Insurance tips to survive the Minnesota winter

Minnesota Department of Commerce


Every winter, deep-freeze temperatures, snowstorms and ice cause plenty of headaches, and worse, for Minnesotans.

It’s important to make sure you have the insurance coverage you need in case your home, car or other property becomes a victim of winter weather. The Minnesota Commerce Department, which oversees the insurance industry in the state, offers these winter insurance tips.


Your home

Understand what your homeowners insurance covers: A standard policy typically covers damage caused by fire, wind, fallen trees, water damage from ice dams and other accidental causes, and structural collapse from the weight of ice or snow. Damage from frozen pipes may not be covered if it is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house. Damage from a backed-up drain or sewer is typically not covered.

Update your home inventory: Take photos or video of every room. Keep detailed information, including receipts, for all high-value possessions. Put your home inventory in a safe place. Filing a claim will go a lot easier if you have a comprehensive, up-to-date record of what’s in your home.

Review your coverage: If you have remodeled your home or bought any expensive new items, make sure your insurance policy is updated to reflect the added value. Most home insurance policies have standard limits for big-ticket items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment.


Your car

Drive with care: Winter weather is a challenge for all drivers. While some accidents can’t be avoided, you should always drive defensively and without distractions. When roads are slick or snow-covered, slow down and keep extra distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Know what to do in case of an accident: Always keep a copy of your insurance card in the car. To take the stress out of filing a claim, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) created the free WreckCheck smartphone app to help you gather information after an accident, including photos. You can then email the report directly to your insurance agent. It’s available at

Review whether you need collision or comprehensive coverage: Collision insurance covers damage to your car from colliding with another vehicle or non-moving object such as a tree or pothole. Comprehensive insurance covers damage caused by other factors such as flooding, hail, a falling tree or hitting an animal. If your car is older and no longer worth a lot, keep in mind that the maximum insurance payout will only be the car’s current market value.


Your winter fun

Decide on coverage for your snowmobile, ATV or ice fishing house: Minnesota law does not require insurance for snowmobiles or ATVs. Generally, they will not fall under your auto or homeowners insurance, so you will need a separate policy to cover damage to your vehicle and liability for damage to others. If you have an ice fishing house, check with your agent to see if your homeowners policy has it covered.

Carefully consider the costs versus benefits of travel insurance: If you plan to escape the cold for a warm vacation, you may be considering travel insurance. Review the details of what’s covered and what isn’t, especially any conditions or exclusions. Coverage that is too limited or restrictive may not be worth the price. Plus, your credit card may already include insurance.


—The Commerce Department is here if you have questions, or believe you have been the victim of a scam or fraud. Contact the Department’s Consumer Services Center at 651-539-1600. Complaints can also be sent by email to or by mail to Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 Seventh Place E., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN, 55101.

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