Insurance Superintendent Urges Mainers to Plan for Winter by Checking Insurance Coverage

Frozen pipes

Image by Paul L McCord Jr via Flickr

Kofman Notes that Too Many People are Unaware of What’s Covered and What Isn’t

AUGUSTA, MAINE – Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman is urging Mainers to plan ahead for winter storms, weather-related emergencies, and accidental fires associated with heating sources, holiday decorations and other potential winter hazards. Homeowners and renters are encouraged to check their insurance policies and make sure their coverage is sufficient to address property damage.

“This is the time of year to make sure your home or apartment is protected from storms and other potential winter hazards,” Superintendent Kofman stated. “It can be heart-breaking to learn too late that your homeowners or renter policy doesn’t cover a particular loss.”

Kofman outlined common examples of winter-related property damage that is usually covered by standard policies:

  • damage caused by wind or wind-driven rain;
  • trees or other falling objects;
  • the collapse of a structure caused by the weight of ice or snow; and
  • frozen pipes due to extreme cold—unless the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when it was possible to do so.

Examples of damage that many people believe are covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy, but generally aren’t, were also highlighted by Kofman:

  • interior water damage from a storm when there is no storm-related damage to the roof or walls;
  • water 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; and
  • water damage from backed-up drains or sewers.

Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that you can buy) for specific coverage not included in the standard homeowner policy. Superintendent Kofman advises homeowners and renters to check with their insurance agent or company to ask questions, determine needs, and ensure adequate coverage.

To prepare for future storms and possible natural disasters, the Bureau of Insurance urges Mainers to:

  • Plan now for a possible future claim. Inventory personal property, including all model names and serial numbers. Don’t overlook items used seasonally or infrequently, such as special china and silverware, holiday decorations, summer and winter sports equipment, and carpentry tools. Save sales receipts and take photographs. Consider videotaping rooms. Store the information off-premises, such as in a bank safe deposit box.
  • Review insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate. It is important to insure your home and belongings to their full replacement cost. Flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowner’s policies, so ask your agent about the National Flood Insurance Program. If you rent a house or apartment, talk to your agent about renters’ insurance.
  • Learn the facts about flood insurance. You can protect your home, business, and belongings with flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP flood insurance can be purchased from private insurance companies and agents. Whether you rent or own your home or business, ask your agent about contents coverage. It is not automatically included with the NFIP building coverage. There is usually a 30-day waiting period before the flood coverage goes into effect. For information, contact NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov.

Contact the Bureau of Insurance if you have questions related to recent damage, or if you’d like additional information in order to prepare for the future, by calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 or visiting http://www.maine.gov/insurance.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Bureau through its web site at http://www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

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