Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Winter Storm Damage?
Snowstorms often result in property damage, slick surfaces that can lead to injury, frozen pipes or power outages. Based on figures from the Insurance Information Institute (III), homeowners reported $6 billion in winter storm losses in 2022, the second-highest amount over the last 10 years.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy anticipates the effects of snow, ice and high winds but not all types of damage will be covered. Before making a claim, review your policy to understand what’s included and excluded.
What’s Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance
In general, homeowner’s insurance provides compensation for damage directly related to winter weather. This can include factors beyond your control, like heavy snow accumulation collapsing a roof or knocking down trees. Coverage extends to primary and secondary structures, as well as your personal belongings.
However, the structures need to be maintained and in good condition. For instance, if your roof is rotting and you left it unaddressed, your carrier may reject your claim.
Although perils vary across policies, homeowner’s insurance typically covers the following instances concerning winter storm damage:
- Snow and Ice Accumulation: New England snowstorms can bring several feet of snow, causing damage to well-maintained roofs and grounds. Common effects of accumulation include roof collapse for primary and secondary structures, downed tree limbs and power lines. In these scenarios, homeowner’s insurance can help you make repairs and recover costs for any damages.
- Wind Damage: Although coastal communities may have exclusions, most policies cover wind damage involving your property and personal belongings.
- Frozen Pipes: Temperatures can dip below freezing both during and after a storm. If a power outage occurs, the risk of frozen pipes bursting increases. Coverage extends to plumbing repairs, any water-damaged structural aspects and personal belongings.
- Injuries: Even when you shovel and throw down salt, injuries can still happen on your property. Homeowner’s insurance extends coverage to third parties who experience an injury related to winter weather, paying for medical expenses and any legal fees.
Along with repairs, homeowner’s insurance can help with costs related to finding temporary housing if your property has become unsafe or uninhabitable due to weather.
What’s Not Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance
If you’ve been neglecting repairs or did not appropriately prepare your property before a storm, your homeowner’s insurance claim may be rejected. Common scenarios include:
- Not cleaning your gutters or making roof repairs. If an ice dam forms and your roof collapses from the weight or water seeps inside, your carrier will likely reject your claim due to negligent maintenance.
- Poorly maintained trees. If you have dead trees or limbs extending over your primary or secondary structure and a winter storm brings one of them down, your claim may be rejected for not maintaining your property. Especially in regions prone to high winds and heavy snow, keep your trees trimmed and have any dead ones removed from your property.
- Not preparing your pipes. If you did not add insulation, adjust the thermostat or attempt to clear a blockage before a snowstorm and a frozen pipe bursts, your carrier will likely associate the damage with a lack of preparation and maintenance.
- Flood damage. Although your policy may cover water damage related to a burst pipe or collapsed roof, flooding related to rising waters from snowmelt or poor drainage on your property will not be covered. Even if you live outside of a flood-prone region, consider supplementing your homeowner’s policy with flood insurance.
Strengthen the integrity of your property through repairs and upgrades that anticipate winter storm damage. To review and update your homeowner’s insurance coverage with a HUB International agent, contact us today.