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Winter weather insurance: what’s covered and what’s not

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SEATTLE — Winter weather can cause a lot of damage to homes, vehicles and businesses, so it is important to know what is covered and what is not covered by insurance.

Back in December, a rare tornado touched down in the city Port Orchard.

Then, a string of wind storms made a huge mess across the region.

“A lot of people are surprised to find out that if a neighbor’s tree falls onto their property or onto their house and damages it, it’s your insurance company that will have to pay things out,” said Derek Wing, the Communications Manager at PEMCO Insurance. “That’s because a tree falling over is considered an act of nature unless the neighbor knew that the tree was dying and did nothing about it.”

Wing said you should keep in good communication with your neighbor.

Power outages are common during wind storms.

Wing said most policies would cover electronics and appliances that got fried in a lightning strike or power surge. It would also cover spoiled food, but Wing advises people to think twice before filing a claim.

“Once you pay the deductible you might not be getting that much money back after that,” said Wing. “Sometimes if you file a claim, you will lose your claim-free discount, so if that happens to you, you want to think long and hard whether it’s really worth it to file the claim or just pay it out of pocket.”

If your home is damaged, you should save receipts for temporary repairs, but don’t start any permanent repairs until you’ve talked to your insurance company.

Here are some examples of what homeowner’s insurance usually covers:

  • Wind storm damage like peeled roof shingles
  • Structure damage from fallen trees
  • Water damage from burst pipes
  • Damage from lightning, power outages and electrical surges

Examples of what is not usually covered:

  • Flooding other than from burst pipes
  • Mudslide damage
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