Q: What kind of snow damage will homeowners insurance cover? Is water damage from ice dams covered?
This winter has been terrible with snow, and we have a lot of snow on the roof and ice dams forming on our house. It’s more than we can keep up with! Now I’m noticing water leaks in the attic and I’m pretty sure our gutters are destroyed. Should we submit a homeowners claim? Is this even covered?
A: Chances are good that the damage you are referring to will be covered. Basically, when it comes to the structure of your home, your insurance will provide coverage for everything except whatever is specifically included on their list of exclusions. It is highly unlikely that snow damage will be one of the exclusions.
When there is a lot of snow on the roof, it can become very heavy, particularly if you are experiencing repeated snowfalls. The risk here is roof collapse, which can cause very serious structural damage, as well as property damage to the belongings inside your home. The structural damage will almost certainly be covered by your insurance policy. It is also likely that damage to personal belongings inside the home will also be covered, but you will need to check your specific policy to be sure.
As far as damage caused by ice dams is concerned, your home insurance will provide coverage as part of the standard homeowners coverage form, HO 00 03. Of course, homeowners are expected to take steps to keep snow and ice from accumulating on their roofs, but insurance companies understand that during long periods of ice, snow and frigid temperatures, there is not a lot that most people can do.
Keep in mind that there are certain situations in which your claim may be denied. In the event that your home is very poorly maintained and the damage caused by the snow would not have happened on a home that received reasonable maintenance, the insurance company may reserve the right to deny your claim. This typically happens only in extreme cases of neglect, but that is no reason to ignore problems in your home when they arise.