Winter weather puts pressure on owners of cars and homes

Consumers can protect their property by filing claims quickly.

Several inches of snow can lead to millions of dollars in insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. There are some steps consumers can take to protect their homes and vehicles.

Winter storms cause more than $1 billion in insured losses annually, according to the III, putting them behind only hurricanes and tornadoes in terms of catastrophe losses caused. Most auto insurance policies will protect against accidents resulting from slippery or whiteout driving conditions. The same applies for homeowners insurance.

"Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for a wide range of winter-related disasters such as losses incurred due to burst pipes, wind damage and wind-driven snow and freezing rain," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.

To qualify for coverage, homeowners are required to take reasonable steps in order to prevent pipes from freezing over. This can include keeping the house warm and maintaining pipes and drains, according to the III. Insurance can also cover additional living expenses if an insured home is left uninhabitable.

Homeowners may need to buy additional coverage to protect from damage caused by flooding. This can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, with annual rates starting at $119.ADNFCR-2378-ID-19640551-ADNFCR

Posted: February 26, 2010

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