As fall turns to winter, homeowners around the country are remembering last year’s epic winter blizzards and shuddering at the thought of further damage to their homes this year.
They are perhaps wise to worry since damage from blizzards and snowstorms accounts for more than a billion dollars of damage to homes annually. It’s important to know what protection your homeowner’s insurance provides when it comes to winter storm damage.
Here are a few key points to consider.
Pay Special Attention To Your Roof
The majority of storm and blizzard-related damage to homes impact roofs. Ice dams and clogged gutters during a blizzard can lead to serious water damage of both your roof and your home itself. If snow is allowed to pile up on your roof and becomes too heavy, it can even cause your roof to cave in.
Luckily, in most cases, roof damage caused by a blizzard is covered under your insurance policy. One possible exception is if your roof has not been properly maintained or was already damaged due to something like shoddy contractor work, in which case your claim may be denied.
In addition to checking with your insurance representative to make sure your specific policy covers your roof from blizzard damage, it’s a good idea to take preventative care of your roof each fall and winter. Clean your gutters, remove excess snow with a roof rake, and make needed repairs in a timely manner. This will both help minimize damage caused by blizzards, and help ensure your claim will be approved if your roof does incur snow damage.
Don’t Neglect Your Pipes
Another common and costly cause of damage during blizzards is water damage from burst pipes. If you don’t take adequate precautions to prevent your pipes from bursting, your insurance company may not be able to reimburse you for water damage.
This is easy to prevent, however, by taking a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from bursting in the first place. When going out of town on vacation, it’s a good idea to either leave the furnace on or turn your water off altogether. This way, even if it’s below freezing outside your pipes will be unlikely to freeze and burst.
Even During A Blizzard, You’re Responsible For Sidewalks
No one likes shoveling their sidewalks during a blizzard, but keeping your sidewalks free of snow and ice is one of your responsibilities as a homeowner. If your sidewalks aren’t taken care of and someone slips and falls on your property, you may be responsible for their medical costs and related expenses. If your homeowner’s insurance policy includes a sufficient liability clause, these expenses will be covered but your premium may increase as a result.
What If A Tree Falls On My House?
Another unfortunately common occurrence during blizzards is for high winds and heavy snow to cause trees to fall down. In most cases, damage caused to your home or property from a falling tree will be covered by your home insurance policy. The cost of removing a fallen tree is usually covered as well. One exception is if your tree falls onto your vehicle (instead of your home), in which case it will probably be covered by your comprehensive auto insurance instead.
While you can’t predict or prevent winter storm damage from taking a toll on your home, you can take precautions and do your best to mitigate the effects. One of the best tools in your blizzard home protection arsenal is your home insurance policy, so be sure to spend some time reviewing your policy details before that big blizzard strikes.