AAA encourages residents to take steps to stay safe on the roads and prevent costly winter weather damage.
PRESS RELEASE – Winter storms are the fourth-largest cause of catastrophe losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Between 2011 and 2020 winter storms caused an average of $2.1 million in insured losses each year. Since not all winter-related damages are covered by an insurance policy, it’s important to take steps to prevent crashes and other losses before they occur.
Preventing Winter Crashes:
Adverse weather conditions are responsible for nearly half-a-million crashes and more than 2,000 deaths on U.S. roadways each winter, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. When winter weather hits, it’s best to stay off the roads, if possible. If that’s not possible, take the following precautions to minimize risk in wintery conditions:
- Prepare your vehicle by checking tire pressure, windshield wipers, fluid levels and lights, and fill the gas tank at least halfway.
- Leave early – expect trips to take longer in bad weather.
- Slow down! Drive for the conditions, not the posted speed limit.
- Keep sufficient distance between vehicles.
- Stop gradually. Never slam on the brakes!
- If you start to slide, take your feet off the pedals and keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, instead of on the obstacle you’re trying to avoid.
- Additional information on avoiding skids is available on AAA’s website.
If a crash or other vehicle-related loss does occur, auto insurance can help cover damage, but not all insurance policies are the same.
- Liability Coverage will only pay for damage or injury expenses to other people caused by the policyholder.
- Collision Coverage will help the policyholder with the cost of any vehicle damage caused by a collision, even if that policyholder is at fault.
- Comprehensive Coverage will cover damage caused by something other than a collision, such as an icy limb falling on a vehicle.
Emergency roadside assistance calls can double or triple during a winter storm, which means it will likely take help longer to get to you. That’s why it’s always important to be prepared with an emergency roadside kit that includes blankets and extra clothes to stay warm, flashlights and extra batteries, an ice scraper, safety reflectors, a shovel, a first aid kit, a simple tool kit, water and non-perishable food, jumper cables and a mobile phone and charger to call for help.
Preventing Damage At Home:
Winter storms and cold can cause ice dams, frozen pipes and falling icicles, and more. Luckily, home insurance policies will cover the majority of these mishaps.
- Ice dams: Frozen or clogged gutters that force melting water into roofs are generally covered. When ice dams melt, water drips into the home and can cause significant damage. Icicles are a good indication of ice damming. Dwelling coverage may help for damages caused by this common home insurance claim, but it may not pay for the removal of the ice dam itself.
- Burst and frozen pipes: Homeowners insurance typically covers damage caused by burst and frozen pipes if homeowners have taken preventative measures, such as leaving homes heated at reasonable temperatures. However, policies may not cover the cost to repair the section of the broken pipe.
- Basement flooding from melting snow: Melting snow that seeps into the ground and through foundation walls is considered a maintenance problem, not sudden and accidental damage, and may not be covered.
- Sewer and drain back-up: While this is not typically covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, consumers can purchase water and sewer back-up endorsements to provide additional coverage for water or sewage back-up into homes.
AAA’s insurance agents say the first thing to do after a winter storm is to assess the property and make appropriate, temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Next, review your insurance policy, so you know repairs will be covered.
For additional insurance insights on this and other topics, visit AAA’s Insurance Insights page.
AAA provides more 62 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.