Is winter storm damage covered by my homeowners insurance policy?
Whether or not winter storm damage is covered by your homeowners insurance policy will depend on the type of policy you have and the type of damage that occurs.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for winter-related storm damage that occurs as a result of wind, snow, ice, freezing rain, and severe temperatures. You'll want to review your homeowners policy to find out which wintertime perils are specifically covered.
It is important to note that standard homeowners insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage. So if your home has suffered damage from winter-related flooding (e.g., a heavy snow melt), you generally won't be covered unless you have a separate flood insurance policy in place.
Finally, if your home suffers damage while you leave it unattended during the winter, you'll have some additional issues to consider. For example, certain homeowners policies have exclusions for damages that result from a home not being properly winterized (e.g., not shutting off the water and draining the pipes) or a home being left unoccupied for a long period of time (e.g., more than 30 days).
While your insurance may provide some coverage for winter storm damage, the best option is to take steps to prevent winter-related damage from occurring in the first place. The following are some tips to help protect your home from harsh winter weather:
- Clean your gutters and downspouts so that melting snow can flow freely away from your home
- Inspect and repair roof shingles and flashing to prevent water damage
- Trim tree branches on your property
- Apply weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows and inspect storm doors and windows for broken glass
- Drain water from pipes leading to exterior faucets and remove garden hoses
- Insulate pipes that are susceptible to freezing
- Have your heating system cleaned and inspected