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Insurance department offers winter storm damage tips
Heavy snow and ice coupled with high winds and freezing temperatures have caused a number of issues for homeowners in recent weeks. The State Insurance Department recently issued a series of useful tips for homeowners whose property sustained any sort of damage due to the inclement weather.
The most common forms of winter storm damage include collapses due to snow and burst pipes as a result of freezing temperatures. Damages to homes and property from these events is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Damage resulting from fallen trees is also covered, but consumers should check with their company before calling a tree removal service since removal costs may also be included in the policy. Consumers should also check with their insurance company about coverage for food spoilage as a result of a power outage, debris clean-up, structural damage, rain spouts, sewage problems and furnace damage.
In the event of damage to a home or property due to inclement weather, the Insurance Department urges consumers to contact their insurance company immediately and follow all instructions given by claims personnel. Damaged and undamaged property should be separated for the adjuster to examine, and damaged property should not be thrown away without consulting the insurance adjuster. Instructions from the adjuster should also be sought before calling a professional to repair or replace a loss. Only temporary repairs should be made before the adjuster arrives, as permanent repairs could trigger a denial of your claim.
It is also important for consumers to be careful when choosing a contractor to make repairs. When selecting a contractor, homeowners should check references before signing a contract to ensure they are dealing with a reputable individual or company.
In the event of a dispute, policyholders may file an appeal to the insurance company’s claim manager. More information is available by visiting insurance.pa.gov or calling the department’s toll-free consumer hotline at (877) 881-6388.
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning
Hundreds of Americans are killed each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning produced through the burning of fossil fuels. The Office of the State Fire Commissioner encourages Pennsylvania residents to take a number of precautions to protect against exposure to this deadly gas.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that inhibits the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Even low levels of exposure can lead to severe sickness, and high doses are potentially lethal for adults, children and animals. The most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home are furnaces, water heaters, automobiles, grills, fireplaces and other fuel-fired appliances.
The Office of the State Fire Commissioner urges state residents to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of their home and change the batteries in these devices twice a year. Residents can also minimize the risk of exposure to high doses of carbon monoxide by ensuring their home has adequate fresh air venting, avoiding the use of gas-powered equipment or automobiles in the home or garage, and having a service professional examine appliances and equipment once a year to prevent malfunctions.
More information on ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is available online at osfc.state.pa.us. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website also offers a wealth of information regarding the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning at cdc.gov.
Sen. Brubaker represents the Ephrata area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Review. His local office is located at 301 E. Main St., Lititz. To contact him, call 627-0036.
For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and ChesterCounty residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.