COLUMBUS — Taking a few extra steps before winter sets in will help keep you safer and less at risk of incurring damage to your property and vehicle, said Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor.
Ohio’s Winter Safety Awareness Week is Nov. 16-22 and the Ohio Department of Insurance and other partners in the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness say now is the time to get ready for what could be another rough winter.
“A handful of basic proactive steps to protect your property and home could help avoid potential safety issues and also decrease the chance of having to file an insurance claim,” Taylor said. “It’s important Ohioans act now to prepare for winter and also talk with their insurance agent to ensure they have adequate financial protection.”
To winterize your property, you should: 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 the dryer vent is unobstructed. Assemble emergency supplies, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio.
Getting your vehicle primed for the cold, includes: Have a mechanic check that 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.
If you do encounter a situation when you need to file a property insurance claim:
- Call your insurance agent/company as soon as possible.
- Try to protect your property and salvage what you can.
- Closely inspect your property for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for "loss of use" coverage.
- Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
If you’re in an accident and have to file a claim:
- Make sure you stay away from moving traffic after an accident.
- Check well-being of passengers in your vehicle and other vehicle(s), only if it doesn’t put you in danger. Call emergency personnel if necessary.
- Take photos/video of the damage and accident scene.
- Only share names, contact information and vehicle insurance information. Do not share personal information that would lead to identity theft.
- 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.
- 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 file a report later.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 800-686-1526. Insurance information, including the Department’s auto and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance consumer guides, are available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on Facebook and Twitter. Free mobile smartphone insurance apps myHome Inventory and WreckCheck are available in your carriers’ downloadable apps marketplace.
Important safety information is available on the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness’ website, www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.