Monday, November 16, 2009

Wind storm coming to parts of Western WA

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for half a dozen areas of the state:
  • San Juan County
  • Western Whatcom County
  • Western Skagit County
  • Admiralty Inlet Area
  • North Coast
  • Central Coast
The agency says that "a strong Pacific frontal system just offshore will produce damaging winds along the coast and in the north interior this morning...More widespread high winds are possible Monday night and Tuesday...Local damaging wind gusts to around 60 mph can be expected as a strong weather system moves through the region."

During this time of year, our office tends to field a lot of queries from people who've had wind- or storm-related damage. (We're the state agency that regulates insurance in Washington.) Here are a couple of common ones:

Am I covered if my car was damaged by falling limbs? If your car was damaged, that damage should be covered under the comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy. (If you opted for comprehensive coverage, that is. Some people, to save money, just get liability coverage.)

My yard is covered with branches from the storm. None of them hit the house or my fence, so there's no property damage. But would the cleanup costs be covered in this case? Sorry, probably not. Standard homeowner's policies typically only pay for such cleanup if your property was actually damaged. In other words, your home, garage, fence, etc. would probably have to first be damaged by the debris for the insurer to pay to remove it. Standard policies don't cover the loss of trees or shrubs because of wind.

My business has an awning over the sidewalk, and it's been damaged by the wind. Is it covered? Probably, but check with your agent or insurer to be sure, since business insurance can vary a lot. Also, many business policies have business interruption coverage, which can be very useful if a covered loss forces you to close the business. But there are often deductibles or other limits, so they may not apply if the business interruption is for just a few days.

Click here for a lot more storm-related Q&As re: insurance.

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