As we’re nearing the end of winter, the weather can be particularly unpredictable. One week we’ll get a blizzard, the next temperatures could reach sixty degrees or more. Blame the weatherman, if you will, but this transitional period brings its own unique set of concerns.
Around the House
A blanket of snow may make for a winter wonderland, but it also masks a lot of the damage that can occur over the course of a few snowstorms. Especially in the event of mixed precipitation, ice and hail can be the most destructive elements to your home. Fortunately, most homeowners’ policies provide coverage for hail or roof damage, but that’s a critical piece you want to be sure about prior to discovering any new holes in your home.
Whether it’s the precipitation actually striking the outside that causes problems, or the weight of the snow/ice, you’ll find that most comprehensive policies with insure such losses. They can even allow for damage caused by the formation of “ice dams” phenomenon along your roof. Sudden flooding from melting snow/ice and water infiltration into the home as a result of this thawing could also cause potential claims. However, this type of flooding is considered separate from flood damage, such as that which occurs if you live too close to a body of water in a flood plain. If you live in a flood zone, you’ll need to have a specific flood insurance policy, as that’s not covered by general homeowners insurance.
The rapid temperature changes can also wreak havoc on your plumbing. Between frozen pipes, burst pipes, the subsequent flooding, and sewage backups, a claim in this area can set you back thousands of dollars without the proper coverage in place.
The only thing worse than watching snow/ice wreck your own property is seeing the damage it can cause other people. If a tree branch falls on your car, or roof, it will be an inconvenience, but likely one that can be resolved by filing a claim. If, however, the same branch falls on your neighbor’s car, then he/she could potentially sue you. Fortunately, many homeowners policies offer assistance with legal fees needed to defend such liability issues.
Other examples include guests/service providers slipping and injuring themselves on untreated walkways, or falling snow/ice on your property striking a passerby. While this may sound rather far-fetched and out of your control, these scenarios go to litigation all the time. For extra protection in this area, ask your agent about umbrella insurance.
If you think you have a claim, it’s best to notify your insurance agent as soon as possible—most carriers even have 24 hour hotlines you can contact in the event of an emergency. Because they have access to your individual policy, they can best advise you of what coverages or limitations you actually have. They can also advise you of the first steps you should take to remedy whatever situation the end of winter brings.