TRENTON – The winter season brings thoughts of skiing on snowy slopes for some while for others it means getting away from it all and traveling to a warmer climate. Whether New Jersey consumers prefer warm or cold vacation destinations, or just opt to stay at home, the season can bring unforeseen insurance coverage issues.
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Tom Considine today suggested Garden State consumers review their insurance policies to ensure that they are covered for seasonal specific occurrences. This includes understanding what coverage they are provided when they are travelling, as well as protections provided by both their homeowners and automobile insurance policies.
“It is important for consumers to remember that winter activities, whether it is plowing snow, riding a snowmobile or simply traveling to a warmer climate, can have implications on insurance coverage,” said Commissioner Considine. “I urge consumers to review their policies and make sure they know what is and what is not covered.”
Homeowners and Renters Insurance
At home, it is important for property owners to understand the types of winter storm-related damages covered by their homeowners policy. Standard homeowners policies typically cover damage caused by falling trees and limbs, collapses caused by the weight of ice and snow or ice dam leakage.
Homeowners policies also generally include liability coverage for accidents such as slip and falls on snow or ice as well as medical payments for others, up to certain limits, regardless of liability.
Before heading to the ski lodge, you should check your homeowners or renters policy. Your ski or snowboarding equipment will generally be covered by your homeowners or renters policy up to a certain limit. Check the limit in your policy and decide if that will be enough to replace the gear if it is damaged or stolen. When checking, remember to factor in your deductible.
Standard auto insurance policies do not include coverage for snowmobiles. If you are planning to purchase a snowmobile, consult with your insurer about your coverage needs. Be aware that if you plan to take your snowmobile off your private property, you should probably maintain a separate snowmobile policy and carry proof of insurance. If you are traveling and plan to rent a snowmobile, you may want to consider rental insurance.
Helping friends by volunteering to remove the snow in their driveway with your own plow should not lead to problems. Your personal auto policy should cover any liability or property damage you might cause but check your policy to make sure. However, if you use the plow commercially, you should contact your auto insurance company to determine if a commercial auto policy is required.
Because you may be out of town without access to your family physician or local hospital, make sure to review your health insurance policy’s emergency medical treatment requirements. For example, you may be required to seek assistance at a certain hospital or urgent care center in order to avoid more costly charges at a facility that is not in your insurer’s network. Also review your emergency room co-pay and verify that any needed prescriptions will be covered by a nearby pharmacy.
At home or on the road, crowded doctor’s offices during cold and flu season may make a visit for minor symptoms more difficult. Your health insurance may include a nurse answer line or a treatment center at a local pharmacy.
For those heading away from winter weather this time of year, a trip can be uncertain. Airports around the U.S. and Europe have already experienced delays and cancellations due to winter weather. Travel sites and airlines offer travel insurance for people worried about not getting to their destination or getting stuck far away from home. Travel insurance can cover lost luggage, and expenses caused by delays and cancellations.
For additional information on insurance matters go to: www.njdobi.org.