First off, what are ice dams? An ice dam is a ridge of ice and snow that begins to form on the edge of your roof preventing further snow from falling off. When the snow begins to melt, the water has no place to go and can damage your roof and seep into your home damaging your belongings. It’s a potential risk that can be avoided – but are you covered for it?
Most homeowners insurance policies will cover your home for any structural damages caused by an ice dam. It’s a similar situation to that of a tree falling on your home. Because it’s an exterior risk that caused damage to your property, your insurance should cover the repair costs.
Some exceptions do exist, and your policy should be checked before it’s too late and you’re stuck with a damaged living room and no one willing to pay for repairs. Typically, any detached buildings like a garage or shed will not be covered under your dwelling coverage and will need a separate policy to protect them from ice dam damage.
Table of Contents
- 1 Interior damages and coverage
- 2 Ice dam removal
- 3 How to prevent further ice dams
Interior damages and coverage
If an ice dam causes melting snow to seep into a crack or a vent in your roof and cause interior damage to your home, your insurance company should and typically will cover the cost of repairs. If your walls or flooring are damaged as result of the ice dam, your insurance could save the day, but personal items and furniture could be a different story.
In most cases, your insurance will cover your belongings as well as your dwelling. Sometimes, however, you may need a separate insurance specifically for your contents. Check your policy to know if you’re covered for both your dwelling and your contents in the event of ice dam and other water related damages.
As with all risks and damages that could occur to your home, you hold a level of responsibility to maintain your home and prevent any issues from occurring. If your insurance discovers any damages that occurred from an ice dam could have been prevented by proper maintenance, you may not be covered for any repairs and held responsible to foot the bill. This means that if you knew about a hole in your roof for a couple of months and did nothing about it and this hole was the entry point for the water seeping into your home, you will be blamed for not taking preventative measures.
Protect your home and roof and prevent any ice dam damages from occurring before it’s too late.
Ice dam removal
One big question yet remains: will my insurance pay to have any ice dams removed from my roof?
Well that all depends on your insurance and the situation the ice dam exists under. Some insurance companies will pay to have the portion of the ice dam that is causing the damage to your roof. Other policies leave removal cost solely up to you claiming it as a part of your maintenance responsibility. This does not mean they won’t cover any damages that may come from this ice dam, they are simply stating that they are not an ice dam removal company.
Most insurance companies will not pay to remove a tree threatening your home as they are not a tree removal company – the same can be said for ice dam removal. They hold the homeowner to a level of responsibility by requiring them to take part in the home maintenance costs. Some companies may pay to have the whole ice dam removed as a measure of preventing any damages from occurring, but this is rare. Most insurance companies see ice dams as an uncommon risk that typically won’t end up causing any damage and would rather pay for repairs in the rare case they do end up seeping into your home.
Check with your insurance policy to see if you’re covered for ice dam removal and if so, under what situation you are covered. Most insurance companies will not cover the cost to remove ice dams leaving that aspect up to you the homeowner. Some may remove the part causing the damage and some might even pay to remove the whole ice dam. Check your policy to know for sure.
How to prevent further ice dams
Preventing ice dams from forming in the first place is the best way to protect yourself from financial loss. Most insurance policies will cover you from interior ice dam damage, but up to a certain amount. To prevent any chance of not being covered for full repairs, it’s best to protect your home in advance and remove the ice dams or prevent them from occurring.
Plug any heat leaks you find, redo your attic’s insulation, and hire a pro to remove snow from your roof. There’re many factors that go into ice dams forming and breaking through your roof into your home. By taking preventative measures and stopping the causes of ice dams, you protect yourself and your home from financial loss caused by ice dam damages.