For Immediate Release - December 26, 2012

State Office of Consumer Affairs and Division of Insurance Encourage Preparedness in Advance of Snow Storm

BOSTON - With the some parts of the state expecting as much as six to eight inches of snow overnight, the Patrick-Murray Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and its Division of Insurance are encouraging consumers to take proactive steps to protect their property from flood and wind damage.

"As we have learned from the weather related events of the past two years, it is always better to be over prepared for storms," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "We encourage consumers to become familiar with what is covered under their insurance policies to help mitigate potential impacts of this storm. A little extra work now can go a long way."

In some areas of the state, like Cape Cod, many insurers include wind deductibles as part of a policy. Most carriers apply the deductible as a percentage to the dwelling limit on the policy, typically ranging from 1 to 5 percent. For example, a deductible of three percent and a $200,000 dwelling limit means the consumer pays all covered wind-related losses up to $6,000 before the insurance company pays for any losses.

"Consumers should check their policies so they understand what is covered in the likelihood they are affected by the storm," said Commissioner of Insurance Joseph Murphy. "We get a lot of questions after snow storms about what is covered if the power goes out, such as food in the fridge, and the answer often lies in the policy."

To prepare your property for this storm or future snow or high -wind storms, the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Insurance offer the following tips.

Prepare a home inventory: To make the claims process easier, it is imperative to have a complete list of the belongings in your home. An inventory should include all of the vital information about your belongings (brand name, price, date of purchase, model, serial number and receipts) and should be accompanied by photos of the items. If you do not have time to create a comprehensive list of the items in your home, then quickly videotape and/or photograph every room. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for your insurance company to evaluate your loss. When making your list, make sure to open drawers and closets, and do not forget to take stock of what is in your garage and storage buildings.

Before the storm:

  • Trim dead wood and weak or overhanging branches from all trees;
  • Check and secure anchoring for covered porches;
  • Move all outdoor furniture, grilles, hanging plants, holiday decorations and other transportable items indoors or to a secure outdoor location;
  • Reinforce garage doors so that they are able to withstand high winds;
  • Install head and foot bolts to doors;
  • Unplug all electronics so that when the power comes back on there is not a power surge
  • Know where your insurance policies are and check to see what is covered; tree removal,
    food spoilage and water damage from melting snow may or may not be covered.
  • Make arrangements for snow removal
  • Stock up on sand and/or rock salt to melt snow or ice

After the storm:

  • Be vigilant. Do not try to re-enter your home or attempt repairs until it is safe to do so;
  • Keep children and pets away from downed or low-hanging power lines;
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible;
  • Do not make permanent repairs until the adjuster has inspected the property - but do take action to prevent further damage, like covering holes in the roof or removing water;
  • Take pictures of any storm related damage to your property or belongings, particularly if you must throw away items of value that are bacteria-laden;
  • Keep a record of all receipts, and document any time you spent securing your property, and your conversations with the insurance company.
  • The Office of Consumer Affairs encourages homeowners and businesses who need repairs done to use a registered contractor or licensed electrician to do work. Contractor registrations and histories can be looked up online at www.mass.gov/consumer. Electricians and other professionals can be checked at www.mass.gov/dpl.

Consumers with insurance concerns should contact the Division of Insurance at (877) 563-4467 or (617) 521-7794. The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Follow the Division at www.mass.gov/doi or its Twitter feed, @MassDOI. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation provides a range of consumer information at www.mass.gov/consumer, through its Consumer Connections blog, and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.

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