COLUMBUS — Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is encouraging Ohioans to check insurance coverage and policies related to winter weather. Taylor reminds Ohioans that winterizing homes and cars will likely save time and money.
“It is important for all of us to check our vehicles and property for winter, “Taylor said. “I would encourage everyone to review their insurance policies. To better understand coverage options and the claims process, contact the Ohio Department of Insurance, Consumer Services Division.”
Winter in Ohio can be severe and unpredictable. A record amount of snowfall hit the state in 2010 and several other storms over the last decade caused millions of dollars in insured losses.
Taylor suggests Ohioans review insurance policies and communicate with their insurance agents. Ohio Department of Insurance representatives are available to answer questions and explain the claims process by calling toll free 1-800-686-1526. Information is also available at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
Taylor recommends Ohioans take the following steps:
Home Safety Tips:
- Look for missing shingles and broken, overhanging tree limbs on the roof.
- From the attic, inspect the underside of the roof for signs of leaks.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Check water pipe insulation to prevent winter freezes.
- Check heating system and make sure heat is being delivered to all outlets.
- Make sure dryer vent is unobstructed.
- Assemble emergency supplies, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio.
Vehicle Safety Tips:
- Have a mechanic check your vehicle to make sure all systems are running properly.
- Make sure tires have adequate tread and air pressure.
- Keep windshield wiper fluid tank filled and carry an extra container of fluid in your vehicle.
- Carry a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gasoline.
- Carry food, water, blankets and a first aid kit.
Claim Tips for Home Damage:
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Try to protect your property and salvage what you can.
- Closely inspect property for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses, which will assist in settling claims.
- Be sure your agent knows how to contact you if you cannot stay in your home.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for "loss of use" coverage. Many policies cover such expenses up to a stated amount.
- Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
If You’re in an Accident:
- Be safe – Make sure you stay away from moving traffic after an accident. Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation. Move your vehicle out of harm’s way if you are able.
- Assist others if necessary – Check on passengers in your car and in the other vehicle(s) and see if they need help, but only if it doesn’t put you in a dangerous situation. Call emergency personnel if necessary.
- Take photos – Try to take as many photos as possible of the damage. Also, sketch a diagram of the accident, making sure to label your car, any other vehicles involved, streets, highways and other points of interest.
- Exchange information – Obtain the name, address, phone number, date of birth from the other drivers involved in the accident. Also, get the driver’s insurance information, including policy number. If the driver of the car is not the owner of the vehicle, get the insurance information of the vehicle as well. Do not discuss who is at fault or other details in relation to the cause of the accident.
- Get witness information – Get the contact information of those who may have seen the accident. Your insurance company and/or police may want to speak to them later.
- File a police report – If the accident is not serious, you do not need to call the police to have them write a report at the scene. Police may be too busy to respond to a minor accident. If this is the case, you can move your vehicles to the side of the road, exchange information and file a report at a later time. If an officer does come to the scene, make sure to request his official identification information such as name and badge number.