Avoid an Insurance Freeze this Winter:
Consumer considerations for the winter months
Seeing someone slipping on ice might be humorous in movies and viral videos, but personal injury and automobile accidents during winter weather are no laughing matter. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reminds you to review your insurance policies and to consider these tips as the winter season approaches.
Winter weather can be a challenge for all drivers. Before you go dashing through the snow, check your auto policy to confirm it's appropriate for your needs. A new luxury vehicle will require a different level of coverage than an older car. You should also check your liability limits to make sure you have adequate protection against injury or damage if you or one of your drivers causes an accident, whether it's a minor fender bender or a multi-car incident. To protect yourself, you should consider having the appropriate level of collision coverage and comprehensive (to protect you from damaging road hazards such as chunks of ice).
Additionally, make sure you know what to do if you or your teenage driver gets in a wreck. Always keep a copy of your insurance card and your insurance provider's contact information in the car. To take the stress out of filing a claim after an accident, the NAIC created WRECKCHECK, a free smartphone app that walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident. You can then email the report directly to your insurance agent. WRECKCHECK is available for Apple and Android devices as well as in PDF form.
Your homeowners or renter's policy can protect you against common winter debacles, so check your policy before the first winter storm. If someone slips on ice on your property and is injured, your homeowners policy will pay for some medical expenses, but ask your insurance provider if you have adequate liability limits. If you rent, your landlord may be responsible for keeping ice from the sidewalks, but check your lease carefully as the landlord may have transferred that responsibility to you.
A standard homeowners policy will also provide coverage, subject to your deductible, if your home suffers damage during a winter storm or a house fire. Some policies offer additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home during repairs. Check with your insurance provider to determine what your policy covers.
It's important to do an insurance check-up on your current health plan – especially if you are considering new options, such as updated plans offered by your employer or your state marketplace. Make sure to check provider lists and take note of your co-pays and deductibles for in- and out-of-network providers. Once you have decided on a plan, read through your policy and keep your insurance card handy in the event of winter illnesses – like norovirus or the flu – or accidents. Your health insurance may offer a variety of alternatives to waiting at the doctor's office or a trip to the emergency room. Ask your insurance provider if they have a nurse help hotline that can answer questions about your symptoms or if your pharmacy has an urgent care center that will accept your insurance.
If you are traveling during the winter months, review your policy and make a list of pharmacies, urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance in your destination city. Prior to leaving town, it is also a good idea to check with your insurance company about your destination's in-network healthcare. If you receive care from an out-of-network provider, you could pay more for treatment. Bring this information and health insurance cards for all family members with you when you travel.
It's already a winter wonderland at many ski resorts in the country. But before you hit the slopes or take out the snowmobile, check your homeowners or renter's policy. Generally, ski equipment you own will be covered by your homeowners or renter's policy if it's lost or stolen. On the other hand, snowmobiles are not covered by homeowners, renter's or auto policies. Ask your insurance agent if you need more coverage on your sporting equipment or need to purchase a separate snowmobile policy.
Some of us survive the chills of winter with a warm weather escape. Regardless of where you're going, winter travel can be uncertain. Delays or cancellations are inevitable. You may want to consider travel insurance, which can cover everything from lost luggage to delays and cancellations.
For questions about your insurance options or insurance coverage, contact your state insurance department.