The winter storm season is always a good time to evaluate your insurance coverage. Is your home covered for damage by floods, wind, or cold weather?
- Most homeowner and renter policies do not cover flood damage. However, you can buy flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- The policy generally does not take effect until 30 days after purchase.
- You can buy flood insurance from a licensed private insurance company or an independent property and casualty insurance agent in Oregon. Call NFIP at 888-379-9531 (toll-free) for an agent referral.
- Generally, your policy will not cover groundwater seepage or water damage from backed-up drains or sewers. However, some insurers offer a small amount of coverage and others offer endorsements (added protection) that you can buy for water backup. Check with your agent or company.
- If a tree falls on your house, your homeowner policy should cover the damage. If the tree belongs to a neighbor, your insurance company will investigate whether there is any responsibility on the part of the neighbor.
- Homeowner policies generally pay to remove debris from your home or outbuildings if a falling tree causes damage. However, if a tree falls and does not damage the residence, the typical policy does not pay to remove the tree.
- If you have trees that present a danger, you should remove them at your expense.
- If the wind blows a few shingles off your house, your insurance company will likely replace the damaged shingles, but will not provide you with an entirely new roof. Repairing the damage done by the “covered loss,” in this case the wind, is the company’s responsibility. Home maintenance is your responsibility. If a tree falls on your car, the damage may be covered if you have comprehensive insurance, which covers you for physical damage other than collision. This type of insurance is optional. While we are required to carry liability insurance to pay for damage we cause to others, Oregon law does not require us to buy insurance to protect our own property.
- Homeowner policies generally cover damage to your house from the weight of ice and snow, but do not cover damage to a retaining wall, foundation, fence, or paved area.
- If your home (or dwelling) is unoccupied, maintain heat in the building or shut off and empty the water supply.
- Your homeowner policy will not cover earth movement, which includes landslides, mudflows, and erosion. You can usually add earthquake coverage for an additional premium. However, earthquake insurance does not cover a loss caused by landslides or erosion. Specialty coverage for landslides may be available; contact an insurance agent.
What to do if your property is damaged
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Protect your property from further damage (save receipts).
- Don’t make permanent repairs until your insurer inspects the damage.
- Make a detailed list of the damaged property, including brand names and model names.
- Take photographs or videotape the damage.