companies will suspend sales of policies just before a big disaster is due to strike. This might seem cruel, but if they didn’t do this, people wouldn’t carry insurance on their property all the time. They’d rush out to get it just before a disaster.

Learn: How Much It Really Costs to Protect Your Home Against Natural Disasters

Winter storm damage is no fun, but knowing what is covered and how to file a claim will help you get through it.

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