Does my homeowner’s insurance cover winter storm damage?

It is hard to believe that we are already into the second week of October. Remember last year that “wicked” snowstorm we had at the end of October? The winds were terrible and the snow seemed to never stop. Unfortunately, we need to get ready again for the harsh winters of New England. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), winter storms account for about $1 Billion annual in claims. This makes it the third largest cause of property damage right after hurricanes and tornados.

I am not sure that I am ready for the power outages again not to mention the worry that a tree might fall on the house. It has been quite informative to monitor the claims that we have seen and see how they were handled. The claims ranged from ice dams to trees taking out part of a home.  The power outages caused frozen pipes and huge ice formations on the home but the good news is most of these events are covered by your homeowner’s insurance.  Your homeowner’s insurance will help with:

If a tree falls on the house, your insurance will pay for the damage it caused to your home. Most policies will also pay to remove the tree up to about $500. When the power goes out, the average house can maintain temperature for a few hours but when the power outage continues for longer you might experience broken pipes when the heat comes back on. Your insurance can help with the repairs minus your deductible.

Wind related claims are covered by most homeowner’s insurance. When shingles blow off your roof or your siding is damaged by flying objects in the wind, your insurance will repair the damage. If due to this damage your roof also leaks or water comes in from a broken window it is also covered.

Collapse of your roof due to snow and ice is another event that your insurance will cover the damage to the house as well as your belongings.

If the snow melts too quickly and you have water damage due to the water rising in your basement, this unfortunately is not covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance. It could possibly be covered by flood insurance offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. This would require you to carry this extra insurance.

When water is unable to drain properly by your gutters and finds paths to your interior ceilings causing water stains … this is covered by your insurance.

All of these claims do require that you have taken reasonable measures to prevent the loss. Your responsibilities usually are:

If an object falls on your home, you take measures to lessen the damage. This can be done by putting a tarp over the damage to slow the water seeping into the home.

If windows are broken by the wind, you should cover the windows with wood or other materials to stop the water from coming in.

If your roof collapses, try to contain the damage to as small a space as possible. Move as much as you can to an area where your belongings will not be damaged or cover them with a tarp to keep the water off of them as much as possible.

If the power goes out, keep the home as warm as possible. Keep doors closed. Be careful with kerosene heaters that they are well vented and not too close to walls or objects that could catch on fire. Run generators outside … not in the confines of your garage.

The insurance company expects that you will try to minimalize the risk of further damage. You will call the claim in quickly and document your losses with pictures. They will also need you to work with the adjusters to settle the claim quickly.

At Brownell Insurance we are there to help you navigate the claims process. We will help you understand your coverages and we will work with you to get you back in your home as soon as possible. Your homeowner’s insurance will also help with hotel rooms if you cannot live in your home during the repairs.

Take a moment and look at your home insurance. We will gladly go over it with you if you have any questions or concerns. There are discounts for you if you maintain your home well … Let us be sure you are getting as many as possible.