Am I covered if I get into an accident after the state declares an emergency due to heavy snow fall?

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By Yolanda Spivey

Recently, a client of mine emailed me the following question: Am I covered if I get into an accident after the state declares an emergency due to heavy snow fall?

The answer to her question is it depends!

For instance, New York State recently was hit with snow falls so heavy, over 85 inches of snow was dumped in that area.  In addition, 13 people died attempting to shovel snow or push their vehicles to more secure areas. The storm has also caused businesses to close and some hospitals and nursing homes to be evacuated.

Conditions in that region were so dire, Governor Andrew Cuomo had shut down certain sections of the New York State thruway and declared a state of emergency for several counties in and around the Buffalo, NY area.  The National Guard was even deployed to the affected communities to help residents dig out from snow that covered their doorways. It was reported that snow levels were as high as six feet in certain areas.

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So, if you venture off out there in snowy conditions because you have an emergency yourself, and you get into an accident, YES, you will be covered.  The State of New York requires that insurance companies cover you unless they give you a legal notice in writing prohibiting you from traveling in bad weather with your vehicle. But be careful, the insurance company has a right to not renew your policy in the future should you get into an accident while traveling in inclement conditions.

Further, you may be subjected to tickets if you get into an accident and your insurance rates will increase.

This is something to keep in mind just in case you are caught in a storm and think you may need something from the store.  If it’s not life threatening, then it is wise to stay at home and wait for the storm to pass.

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