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Home > Consumers > Homeowners > Storms and winter weather
Storms and winter weather

Storm preparedness and winter weather tips

1. Prepare for the worst

  • Make an evacuation plan. Choose two places to meet: one right outside your home for a sudden emergency such as a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
  • Create an emergency kit. Include bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and a small amount of cash.
  • Make a plan for your pets. Red Cross supported-shelters won't take pets; other shelters may. Check with your local veterinary for help with a plan.
  • Take proactive steps to protect your property from loss. Be sure there is no loose siding on your home and no damaged or diseased trees growing over your home.

2. Take an inventory of your property

  • Take photos or videos of your home to record the condition of the home. Email the photos to yourself, a friend or relative or store them online.
  • Take an inventory of your personal property such as clothes, jewelry, furniture, computers and audio/video equipment. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim simpler. Leave a copy of your inventory with friends or relatives, email it to yourself and/or store it in a safe location. In addition, add insurance information to your inventory information - the name of your company and agent, policy number, and contact information. Download a free home inventory app or template.
  • Move all of your important documents to a safe location. Take them with you when you evacuate or store them in a safe deposit box outside the area.

3. Review your insurance coverage

  • What does your insurance policy cover? What does it exclude?
  • The standard homeowners' insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Check if your policy covers debris removal and sewer back-up.
  • Find out if your policy covers additional living expenses to reimburse you for the cost of living in a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home.
  • If you have jewelry or collectibles, check the limits of coverage. You may want to buy more coverage for these items.
  • What is your deductible? You will have to pay at least this much if you have a covered loss.
  • Understand the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value. If your coverage is for replacement cost value and the cost to repair the property is greater than the cost to replace the property, the insurance company will reimburse you the dollar amount needed to replace damaged personal property or dwelling property with like kind and quality, limited by the maximum dollar amount show on the declarations page of the policy. For example, if you own a five-year old lawn mower that is destroyed by a fire, the company will reimburse you with an amount to purchase a new, similar lawn mower, less your deductible.

    If your coverage is for actual cash value and the cost to repair the property is greater than the actual cash value of the property, the insurance company will reimburse you the dollar amount to replace the property less the amount of accumulated depreciation. For example, if that same lawn mower was destroyed, and the average lawn mower lasts ten years, the company will only reimburse you for half (10 years minus 5 years) of the cost of the item, less your deductible.

4. After disaster strikes

  • Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Keep a diary of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors or relief agencies.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don't have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you can't live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
  • Get more than one bid. Ask for at least three references. Check with the N.D. Secretary of State and the Better Business Bureau about the contractor. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance and bonding. Record the license plate number and driver's license number of the contractor.
  • Contact the North Dakota Insurance Department if you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement.


 



Winter weather and insurance

Snow and ice can cause severe damage to properties and vehicles. It is important to know what to do when your home is damaged or if you are involved in an automobile accident.

What to do if damage occurs to your home

  • Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask what documents, forms, and data you'll need.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred for accommodations while repairs are being made and save all receipts to document these costs.

What damage to your home is covered?

Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, damage to your home from trees or other falling objects, collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowners policies. Frozen pipes as the result of extreme cold weather may not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there.

What damage to your home is NOT covered?

Interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home, damage as the result of a flood, removal of fallen trees (if the trees did not land on and damage your home), food spoilage due to a power outage and water damage from backed-up drains or sewers are not covered under most standard homeowners policies. Some insurers offer endorsements (additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverages not covered under the standard homeowner policy, so check with your agent or company to determine your needs.

If you are in an automobile accident

  • Call the police.
  • Obtain information such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers and license numbers of all persons involved in the accident and all witnesses. Also, record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of the vehicles involved, insurance information, apparent damage and injuries, and your version of what happened. Call your insurance agent or insurance company with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms, and data you'll need.
  • Take notes each time you talk to your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or others involved in the situation. Write down the dates, times, names and subjects you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
  • Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable and save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental or towing and storage of your damaged car.
  • Download WreckCheck, a free app to assist you following a car accident.


Tips on winterizing your home and vehicle (ready.gov)


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North Dakota Insurance Department
600 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Phone 701.328.2440
Toll free 800.247.0560
Fax 701.328.4880

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