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Don’t get frozen out by your insurance this winter

11/18/2016 8:57:06 AM

Review your policies before you brave the cold

SAINT PAUL – As winter snow and cold arrive, it is a good time to make sure you are prepared not only with boots, coats and gloves, but also with the proper insurance coverage to address potential hazards and risks of winter activities.

“Seasonal activities like plowing snow, snowmobiling, ice fishing or simply traveling to somewhere warm can all have implications for insurance coverage,” says Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose agency regulates the insurance industry. “I urge Minnesotans to review their insurance policies to make sure they know what is covered and what isn’t.”

Winter activities 

If you are ready to jump on a lift to take your board or skis down your favorite slope or get your ice skates laced up for the rink, check your homeowners or renters policy, as well as your health insurance, so you know what to do in case of an accident or a loss.

Generally, equipment you own will be covered, up to a specific amount by your homeowners or renters policy. Check the limit in your policy and decide if it will be enough to replace damaged or stolen equipment.

If you are out of town without access to your usual doctor or hospital, review the emergency medical treatment requirements of your health insurance policy.

Are you required to seek treatment at a certain hospital or urgent care center in your insurer’s network? How much will your copay be? To fill a prescription, do you have to go to a certain pharmacy?

Make a list of these details and carry your insurance card with you when you travel.

Snow removal at home

Generally, your homeowners or renters policy will cover liability for injuries if someone other than a family member slips and falls on your property. But your coverage is based on an expectation that you perform due diligence to keep your property safe for visitors. 

Snow plowing

If you plan to remove snow from your driveway with your own plow attached to your vehicle, your personal auto policy should cover your liability and any property damage you might cause. 

If you use your plow to make a little extra cash, your personal auto insurance policy will probably not provide coverage. Ask your agent if an endorsement can be added to your existing policy or if a commercial auto policy that includes coverage for plowing makes sense.

Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles are not covered under typical auto, homeowners or renters policies. If you want property or personal liability protection for your snowmobile, talk with your insurance agent about a separate snowmobile insurance policy. When driving your snowmobile, carry your proof of insurance.

Ice fishing

Be careful and follow advisories about when it is safe to drive on ice-covered lakes.

If your vehicle falls through the ice, your auto insurance will cover the loss only if you have a comprehensive policy, which may also cover the cost of removing the submerged vehicle from the water. Check with your insurance agent to confirm your coverage.

There are several options for your ice fishing house, depending on its features. Homeowners insurance may cover a simple fish house as personal property, but make sure it is itemized on the policy. In transit on a trailer, any damage should be covered by your auto insurance.

For a fish house on wheels, insurance coverage as a towable camper/travel trailer may be more suitable. Consult with an insurance agent about the most appropriate coverage.

Travel insurance

Traveling in the winter months can be full of surprises. Even if you’re traveling somewhere warm, bad weather can cause delays. To help with the cost of rebooking a flight or an unexpected overnight stay, travel sites and airlines offer travel insurance that may cover unexpected delays or cancellations.

Before buying travel insurance, review the policies you have now. If you have life, health or homeowners insurance, you may not need to buy certain types of travel insurance. Also check what travel coverage you may have if you pay with your credit card.

Many cruise and tour operators offer cancellation waivers, which typically have many restrictions. Carefully review the details before buying one.

Commerce is here to help

Contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

Media Contact:
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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