COLUMBUS — Last on most peoples’ lists of how they want to spend time during the bitter cold of winter are dealing with clogged gutters, a leaky roof or the potential hazards of driving on icy roads with worn tires.
To not only help keep Ohioans warmer, but safer and even help them save money, Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor says that Ohio’s winter awareness safety week Nov. 17-23 is when you should winterize your home, vehicle and review your insurance coverage with an insurance agent.
“Unpredictable and severe winter weather in Ohio can damage homes and cause for hazardous travel conditions,” Taylor said. “Taking proactive steps to protect your property and vehicle can help address potential safety issues and decrease the likelihood of having to file an insurance claim.”
In preparation for winter, Ohioans should review their insurance policies with an agent. Consumers should also utilize the Department’s homeowners and auto insurance guides available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Department experts are available at 1-800-686-1526 to answer insurance questions. You can follow the Department on twitter @OHInsurance and Facebook, www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.
In addition, the free mobile smartphone insurance apps myHome Inventory and WreckCheck are available in your carriers’ downloadable apps marketplace. The apps help maintain inventory of your possessions and simplify the information exchange process after an auto accident. They will also be helpful during a potential claim filing situation.
To best prepare for winter, Taylor recommends Ohioans take the following steps:
Home Safety Tips:
- Clean out gutters and downspouts.
- Look for missing shingles and broken, overhanging tree limbs.
- Inspect the underside of the roof from the attic for signs of leaks.
- Check water pipe insulation to prevent winter freezes.
- 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 your windshield wiper fluid tank filled and maintain at least a half tank of gasoline.
- Get a windshield scraper and brush for ice and snow removal.
- Carry a snack, water, extra warm attire, blankets and a first aid kit.
Claim Tips for Home Damage:
- Call your insurance agent/company as soon as possible.
- Be sure your agent knows how to contact you if you cannot stay in your home.
- Try to protect your property and salvage what you can.
- Closely inspect your property for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.
- 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.
- 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 pictures as possible of the damage and accident scene.
- Exchange information. Consumers generally need only to share their names and correct vehicle insurance information, which should include the phone numbers of the insurance providers. Sharing additional personal information could put your identity at risk.
- 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 do a report at the scene. You can move your vehicles to the side of the road, exchange information and then file a report later.
Important safety information is available on the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness’ website at www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.