Preventive measures and appropriate insurance can lead to savings
COLUMBUS, OH – December 16, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — As Ohioans recover from the season’s first winter storm, Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson is reminding them that property damage caused by snow, freezing rain, and cold temperatures can be avoided if they take a few easy steps to protect their homes and vehicles.Routine maintenance can also help consumers avoid claims on their homeowner and/or auto policies, helping to keep premiums down and save money.
“Ohioans know that we will more than likely experience several winter storms this season. It’s not too late to limit and potentially avoid any damage to your home and/or automobile. The best way to do that is to be prepared ahead of time,” Director Hudson said. “If you do experience damage, please call the Department’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-686-1526. We have a staff of insurance professionals who can assist you with claims filing and answer insurance questions.”
The Ohio Department of Insurance recommends consumers take the following steps when preparing a home and/or automobile for the winter season:
HOME SAFETY TIPS
- Look for missing shingles and broken, overhanging tree limbs on the roof.
- Inspect the underside of the roof, from the attic, for signs of leaks.
- Clean out gutters and downspouts.
- Check water pipe insulation to prevent winter freezes.
- Check heating system and make sure heat is being delivered to all outlets.
- Make sure dryer vent is unobstructed.
- Assemble emergency supplies, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio.
CLAIM TIPS FOR HOME DAMAGE
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Try to protect your property and salvage what you can.
- Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.
- Be sure your agent knows how to contact you if you cannot stay in your home.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage. Many policies cover such expenses up to a stated amount.
- Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
VEHICLE SAFETY TIPS
- Have a mechanic check your vehicle to make sure all systems are running properly.
- Make sure tires have adequate tread and air pressure.
- Keep windshield wiper fluid tank filled and carry an extra container of fluid in your vehicle.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gasoline.
- Carry food, water, blankets and a first aid kit.
IF YOU ARE IN AN ACCIDENT
- Be safe! Make sure you stay away from moving traffic after an accident. Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation. Move your vehicle out of harm’s way if you are able.
- Assist others if necessary – Check on passengers in your car and in the other vehicle(s) and see if they need help, but only if it doesn’t put you in a dangerous situation. Call emergency personnel if necessary
- Take photos – Try to take as many pictures as possible of the damage. Also, sketch a diagram of the accident, making sure to label your car, any other vehicles involved, streets, highways and other points of interest.
- Exchange information – Get the name, address, phone number, date of birth from the other drivers involved in the accident. Also, get the driver’s insurance information, including policy. If the driver of the car is not the owner of the vehicle, get the insurance information of the vehicle as well. Do not discuss whose fault the accident was.
- Get witness information – Get the contact information of those who may have seen the accident. Your insurance company and/or police may want to speak to them later.
- File a police report – If the accident is not serious, you do not need to call the police to have them do a report at the scene. Police may also be too busy to respond to a minor accident. If this is the case, you can move your vehicles to the side of the road, exchange information and then file a report later. If an officer does come to the scene, make sure to get his information as well (name, badge number, etc.).
If consumers have questions about their insurance coverage, they can call the Department’s toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. The Department’s website at www.insurance.ohio.gov also has valuable information regarding all types of insurance, including auto and homeowners.