The Jemez Agency
With the huge winter storm hitting the east coast, I thought I would do this week’s column on some of the common claims we see this time of year.
You prepare for cold weather and preventing some of the damage that comes with it. But what if, despite your best efforts to reduce your risk, you end up suffering damage from winter weather? Are you covered? Let’s walk through some very likely scenarios and determine what coverage you might have under a basic, unendorsed homeowner’s policy.
Scenario #1: You’ve experienced several days of single-digit temperatures and the freezing weather has caused a pipe to burst in your home. What’s covered?
Answer: As long as you haven’t left your house unoccupied and cold, most homeowner’s policies provide coverage for the broken pipe and the resulting water damage in your home and to your covered furnishings.
Scenario #2: Significant snow has fallen, causing damage to a portion of your roof and allowing water to leak into your house. What’s covered?
Answer: Damage to your roof caused by the weight of snow or ice, damage to ceilings and walls from water leaks, and water damage to your home or furnishings will be covered.
Scenario #3: A winter storm blows through causing a tree to fall. Depending on where it was located and where it fell, what’s covered?
Answer: If the tree is on your property and damages your roof, most homeowner’s policies would cover the cost to remove the tree and to repair the damage to your home. If the tree is on your property and damages your neighbor’s house, your neighbor should file a claim under their insurance policy. If a neighbor’s tree falls on your property and damages your house, your homeowner’s policy should pay for damages and reimburse you up to a certain amount for the cost of removing the tree. If the tree falls on your property but causes no damage to anything outlined in your homeowner’s policy (typically meaning your home, garage, shed), you do not have coverage for the removal of the tree unless it blocks a driveway impeding access to your home or blocks a ramp or other fixture designed to assist a handicapped person with entering or leaving your home.
Scenario #4: A huge chunk of ice falls from your roof and lands on your car (trust me – stranger things have happened!). What’s covered?
Answer: If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage on the damaged auto, the damage would be covered.
As illustrated above, old man winter can cause some serious damage – don’t wait until something happens to know if you’re covered. Be proactive and take steps to reduce freezing weather property damage risks.
The coverages described above are in the most general terms and are subject to your actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage language, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your policy or contact your insurance agent.