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DIFS Encourages Michiganders to Review Insurance Policies, Take Steps to Avoid Problems Caused by Severe Winter Weather and Cold
February 01, 2022
Media Contact: Laura Hall, 517-290-3779, DIFSfirstname.lastname@example.org
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 1, 2022
(LANSING, MICH) With potentially severe winter weather in the forecast for southern Michigan later this week, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is reminding Michiganders to review their insurance documents and take steps to prevent damage. Winter storms and temperatures below freezing can damage your home or vehicle, and understanding your insurance coverage can help you ensure you are financially protected.
"Dealing with damage to a home or vehicle caused by severe weather is stressful enough, so we encourage Michiganders to review their insurance coverage before experiencing a loss to protect themselves financially," said DIFS Director Anita Fox. "If you are unsure of your policy coverages, contact your insurance agent or company today. Understanding your insurance coverage can provide considerable peace of mind in the event of severe weather damage."
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover winter-related damages like burst pipes, ice dams, wind damage, or a building collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow, but typically exclude coverage for damages resulting from power outages unless they result directly from covered perils such as wind, ice, or snow.
For example, if a branch weighed down with ice and snow falls on your home and causes a power interruption, the food spoiled in a freezer is covered up to the limit specified in your policy as a result of a covered peril.
Homeowners should review their homeowners insurance policy documents, and take steps to help prevent winter damage:
Keep your home warm. The temperature in the home should be at least 65 degrees to prevent the pipes from freezing. If you take a long vacation, have family, friends, or a neighbor check on your house to catch any damage that may occur from burst pipes as quickly as possible.
Keep gutters clean of leaves and debris to prevent ice damming, which occurs when melting ice spreads under roof shingles.
Consider removing trees from the property that have died or are rotting to prevent branches from falling under the weight of snow or ice.
Driving in winter weather can be hazardous even if you are driving slowly and exercising caution. Coverages you may consider purchasing or confirming you currently have include:
Collision Coverage - Provides coverage for damage to your vehicle while driving, should your vehicle collide with another vehicle or hit a tree or utility pole from loss of traction due to ice and snow.
Comprehensive Coverage - Provides coverage when your vehicle has sustained damage that did not result from a collision. Examples include damage from falling tree limbs, hail, or vandalism.
Property Protection - Provides coverage for damage unintentionally caused to another person's property, for example if you slide off the road and damage someone's mailbox. This coverage is one of the three mandatory coverages required to drive legally in Michigan.
In addition to reviewing policy documents, vehicle owners can take steps to prevent winter weather damage by avoiding parking under trees with ice and snow weighing down the branches.
Understanding your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles before damage occurs can help you quickly recover after a damaging winter storm. DIFS encourages consumers to first attempt to resolve any questions or claim disputes directly with their insurance company. If a resolution cannot be reached, DIFS can help. Contact DIFS 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442, or file a complaint by visiting Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints.
The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.