Nationwide urges customers to protect against winter storm damage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2011
Elizabeth Stelzer (614) 249-1025
Columbus, OH—Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company urges customers to take steps now to prevent potential damage from extreme winter weather conditions. With several weeks of winter weather ahead, there are still many opportunities for property and auto owners to take preventative action that could save money and avoid frustration.
“As the freezing and thawing of the winter season progresses, there are preventative steps customers can take to protect their investments,” said Ken Enscoe, Nationwide’s director of catastrophe claims operations. “Even in the middle of winter, there are some simple things you can do to lessen the chance of a claim.”
Policyholders who experience storm damage should call the Nationwide claims hotline at 1-800-421-3535 or contact their local agent. In the event of policyholder needs to file an insurance claim, representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist them. To help expedite the process, it is helpful to have a policy number or home address available when the call is placed. Also, make note of any injuries received and any witnesses or police authority contacted in relation to property damage.
Helpful Hints for Winter
• Pack an emergency kit. Communications and survival are your priorities. Pack your cell phone, flashlight, batteries and a radio to keep yourself updated on weather conditions. Toss in a heavy blanket or sleeping bag, extra clothing, bottled water and high-energy foods like peanut butter or chocolate bars. Make sure you have flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a jack, a tire pump and a good spare tire. Sand, cat litter or a mat can provide extra traction if you become stuck. You’ll also want maps of the area and a compass if you get lost. And always – always – include a first-aid kit.
• Call ahead. Let people know when you’re traveling, the route you intend to take and when you should arrive. If something happens, the faster the search begins, the better your chances.
• Check the weather. Know what you might encounter en route. And if the authorities caution against travel, heed their advice.
• Clean your headlights. Accumulated ice and snow can cut their effectiveness. And remember to turn them on in bad conditions, even during the daytime. If you need your wipers, you definitely need your lights.
• Check tire inflation. Your ability to control your vehicle depends on your contact with the ground, and tire pressure plays a big role in that. Not enough pressure is as bad as too much pressure. Check your owner’s manual or refer to the sticker on the back of your driver’s door.
• Check belts and hoses. Chilly rubber is less flexible and more likely to fail. And that can translate to a long wait without a running engine – and without a heater.
• Inspect wipers and top off wiper fluid. No matter what the weather, you can’t avoid what you can’t see. But in whiteout conditions and on slick roadways, the increased visibility will give you the time you need to react more deliberately to anything that develops ahead of you.
• Keep your tank at least half full. This is a general rule to prevent fuel-line freeze-up. But it’s not bad idea to top off your tank just in case you take a detour – or end up off the road and need to run your engine periodically to keep warm.
• Check your exhaust for blockages. Snow and ice can block your tailpipe. Not only can that stall your engine, but it can also cause deadly carbon monoxide to build up inside your vehicle.
• Check your oil and battery. The battery almost goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway. And your car always needs a good supply of fresh oil. If you haven’t changed it in awhile, change it before you head into the snow. Use the lightest grade of oil your owner’s manual specifies for winter: Cold, thick oil makes it harder to start your engine before you leave your home or prepare for your return.
Frozen water in pipes can cause pressure buildup leading to pipes bursting. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing, where holes in your house's outside wall for television, cable or telephone lines allow cold air to reach them. To keep water in pipes from freezing, take the following steps:
• Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes (particularly in the kitchen and bathroom).
• Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space. Or drain the water system, especially if your house will be unattended during cold periods.
• Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer. The more insulation the better.
• Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters or soffit. When interior heat melts the snow on the roof, water can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Take these steps now to avoid trouble later:
• Keep your attic well ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
• Keep the attic floor well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
• As an extra precaution against roof leaks in case ice dams do form, install a water-repellent membrane under your roof covering.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide frame mark, and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.