What Kind of Winter Weather Damage Does Your Homeowner’s Insurance Cover (and NOT Cover)?
Now that Winter is here and we’ve had our first major snowstorm of the season, it’s time to discuss what Homeowner’s Insurance does and does not cover.
Most insurers offer more than one level of coverage. Policies that are considered “standard” or “fire-only” will not cover as many types of damage as an “all-risk” policy, so most of what is described below refers to coverages of an “all-risk” policy.
When melting snow has nowhere to go because your gutters are full of ice and snow it results in interior water damage to your home. This is almost always covered.
Like Ice Dams, snow and ice removal usually may not not covered but the damage it causes usually is. Accumulation of snow and ice can sometimes cause roofs to collapse or rafters to break. This damage is covered along with what it takes to get your house back together again. Damage to your home and garage caused by snow and cold is covered, damage to your yard and driveway probably not.
Not all companies pay to have frozen pipes thawed by professionals, but most policies do cover pipe replacement and water damage that results. The coverage may not apply if you failed to maintain heat in the property or never winterizing the home. How a frozen pipe claim is reported to the Insurance Company determines whether your insurance company will pay the claim. Leave notifying your Insurance Company up to a professional Adjuster. This is important to know if you are a “snowbird” or own a summer vacation home.
Interruption of Services
If you lose power during a storm, your all-risk homeowner’s may not be much help. Here is the rule of thumb if the power interruption results from something that happen at your address like a tree branch fallen and taking out the main electric line to your home, then everything after that is covered. If power is out to your whole neighborhood, then your insurance is not going to be much help. There may be limited coverage if your home is damaged from the same storm that you lost power in. Policies usually pay for spoiled food, repairs to damage, and appliances damaged caused power surges that sometimes occur when power is restored. If you lose heat from a power outage that results in freezing damages, your policy should provide coverage.
Some homes suffer interior damage from freezing and thawing of the condensation caused by lack of insulation and poor venting in the attic. Policies don’t normally cover damage caused by condensation so make sure your attic is adequately vented and insulated.
The landlord’s insurance will pay for winter weather damage to the building, including the walls, ceilings, and plumbing in your apartment. It will not pay for damage to your tenant’s personal belongings. For the tenant’s possessions to be covered, the tenant must purchase their own renter’s insurance.
Commercial property insurance varies dramatically from policy to policy. Almost all Commercial Policies cover damage from melting snow, however, most don’t cover common roof leaks. Have Property Adjustment or your agent review your coverage before damage occurs.
The roofs of farm and storage buildings sometimes collapse under the weight of snow. If the building is very old, it may better to store expensive equipment in insured, rather than uninsured, buildings. Livestock is covered if a farmer has a livestock endorsement to a farm policy.
Flooding can occur at any time of year. Flooding sometimes occurs when a January thaw or early Spring snow melt and heavy rain occur simultaneously. Because flood insurance goes into effect 30 days after it is purchased, so it is wise to consider buying coverage before it is needed.
Many people mistakenly believe that they must live in a designated flood plain to be eligible to buy flood insurance. The only requirement for eligibility to buy flood insurance is that the municipality in which they live must participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. To find out which communities participate, call the National Flood Insurance Program at 888-CALL-FLOOD. Also, any insurance agent can provide information about the cost and availability of flood insurance.
These are just a few of the scenarios that you may face this Winter. If you are not sure what type of policy you have and what it covers, call Property Adjustment or your agent for an explanation. It is important for you to understand what is covered before your house suffers damage to avoid surprises and headaches in the event you do file a claim.