By: Todd Halterman
It’s been an odd winter, and it’s nearly done as ice melt begins to slowly drip down and create a variety of problems. The warmer temperatures mean some very large icicles can break at any moment. When that happens, you might be struck by falling ice and your vehicles could be damaged. In years past, New York city and Chicago were forced to close streets in anticipation of the danger to pedestrians from falling ice. As it relates to insurance, do you know who’s liable for falling ice and how it might affect your insurance?
If your car or truck is damaged by falling ice or debris, you’ll generally be compensated as long as you carry comprehensive insurance.
Say your vehicle is parked at a business while you shop. If the business failed to take preventive measures or post notifications of falling ice, the property owner might be responsible for damages.
And the damage isn’t limited to falling ice, it can also happen as vehicles and people fall through the ice.
“This is just not the year to go crossing a lake. No matter how good and inviting it looks, it’s likely there’s going to be a lot of thin ice underneath that snow,” says Dominic Jacangelo.
Jacangelo, the Executive Director of the New York State Snowmobile Association, adds that the problem is largely due to thin ice resulting from a statistically mild winter. In areas of upper New York State, the average temperature during this January was 29 degrees. That’s 11 degrees above the normal winter temps, and on 23 days in January the temp actually rose above freezing.
So far in February, the average temperature has been 25 degrees, and that’s almost six degrees above normal.
The warm temps mean you should be particularly aware of your surroundings as ice melts on lakes, rivers and rooftops. You should also let your neighbors and building managers know if you spot any potentially dangerous situations. In the past, residents in some neighborhoods have gone so far as to form groups to help reduce the threat of injuries.
Meanwhile, as claim incidents pour in this season, you’re probably wondering if insurance premiums will be affected should you file a claim. While there is a potential for increased rates – if you have a significant number of claims – you should be aware that premiums are based on the total number of claims.
It’s always a good idea to contact your agent and provide as much information as you can if you happen to be hurt by falling ice or suffer any damage to property due to poor weather conditions.
Keep in mind that if you can demonstrate that the damage was caused by a neighbor or on properties where there were no warning signs or notifications of perilous conditions, their insurance may pay. It’s always crucial to provide and detail as much information as possible on the location, weather conditions and a description of how the accident occurred. If you can, take pictures and send them with your report and claim.