Insurance and the ice storm damage michigan: Are you covered?

Ice storm damage Michigan 

ice damHundreds of thousands of Michigan residents and business owners have been inconvenienced by the big ice storm that’s swept through southern Michigan, Lapeer and Livingston Counties. And for many of them, it’s also caused costly damage from ice storm damage michigan: falling tree limbs have crashed down on their cars or damaged their homes, power failures have led to huge quantities of spoiled food or frozen pipes, while others have been forced into hotels to keep warm.

A vehicle struck by a fallen tree limb in Ortonville in the wake of the weekend ice storm damage Michigan: Car damage will only be covered by insurance under certain circumstances.

That’s when people start asking: Will insurance pay for any or all of this? Am I covered?

The answer to that depends on individual policies, but here are some general guidelines:

Damage to homes

Damage to homes from falling trees or ice storm damage michigan is generally covered by a homeowner’s policy, says the Insurance Bureau of Michigan. “This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents when water or snow enters through openings caused by high winds,” the IBM says.

Many homeowners’ policies have standard deductibles of $500, so you’ll have to figure out if it’s really worthwhile to make a claim if the damage is minor.

What’s covered by insurance:

Usually covered:

  • Physical damage to home from falling ice, trees, tree limbs, flying debris.
  • Damage to home caused by snow, rain or wind.
  • Damage to home and contents from water or snow entering through opening caused by high winds.

May be covered:

  • Damage to cars and trucks caused by falling ice, falling trees and tree limbs, wind, water, but only if comprehensive or all-perils insurance has been purchased.
  • Homeowners who can’t live in their homes because of insurable damage may be entitled to additional living expenses (such as hotel bills) in some circumstances.

If the damage is caused by your neighbor’s tree, you should still contact your insurance company to report the damage, IBM spokesman said “Your insurer may then go after your neighbor’s insurance company for payment,” he said. If the tree is owned by the city, you should still report the damage to your own insurer. But the damage may be something the city would ultimately be responsible for. He also advised potential claimants to take pictures of any damage “once it’s fresh.”  

A claim for food spoilage or burst water pipes caused by a power failure could also form part of an insurance claim, but there may be limitations from ice storm damage michigan.

What if a big tree goes down in your yard but doesn’t actually cause any damage? Would you be covered for the cleanup and removal of the tree? Probably not. Insurance covers damage to your fences, your roof, eavestroughs, windows, porches and outbuildings. But debris removal from your yard, in the absence of physical property damage, will generally be at your own expense.

For those who’ve chosen to check into a hotel or motel to escape a cold house, the Insurance Bureau of Michigan warns that the hotel bills may not be covered. “If they’re going to a hotel because of insurable damage to their home or if they’re forced to leave their homes by a police order,” they may be entitled to additional living expenses. But if they’re checking into a hotel just to be more comfortable and are not reporting physical property damage, the hotel bills would generally not be covered, he said.

Following the past ice storms that ravaged parts of Michigan, some insurers said they would consider a call by Michigans premier for Michiganders to leave their unheated homes to be “the equivalent of an evacuation order,” and therefore would be covered even if there was no physical damage to the insured property.

Damage to cars

Damage to cars from flying debris, falling ice, trees, or tree limbs is covered only if you have comprehensive or all-perils insurance. This is optional coverage, so check your policy. For those who have purchased this coverage, the deductibles vary widely. The standard deductible is $300, so if the only damage is a broken windshield, it may not be worthwhile to make a claim. On the other hand, if your vehicle has been seriously dented, it’s easy to rack up damage of more than $1,000.

And as with home damage, if you can show that the damage to your vehicle was caused by a neighbour’s tree, your neighbor’s insurance company may ultimately be responsible for the claim.

Will your premiums go up?

People are often reluctant to make small insurance claims because of fears that premiums will go up, even from ice storms which are not considered “at fault” ice storm damage michigan incidents.

The industry acknowledges that this could happen following this ice storm. “Premiums are based on claims records.”  Each insurer will have different responses to ice storm claims, depending on the firm’s own claims experience and on the particular claims record of their client. Someone who has made three claims on their homeowner’s policy in the last five years could well see their premiums rise on renewal. What is the likelihood that premiums will rise? “There is a potential for things to go up.”

Losses by businesses

Thousands of businesses have also incurred major losses from the ice storm damage michigan. Because it occurred just before Christmas, retail stores that have been forced to close have lost thousands of dollars in sales. Many grocery stores without generators have had to dispose of huge quantities of spoiled food.

Commercial insurance policies reflect the individual circumstances of each business, so it’s difficult to come up with general coverage guidelines. Michigan Underwriter estimates that 30 per cent of the claims following the 1998  ice storm were commercial claims, with the average claim being a little more than $8,000.

Property and casualty insurers paid out $1.6 billion for about 840,000 claims following the 1998 ice storm. So far, the industry says it’s still too early to estimate the number and extent of damage claims that will arise from the current ice storm damage michigan.

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