Winter Driving Warnings & Tips to Stay Safe

It does not take snowmageddon to produce significant property damage during the winter months, which is why the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging property owners to take a winter storm preparation reality check.

Even during one of the warmest winters on record, severe weather events last winter caused more than $1 billion in insured losses. Old Man Winter was full of surprises bringing tornado outbreaks in the southeast, thundersnow in New England and good old-fashioned, record-setting Nor’Easters across the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.

To help motorists and homeowners protect their property during the harsh winter months, PCI is launching its Winter Storm Preparedness Reality Check campaign and quiz. PCI encourages consumers to follow a few simple tips and take steps to ensure they are ready for the next Arctic blast and winter storm system.

With more than 70 percent of nation’s roads being in regions that average more than five inches of snow a year, hazardous driving conditions could impact most Americans. This comes as the U.S. is experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of auto accidents and fatalities. Traffic deaths rose 14 percent from 2014 to 2016. The last time the United States had similar back-to-back fatality increases of this magnitude was more than 50 years ago, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Roads are particularly hazardous in the winter months and the dangers can be compounded by distracted and impaired driving,” said Robert Passmore, assistant vice president personal lines, policy for PCI. “It pays to take precautions so that you are ready for the inevitable snow, ice and cold and essential that you avoid distracted or impaired driving this winter.”

Winter storms can cause significant damage not only for drivers but also for homeowners. Extreme weather, burst pipes, tree limbs falling, roof or deck collapses can add up to record numbers of insurance claims. However, insurers are ready to work with consumers to minimize the inconveniences and help make the claims process go as smoothly as possible if consumers face damage.

At least once a year talk with your insurance agent or company to review your policy. And, whenever severe weather occurs, insurers are prepared to work with consumers to minimize the inconveniences and help make the claims process go as smoothly as possible.

PCI encourages consumers to take a winter storm preparation reality check by following these tips for winter storms:

Winter Driving Tips

Hazardous road conditions make it even more important to take safety precautions and drive defensively. Slow down and keep extra distance between your car and other vehicles.

Winterize your car by checking your antifreeze, battery, tires and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure your headlights, taillights and emergency flashers are working.

Prepare an emergency travel kit with items such as blankets, jumper cables, a shovel, a flashlight, salt, flares and other emergency supplies. A toolkit, bottled water and snack food are also useful items to include.

Keep at least half of a tank of gas in your car at all times.

Cold Weather Homeowners Tips

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. It is important to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, and portable heater).

Frozen water pipes represent the biggest potential problem for most homes. A little advance planning will usually prevent frozen pipes.

Insulate pipes, especially those leading to the outside, and plug holes around the pipes with insulation or spray-in foam. Make sure there is warm air flowing around pipes that are located near an outside wall. Check pipes under sinks to make sure they will get adequate heat.

Make sure there is clear access to the main water shut-off valve in case there is a leak or a pipe suddenly bursts.

PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write $216 billion in annual premium, 36 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 43 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 29 percent of the homeowners market, 34 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 36 percent of the private workers compensation market.