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Claims from winter storm Draco rolling in

Madison, Wis. (Dec. 21, 2012) – American Family Insurance isn't taking a snow day after winter storm Draco. Instead, they are fielding calls and working with customers to schedule needed emergency repairs that resulted from the storm that hit Wisconsin Wednesday evening.

American Family has received about 125 claims, mostly from broken tree limbs that crashed onto roofs, outbuildings, awnings or decks. The company has also received auto claims from tree limbs falling onto cars parked in driveways.

American Family customers who have claims should immediately contact the company's 24-hour Customer Care Center - 1-800-MY-AMFAM (692-6326) - to schedule an inspection or their damaged property.

And while customers are digging out their sidewalks and driveways, American Family is advising them to also look up at what else might need to be cleared - rooftops.

Ice dams can occur after periods of heavy snowfall, followed by temperatures that hover near freezing. They form when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes near the edge. As more snow melts and runs down the roof, water builds up behind the ice dam and seeps into the home, damaging drywall, carpeting and cabinets; and sometimes even collapsing ceilings.

Fortunately, there are some easy and effective measures homeowners can take to prevent ice dams from forming:

  • The key to prevention is to keep the building's attic temperature as close to the outside temperature as possible. This means insulating the attic floor and installing adequate ventilation. Peak or roof-mounted vents allow warm air to exit the attic; soffit vents allow cold air to enter the attic. Both types of vents are advised.
  • Proper venting and insulation may not prevent ice dams when homes are blanketed by heavy snow. Sometimes, the only option is to remove snow from the roof. It's only necessary to clear the bottom six feet to allow the water to reach the gutters and drain to the ground.
  • If snow must be removed, you may want to contact a qualified professional to avoid the risk of injury. While it's not an expense covered by insurance, letting a professional do the work is the safest route.
  • A "roof rake" or "snow puller" can be used to remove snow from a roof while the person is standing on the ground. These tools are often available at local hardware stores.
  • Inspect gutters from the ground to see that they have not pulled away from the structure, and that the gutters slope towards the downspouts. Clean gutters and downspouts to allow unobstructed flow of running water to the ground.
  • For new construction in areas with heavy snowfall, it's highly recommended that an ice and water shield be installed along the lower three feet of the roof and valleys. This rubber covering is placed under the shingles and seals around nails to prevent dammed up water from seeping through the roof.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam.