Avoiding Snow-related Home Insurance Claims
First came the 20-plus inches of powder, then came Monday’s ice and freezing rain.
“We’ve had a couple of inquiries for a little bit of water damage from ice damming,” says Dave Matthews of Sullivan, Keating & Moran Insurance. “Actually, we just had one before you came in.”
Ice damming happens when the snow near the top of your roof melts and slides toward the soffit, which tends to be cooler. That water freezes and builds up, forming a wall of ice that additional runoff can’t get through.
You can imagine what happens when water starts pooling on your roof. So are you covered when it starts seeping into your home?
“Most homes are insured on a replacement value, so they’re going to give you new for old,” says Matthews. “So the only thing out of your pocket should be whatever deductible you have and most people have a $500, some would have a $1000 deductible.”
Matthews says your best bet is buy a snow rake for about $40 and pull the snow down.
“Do not get on the roof and shovel because there’s probably ice under there and bones are not as cheap as shingles,” says Matthews. “I would rather see you put an insurance claim in than have a death claim.”
All that snow on the ground poses another big concern for homeowners. It’s going to be well above freezing Tuesday and Wednesday, and all that water has to go somewhere.
Unlike your roof, many homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover basements.
“That is not going to be covered by your homeowner’s insurance because that’s water damage coming in from the ground and it could be covered by a flood policy but that depends.”
What about your driveway and your sidewalk? Will insurance cover you if put off shoveling for a few days and someone else takes a spill?
“Yeah they would, because that’s a negligence thing,” says Matthews. “They’re not going to be happy about it, your rates will probably go up or you’ll get cancelled.”
If you run into trouble making an insurance claim, you can contact the Massachusetts Division of Insurance at 617-521-7777.