For homeowners, it can be confusing as to what conditions are covered by which insurance policies. After all, winter poses a host of different problems, from ice dams to downed trees caused by high winds, to water damage from melting snow. Read on to find out if you’re adequately covered for these events.
With Snowstorm-Related Insurance Coverage, Timing is Everything
You’ll find that it’s easier to be covered right after a storm has hit. If your home suffers immediate damage following a big storm, and the damage is caused by snow, ice and wind, these issues are nearly always covered. It’s a little trickier, however, to make a claim when damage is caused by melting snow over time.
Do You Need Homeowner’s Insurance or Flood Insurance?
Unfortunately, after a severe snow storm, the effects can last far longer than the storm itself. Snow melt on gutters, roof leaks, even a basement flooded by water from melting snow—all are considered outside issues, even if they affect the inside of your home. For these, you would need to be covered by flood insurance. However, if items such as appliances or furniture inside your basement are destroyed, you’ll need to rely on Homeowner’s Insurance, because flood insurance won’t typically cover those items.
Is it Flood Damage or Water Damage?
The main difference between a claim for flood insurance versus water damage is how many people are affected. If a naturally occurring water source—rising rivers, coastal flooding and torrential rains—are flooding all the homes in your neighborhood, it’s a good bet that you’ll be covered if you have flood insurance.
Water damage, on the other hand, occurs when water destroys something in your home, but doesn’t necessarily affect the neighbors. For example, if a pipe bursts or a toilet overflows, this would be considered water damage, and you’d need to make a claim with your Homeowner’s Insurance.
How to Prevent Costly Homeowner’s Insurance Claims
It’s better to prevent problems than to have to make expensive insurance claims. In the winter, there are several things you can do to cover yourself before you have to contact your insurance company. Among the most common snow- and winter-related claims are frozen pipes and roof damage. To protect your pipes, insulate the pipes in colder parts of your home, like in the basement. Keep your house at a warm temperature. And when you go to bed at night, let the faucet drip slowly to keep pipes from freezing.
Roof damage can be tough to prevent. In winter, you can get ice dams, fallen trees from wind, or damage caused by hail. The best thing you can do is to regularly inspect your roof, and make sure you have adequate insulation in your attic. If you see questionable, potentially loose, tiles, have them replaced before turbulent weather strikes.
Remember, it’s a good idea to have flood insurance, not only Homeowner’s Insurance. If you don’t live by a lake or ocean, or in a low-lying area, flood insurance can still protect you from conditions caused by snow melt. When you live in areas like the Northeast, where snow is a regular way of life, it’s better to be covered and have greater peace of mind.
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