Bitter cold temps can cause expensive damage


COLUMBUS — This week’s forecast frigid temperatures have the potential to cause costly damage to vehicles and homes. AAA is bracing for an increase in roadside assistance calls and insurance claims, and is warning Ohioans to prepare for this week’s winter blast.

Cold-Weather Breakdowns

When temperatures dipped into the single digits last week, the number of motorists calling AAA Ohio for roadside assistance more than tripled, due to dead batteries, frozen locks and cars sliding off of slick roads. The auto club expects more of the same when temperatures plummet this week.

“If your battery is three or more years old, it is more susceptible to failure during the upcoming weather event,” said Brian Rex, director, Emergency Services Network for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “There’s no way to prevent your car battery from failing, but you can have it checked at before the cold hits to make sure it’s still in good condition. If it’s not, have it replaced immediately.”

Motorists can also keep a can of lock deicer handy, somewhere outside of their vehicle, in case their locks freeze.

Keep in mind, if you do need roadside assistance during this week’s cold snap, it may take help longer to get to you. That’s why it’s important to pack an emergency roadside kit that includes: Jumper cables, blankets and extra clothes to stay warm, flashlight and extra batteries, an ice scraper, safety reflectors, a shovel, a first aid kit, a simple tool kit, water and non-perishable food, and a mobile phone to call for help.

Winter Injuries

Crashes are also common during winter weather. More than 39,000 Ohio drivers crashed on wet or slick roads last winter, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. Auto insurance can help cover the cost of these incidents, but not all policies are the same:

Liability coverage will only pay for damage or injury expenses to other people caused by the policyholder.

Collision coverage will help the policyholder with the cost of any vehicle damage caused by a collision, even if that policyholder is at fault.

Comprehensive coverage will protect the policyholder’s vehicle against theft or damage caused by something other than a collision, such as an icy limb falling on a vehicle.

If someone slips and falls, or is injured by a falling icicle on a policyholder’s property, homeowner’s insurance will help cover the medical costs. These policies come with standard medical guest coverage, but policyholders can increase this coverage for additional premium.

Bursting Pipes

Bitter cold temperatures can also cause pipes to freeze and burst. Pipes on exterior walls are especially susceptible. AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency urges Ohioans to take the following precautions to protect their pipes.

  • Open cabinets to let the heat from the home circulate around the pipes
  • Let the water drip from the faucet
  • Keep thermostat at 55 degrees or higher
  • Seal gaps around pipes that allow the cold air inside
  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic

“Prevention is the key to protecting your home this winter. A few simple steps can help you avoid a frozen pipes nightmare,” said Ed Conley, director, Insurance Sales & Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “For added peace of mind, it’s a good idea to make sure you have adequate homeowners insurance.”

If a pipe bursts in your home, homeowner’s insurance will usually cover the resulting damage. However, the repairs to the pipe may not be covered, due to normal wear and tear. AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency encourages those who are unsure what their insurance policy covers to speak with their agent.

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Take precautions to protect your homes, vehicles

 

By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer

 

 

Kimberly Schwind is a senior public relations manager at AAA Ohio Auto Club