NEWBERRY — This past week’s winter weather from Winter Storm Pax had the potential to damage homes, cars, and businesses throughout Newberry County, as well as South Carolina.
Winter related incidents such as burst pipes, ice damage, and damage caused by the heavy weight of snow and ice should be covered under standard homeowner’s policies. Special policies are also available for automobile coverage.
The S.C. Insurance News Service provides the following tips for filing a claim after a storm such as Pax:
• Survey the damage and notify your insurance company of any losses. Provide your agent with a copy of your home inventory if you have one. Important: Leave a number where you can be contacted if you are not at home.
• Make any temporary repairs necessary to protect property from further damage. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs to prevent further destruction. Keep all receipts for materials used.
• Do not dispose of damaged personal property until an adjuster has had the opportunity to look at it.
• If it is safe to access the area, take photographs or video to document damaged property.
• Find your insurance policy and have your policy number handy when you are ready to make your claim.
George Summer with Summer Insurance Agency LLC in Newberry said that the most damage claims they have responded to so far since last week’s storm were collapsed buildings and carports due to the heavy weight of snow and ice.
“We haven’t had any claims for cars at this point,” Summer said.
The S.C. Insurance News Service also offers tips for selecting a contractor once your claim has been processed:
• Take your time in choosing a contractor. Contact more than one company and get written estimates for the proposed job.
• Investigate the performance of any repair contractor you consider hiring. Ask for references and check them.
• Never give a deposit until you have checked the company thoroughly and have a written contract.
• Talk to your insurance company yourself about the damage claim. A contractor cannot speak for your insurer or the details of your policy. Insurers may also be able to offer advice about hiring contractors and vendors to help with repairs.
Post-storm car checks are also important after a winter storm such as the one we experienced last week in Newberry County. Small winter damage to a car now, could cause larger problems in the future. Some steps to consider for post storm car care include tire pressure, fluids, filters, battery, wipers, and having an emergency car kit on hand.
Valvoline Instant Oil Change recommends that car owners check their tire pressure because under-inflated or worn tires are common problems that can be dangerous on slick, icy roads. Air pressure will drop in a tire during winter’s cold temperatures. Correctly inflated tires can also improve gas mileage up to three percent.
Because car engines work harder in colder weather, another tip is to be sure the right antifreeze/coolant mix is correct to keep the engine from freezing. Air filters should also be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles so that the engine doesn’t have to work harder to pull clean air into the cylinders, which can reduce fuel economy.
Valvoline also recommends that after a blast of cold weather, have the battery tested to make sure it has enough cranking power to withstand the next dip in degrees. With ice, snow, and salt around during the winter weather, it’s important to be sure that your windshield wipers are working properly, to ensure they do not need to be replaced.
Another tip is to make sure the reservoir didn’t crack during the last freeze and to consider adding wiper fluid that has been mixed with a de-icer for the next round of winter weather.
An emergency kit inside of your vehicle is a great idea in case of the event you get stranded in the cold. Your emergency kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, water, flares, blankets, a small shovel, a snowbrush and an ice scraper. Kitty litter or sand can be helpful in the event they can be spread under tires to get better traction on icy patches.
Dave Mann with State Farm Insurance said that from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. their agents will be happy to assist customers with filing claims due to damage on their homes and automobiles due to the winter storm.
“After 5 p.m., they can still call and get transferred to a real live person to tell them the steps they need to take,” Mann said.