Ice Dams in Illinois: Insurance Coverage and Top Prevention Tips

Ice dams can be both a personal and insurance nightmare, but you don't necessarily have to deal with them if you're prepared.
Icicles hang from the eaves on a cold winter morning. Ice Dams in Illinois: Insurance Coverage and Top Prevention Tips.

The snowiest winter on record in Illinois brought a whopping 44.5 inches of snowfall. When the snow melts, it doesn't always happen evenly or cleanly. A blockage of melting snow can lead to an issue called an ice dam.

Luckily, a homeowners insurance policy can help you prepare for ice dams, and an Illinois independent insurance agent can help you find the coverage you need. They'll get you covered before winter rolls around. But first, here's a breakdown of Illinois ice dams and some top prevention tips against them.

Facts about Illinois Ice Dams

Ice dams occur because some areas of snow and ice can melt faster than others. Snow in your gutters, for example, tends to stay frozen longer than the snow on your roof, which can cause major problems when the mess starts to thaw. Without the proper runoff route, all that new water can find a way inside of your home — or lead to a collapsed roof.

Some ice dam facts for Illinois:

  • Ice dams typically have the highest risk of forming after at least six inches of snowfall, but just one inch of snow can be enough for their formation.
  • If your home's thermostat stays set to 68 degrees or higher, it can aid in the prevention of ice dam damage.
  • Your roof's pitch can also help prevent ice dams, especially if it's 12:12 or higher.
  • Water can drain into your home when an ice dam is just four to six inches in length, leading to potential property damage, mold, and other problems. 
  • If an ice dam traps even one gallon of water, the accumulation can be substantial enough to get inside the home. 
  • It can take just 24 hours or less for an ice dam to form.
  • It costs about $400 to $600 per hour to have a professional remove an ice dam from your home.

When it comes to ice dams, your best bet at avoiding complications is to just prevent the disaster from occurring in the first place. 

How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Illinois Home

The prevention of ice dams can be achieved if you follow a few necessary steps before winter hits.

Here's how to prevent ice dams on your home:

  1. Always clear your roof ASAP if snow or ice has accumulated.
  2. Inspect the area around your home's doors and windows for potential leaks ahead of time.
  3. Stay on top of your gutters' maintenance by always clearing debris right away.
  4. Have your home inspected by a professional for signs of any temperature leaks.
  5. Have your home's insulation professionally inspected before winter comes.
  6. Ask an Illinois independent insurance agent about getting homeowners insurance.

Having the right type of homeowners insurance can help you deal with the potential fallout from ice dams. Though an insurance policy itself isn't enough to actually prevent ice dams or their damage, it can help you recover financially from the disasters if they do happen.

How Does Home Insurance Cover Ice Dam Damage?

Standard home insurance does cover ice dam damage to your home, said insurance expert Jeffery Green. But, he added, damage to your personal property caused by runoff around the ice dam wouldn't be covered. So if water from the melted snow seeped indoors and ruined your sofa, you would have to pay for that on your own.

If your roof collapses under the weight of trapped snow or ice due to an ice dam, your home insurance should cover the collapse. Home insurance can also cover loss of use, in case your roof collapses and you have to stay somewhere else while your property is being repaired. Loss of use coverage can reimburse you for takeout meals, hotel fees, and more.

When Isn't Ice Dam Damage Covered?

According to Green, damage resulting from freezing pipes, sprinklers, plumbing systems, or household appliances wouldn't be covered by home insurance, unless the homeowner properly maintained heat or drained the systems. Water entering your home due to an ice dam that then refroze or caused mold wouldn't be covered by home insurance either. Damage to additional structures by ice dams would also not be covered.


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How Can an Ice Dam Cause Damage to Your Home?

Ice dams can lead to all kinds of complications, many of which involve water and other damage to the inside of your home, even though the original problem formed outdoors.

This is how an ice dam can damage your Illinois home:

  1. By damaging or destroying your gutters due to the weight of trapped accumulation
  2. By damaging indoor elements after water seepage, followed by refreezing
  3. By leading to the formation of mildew or mold indoors after water seepage was left unattended for too long
  4. By damaging or destroying personal property like electronics
  5. By internally damaging your home after water seeps inside through openings around the doors or windows
  6. By flooding your basement after a large incidence of water runoff that makes its way indoors

These complications from ice dams don't have to happen to your home. Take the action steps described above to either prevent ice dams entirely or remove them in a timely manner. Regardless, make sure to call your Illinois independent insurance agent to review your ice dam coverage under your homeowners insurance policy before winter rolls around.

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'll 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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