Old Man Winter Arrives Early This Year Wreaking Havoc To Homes, Businesses and Vehicles

The I.I.I. Outlines What Winter-Related Damage is Covered by Standard Policies

Contact: Press Offices
New York: 212-346-5500; media@iii.org
Washington, D.C.: 202-833-1580

NEW YORK, December 14, 2007 - Winter, which officially starts on December 22, has arrived early in many parts of the country, causing damage to properties and vehicles from sleet, ice and snow. Wet, heavy snow has caused collapsed roofs, porches, awnings, carports and outbuildings. A significant amount of damage has been caused from downed trees and limbs, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Winter storms are the third-largest cause of loss, resulting in about $1 billion in insured losses annually, said the I.I.I. Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1987-2006, winter storms resulted in more than $23 billion in insured losses. In March 1993, a 20-state winter storm caused a whopping $1.7 billion in insured losses.

Standard homeowners and business insurance policies provide coverage for a wide range of winter-related disasters such as losses incurred due to burst pipes, wind damage and wind-driven rain as well as damage caused by downed trees and limbs or other falling objects. Home and business insurance typically cover for "ice damming"-a condition where water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house, damaging ceilings and walls.

Damage to homes caused by flooding is excluded from standard homeowner policies. Flood insurance is available from the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program.

Automobile accidents resulting from slippery weather are covered under a standard auto insurance policy. Damage to autos from falling branches or other debris is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto policy.

"Homeowners and businessowners who have suffered losses need to contact their insurance company or agent as soon as possible to start the claims filing process," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.

With temperatures dropping, it is important to keep pipes from freezing by keeping your home at least 65 degrees, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The temperature inside the walls where pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees may not keep the pipes from freezing. Ideally, the attic should be five to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air.

"Everyone should know how to shut their water off," said Wendy Rose with IBHS. "If water freezes and pipes burst, time is of the essence to keep damage to a minimum and prevent it from becoming a personal financial disaster."

For more information on consumer safety tips and homeowner winter weather preparations, go to the Institute for Business & Home Safety Web site.

For more information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.

The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

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