What to Expect from Illinois Ice Dams: Understanding Your Home Insurance

Check out how to help prevent ice dams from ever occurring in the first place, and the coverage that can protect you if they do.

Long, big and dangerous icicles on a brick house roof. Beware of ice dams on your Illinois home.

Winters in Illinois can get really cold, to put it mildly, and harsh winters can cause serious damage to your home if you're not prepared. That's why it's important to know how to tackle ice dams before they form on your roof and cause extensive damage.

While an Illinois independent insurance agent can help you get protected with the right home insurance, we can start by tackling this topic further. Here's a breakdown of how to prepare your home against ice dams, what type of coverage can help you, and more.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams essentially act as a barrier of ice around standing water on your roof. They trap melting snow from properly draining from the roof, holding it in place to cause damage to your home. Water can find alternative ways to drain in these scenarios, such as by slipping in those tiny cracks around windows and doors.

How ice dams cause damage:

  1. By destroying your roof and gutters from the sheer weight of trapped water, snow, and ice
  2. By sending melting snow runoff into cracks in your roof, as well as through openings around windows, doors, etc. 
  3. By water seeping inside and causing floods
  4. By water seeping inside, freezing, and expanding
  5. By causing the growth of mold and mildew indoors, which can lead to respiratory problems
  6. By flooding the basement, ruining furniture, electronics, and other items stored there

The good news is that ice dams can be prevented or taken care of if you catch them early enough. 

What Causes Ice Dams?

When part of your roof gets warmer than other parts, it can cause uneven melting of snow and ice. Gutters tend to thaw more slowly than the main part of your roof, which can lead to ice in the gutters that traps melting snow on the roof. Areas of your roof that are in the shade can also melt more slowly than those in the sun.

How Can I Help Prevent Damage from Ice Dams?

Prevention is a great way to keep your home free of ice dams in the first place. That way you won't ever have to deal with trying to figure out if your insurance will cover a claim.

Take these steps to help prevent ice dam damage:

  • Have your roof professionally inspected for temperature leaks.
  • Remove melting snow from your roof to avoid puddles on the roof.
  • Seal any leaks in your home before winter hits.
  • Keep your gutters clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Have your home inspected for areas of bad insulation. 

Sometimes you can't actually prevent an ice dam from forming. If you end up with an ice dam, try creating channels inside it for water to drain from your roof. You can also hose your roof with warmer water than the melting snow and ice to help clear anything that's still frozen.

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Does Home Insurance Cover Ice Dam Damage?

It depends. Ice dams can be a tricky claim to get covered, said insurance expert Paul Martin. For ice dams and their related damage to be covered, they'd have to have occurred because of a listed event on your policy.

Home insurance often covers roof collapses, including those caused by the weight of ice and snow. However, home insurance typically excludes damage from water that seeps inside the home, such as from ice dams. Ask your Illinois independent insurance agent to review your home insurance policy with you to find out exactly when ice dams are covered.

When Aren't Ice Dams Covered by Home Insurance?

Losses due to freezing, thawing, and weight of water or ice typically are excluded by home insurance. You won't often find coverage for these types of structures that could freeze or experience their own version of ice dams:

  • Docks, piers, and wharves
  • Retaining walls
  • Fences, patios, external pools, and pavement
  • Foundations and other support structures

Be sure to review your specific home insurance policy's exclusions so you're not caught off guard in the case of an ice dam or other freezing event that's not covered. 

Does Home Insurance Pay Medical Bills if You Get Hurt while Fixing Ice Dams?

Your home insurance won't cover your injuries if you fall and hurt yourself while fixing ice dams or other issues at your home. However, if you had guests over and one of them got hurt while helping you fix your roof, your home insurance should cover the cost of their injuries through the medical payment section. You'd also be covered against liability costs if they decided to sue you for their injuries.

You'd have to go through your health insurance to cover your own injuries that occur at the home. If you're not already insured, your Illinois independent insurance agent can help you find a policy. You'll likely want to have coverage in place before winter rolls around, just in case you have to tend to potentially dangerous disasters like ice dams.

Why Choose an Illinois Independent Insurance Agent?

Illinois independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Illinois independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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