A blizzard by any other name...

By , Posted on 08 February 2013

What's in a name? When it comes to winter storms, The Weather Channel says more awareness -- and hashtags. The 24/7 weather watcher will start naming severe storms this winter to raise awareness of epic storm systems and to help you get better prepared, in part by also making it easier for you to track them on social media.

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"In addition to providing information about significant winter storms by referring to them by name, the name itself will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier.  As an example, hash tagging a storm based on its name will provide a one-stop shop to exchange all of the latest information on the impending high-impact weather system," writes The Weather Channel's Tom Niziol.

It also means winter storms will no longer be left out in the cold when it comes to monikers. Hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones have typically been the only storms officially named. The titular titans in this realm are the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center and the World Meteorological Organization. (For meteorologist geeks, some trivia: In 1953, the U.S. began using female names for superstorms, and added male names in 1979.)

Given the potential damage that any natural disaster can cause, I think it makes sense to attach a name to winter storms if it means people will be better prepared. Part of that process is being aware of the role homeowners insurance plays when climate-based calamities ensue.

Standard homeowners insurance typically covers most property damage claims from winter storms, with the exception of flooding from rivers, streams or nearby bodies of water. Here are some guidelines on what a standard homeowner insurance policy generally covers when winter weather gets nasty enough to earn a name:

  • damage from water seeping into your house through ceilings and walls due to ice dams and poor drainage
  • roof collapse due to heavy snow and ice
  • damage caused by snow or freezing rain that gets into the home because of wind damage
  • burst pipes caused by freezing temperatures due to power failure
  • damage to your insured property from fallen trees

(Also, see: "5 ways Mother Nature undermines your home insurance" explains how wind damage, flood damage, frozen pipes, landslides and mudslides and earthquakes are covered -- or not.)

Do you think naming winter storms is a good idea? Let us know!

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Des Toups

Des Toups

Managing editor

Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.

Email: dtoups@quinstreet.com

Follow him on Twitter @destoups

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