American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Jeffrey Brewer     
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  • FOR RELEASE ON RECEIPT
  • November 21, 2014
  • PCI Offers Insurance Tips and Advice to Avoid Roof Collapses as Western New York Digs Out from Major Snowstorms
  • ALBANY N.Y. – As temperatures rise and the weather forecast in the Buffalo area calls for rain over the weekend, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges residents to stay alert to potential hazards that could lead to water damage and roof collapses.

    “This new weather system on top of the massive snow amounts that have already accumulated has the potential to place significant stress on older, weaker structures,” said Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for PCI. “We encourage homeowners to exercise caution in removing snow from their roof. The dangers associated with extreme weather such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and being injured while trying to remove snow or repair property should not be underestimated. We urge property owners to think safety first and when appropriate, seek experienced professional help in remedying problems.”

    Also with the melting snow and rain, there is an elevated risk of flooding. While some floods take several days to develop, flash floods can occur quickly. As a result, individuals should take steps in advance to prepare. In the event of a flood, consumers who have flood insurance policies can contact either their flood insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program. It is important to remember that flood damage is generally only covered by flood insurance, which is bought as a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Winter storms can cause significant damage and insurers are ready to work with consumers to minimize the inconveniences and help make the claims process go as smoothly as possible. If your home or property has experienced damage, you should report the claim to your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to begin the recovery process.

    PCI offers consumers the following tips for filing claims and preparing for winter storms:

    Cold Weather Homeowners Tips

    • Only trained individuals should go onto roofs to clear snow.
    • Check downspouts, drains and gutters to ensure that they are free from ice or debris.
    • Make sure exhaust vents are clear of snow and ice.
    • Remove snow from decks and roofs.
    • Place salt or sand on stoops and stairs to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

    Tips for Homeowners

    The most frequent problems for homeowners during major snowstorms are power outages, falling trees and damage caused by those falling trees. Consumers should also take note of the following:

    • Stay away from downed power lines, even if they do not appear to be “live.” Call the power company to report any outages.
    • Generally damage to refrigerated food caused by a power failure that originates off the residence premises would not be a covered loss.
    • Damage to trees, shrubs and other plants during an ice storm is not covered under the standard homeowners policy. However, insurance may pay to remove the debris from a fallen tree if it caused damage to a structure covered by insurance.
    • If your tree damages a neighbor’s property, he or she should file a claim with his or her own insurer.
    • If the tree falls on your own house, damage to the house is covered. Generally the policy covers the cost to remove the tree from the house.
    • However if the tree or branch falls and does no damage to a covered structure, generally there is no coverage for the tree or to remove the tree from the premises.

    If your property does sustain damage, take the following action:

    • Report all damage to your insurance company or agent as soon as you can in order to settle your claim more quickly and accurately.
    • If it is safe to do so, take steps to protect your property from further damage and theft by making emergency repairs. Use plywood, tarps and other materials to cover openings in roofs, walls and windows.
    • Keep receipts for anything you buy so you can submit them to your insurance company later.
    • Inventory all damaged property, take pictures of the damage and check with your insurance company before throwing away any damaged property. Identify the structural damage to your home and make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster.

    To settle your claim more quickly and accurately, prepare as much information as possible about your damaged possessions when your insurance adjuster comes to look at your property.

  • PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write more than $195 billion in annual premium, 35 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 42 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 28 percent of the homeowners market, 33 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 35 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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