Ice Dams: Insurance Coverage and Top Prevention Tips in South Dakota

How to keep your roof and gutters clear to prevent ice dams on your home, as well as how insurance can help if they do form.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.


Winters in South Dakota can dump an average of 30 to 70 or more inches of snow over residential homes and everything else. When this snow starts to melt, it can turn into ice dams at the corners of the roof and all along the gutter line. While you can't prevent the snow from falling, fortunately, you can often prevent the formation of ice dams.

A South Dakota independent insurance agent can also help you get equipped with the right homeowners insurance protection in case ice dams do develop on your home. They'll make sure you get covered before winter rolls around. But to begin with, here's a breakdown of ice dam prevention and protection for your home in South Dakota.

How Do Ice Dams Damage Homes?

Snow and ice often don't melt evenly, especially if some parts of your roof get warm faster than others from the sun or other causes. Since your gutters often remain colder than your roof for a longer period of time, an ice dam can form, where still-frozen precipitation traps the melt water trying to run off of your roof. 

Ice dams can damage your home in several ways:

  • By sending water inside the home through openings around windows and doors
  • By causing freezing damage outside and inside the home
  • By causing floods in the basement
  • By ruining indoor furniture and other items
  • By damaging the roof and gutters due to the weight of trapped precipitation
  • By leading to the growth of mold or mildew inside the home

Ice dams may not sound like a serious problem, but examining all the ways in which they can cause extensive damage to your property both inside and out can be eye-opening. 

How to Protect Your South Dakota Home from Ice Dams

Protecting your South Dakota home from ice dams begins with the right prevention, which can be achieved with a few simple action steps on your part. 

Prevent ice dam damage to your home:

  1. By getting your roof inspected regularly by a professional for leaks and other issues
  2. By sealing any leaks around your property well in advance
  3. By clearing your gutters often from all types of buildup and debris
  4. By getting your home's interior inspected for inconsistent insulation
  5. By removing any melted snow and ice from your roof ASAP to prevent puddles and pooling
  6. By getting equipped with enough homeowners insurance starting in the warmer months

Protecting your South Dakota home from ice dams ends with finding the right insurance coverage. More on this next.

How Does Home Insurance Help after Ice Dam Damage?

According to insurance experts, it's not always easy to get an ice dam claim covered. Insurance expert Jeffery Green says that while home insurance can cover ice dam damage to your home, it can't cover damage to your personal property caused by runoff around the ice dam. If an ice dam led to water runoff inside your home which then ruined clothing or other property, that part of the incident wouldn't be covered by homeowners insurance.

Extreme cases of ice dams can lead to so much trapped weight that the roof actually collapses under stress. Homeowners insurance does cover incidents of roof collapse and provides additional living expense coverage as well if you must live in a hotel or other location while awaiting repairs. Ask your South Dakota independent insurance agent to review your home insurance policy with you to find out exactly when ice dams are covered.


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When Is Ice Dam Damage Not Covered in South Dakota?

Green says that if your home gets damaged as a result of freezing pipes, sprinklers, plumbing systems, or household appliances, home insurance wouldn't cover these incidents. However, these disasters could be covered by home insurance if the homeowner properly maintained heat or drained the systems first.  

Ice dam damage that leads to mold or mildew in the home or a refreezing of water that enters the home also wouldn't be covered by home insurance. Home insurance won't cover ice dam damage to additional structures, either. Contact your South Dakota independent insurance agent to review your home insurance policy, noting the exclusions in ice dam and freezing incidents so you'll know for sure what's covered and what's not.

How Can I Remove Ice Dams from My Home?

If you end up with an ice dam on your home, don't panic, there are still methods to remove it before it causes major damage. Follow the action steps below to remove ice dams from your home in South Dakota.

To temporarily remove ice dams:

    • Warm water: Using warm water on areas of still-frozen snow and ice on your roof's edge or in your gutters can help these blockages to thaw and run off properly.
    • Install a heat cable: Having a professional install heated cables on your roof can help snow and ice thaw quickly and evenly and allow the water to flow normally, preventing ice dams.
    • Remove the snow: If there's no snow trapped on your roof, it can't get stuck and lead to an ice dam situation. Take measures to remove snow from your roof before it sits for too long.

Practical, DIY steps for temporary ice dam removal:

    1. Grab a ladder and follow proper safety measures when climbing to the spot where the ice dam blockage is.
    2. Bring your garden hose with you, allowing the warm water to flow over the ice dam area.
    3. Use a top-to-bottom spraying motion to avoid damaging shingles or the roof below them, continue until you've cleared all the trapped ice from the roof, gutters, etc.

To permanently remove ice dams:

    • Inspect ventilation: Make sure your home's ventilation is efficient to prevent hot and cold spots in your attic and on the roof.
    • Consider connection points: Points where angles of your roof connect can lead to the formation of ice dams, so talk with a professional about potentially changing your roof's pitch, shape, or layout if necessary.
    • Keep up with gutter maintenance: Maintain your gutters throughout the year, keeping them clear of leaves and other objects that could cause blockages and aid in ice dam formation.

Ice dam removal doesn't have to be difficult if you have a checklist of action steps on hand first. Keep these tips in mind if the time ever comes to remove one from your home, and you can always call in professionals to help with the process, as well.

What Happens if I Get Injured Removing Ice Dams?

Your home insurance wouldn't cover your personal injuries stemming from ice dam removal or any other type of home maintenance. You'd have to rely on your health insurance policy to cover the treatment of your injuries. However, if a neighbor or other guest on your property gets injured while helping you remove ice dams, your home insurance's liability coverage would help pay for the cost of their medical treatment. 

If you hired a professional contractor to remove ice dams from your home and they got injured, their own insurance policy should cover their treatment. However, it's critical to ensure that the contractor is actually insured before you allow them to begin working to avoid an unnecessary hassle if an incident occurs. That's just one more reason to always ask for proof of insurance from any contractor you hire to perform work on your home before they begin their work.

Why Choose a South Dakota Independent Insurance Agent?

South Dakota 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.

South Dakota 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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