April 02, 2020

Insurance coverage varies by policy for losses from ice storm

LEWISTON — Now that life is getting back to normal for most Mainers whose electric power has been restored, many are wondering whether their insurance covers ice storm damages.

It depends on the policy, agents say.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook. Everyone seems to have had damage of some kind,” said Stuart Goodwin, an owner of Goodwin’s Insurance in Norway. “No one has escaped.”

To keep up with the wave of fresh claims, many companies are working extra hours, staying open weekends and answering the phones all day and night. Extra adjusters are being brought to Maine and retirees and part-timers are being put to work.

For damage to vehicles, owners need more than basic liability coverage that’s required in Maine. In cases in which a limb has fallen on a car parked in the driveway, comprehensive homeowners’ coverage may take care of the damages, said Goodwin.

One insurance company ran a special drive-in car appraisal service at a body shop in Bangor.

Homeowners and small-market owners need special food-spoilage riders on their policies in order to be covered for losses of food that was left unrefrigerated.

Some Mainers may be worrying needlessly if they think they won’t get coverage because the ice storm was an “act of God.”

“There’s nothing in policies I have seen that says anything about an `act of God,”‘ said insurance agent Bruce Chalmers of Bridgton.

Claims for damage from wind and rainstorms and other natural events are routinely honored, he said.

Comprehensive policies will cover structural damage to homes and buildings caused by the ice, but homeowners should not expect it to cover damage to the trees or cleanup costs, said Goodwin.

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