What Winter Damage Is Covered By Your Homeowners Insurance Policy?

You may have a "set it and forget it" mindset when it comes to financially protecting your home and other assets from damage -- purchasing homeowners insurance and assuming that any damages in excess of your deductible are covered. However, many of the most common winter storm problems may be excluded from your policy, leaving you without recourse at the time of year you need it most. Read on to learn more about the winter damages that may be covered (or excluded) by your policy. 

What winter damage is covered by homeowners insurance?

Certain side effects of a heavy snow or ice storm -- such as downed trees, loose shingles, hail-damaged siding, or ice-covered gutters -- may be eligible for a homeowners insurance claim. In some cases, you may be able to make repairs yourself for less than your deductible. In other situations, you'll be able to have more extensive damage repaired for only the cost of your deductible. 

The problem with winter often comes when this snow and ice begins to melt. In some cases, flooded lawns or hillsides can weaken root structures, causing downed trees. Water may also seep into your basement through your foundation, widening existing cracks and weakening your home. Because this damage is attributed to the rising and melting waters, not the storm that caused precipitation, it is often not covered unless you have a separate flood insurance policy. 

What should you do to protect yourself from exempt flooding damage?

If you don't already have flood insurance, now may be a good time to purchase it. However, most states have time limits as to when the coverage kicks in -- meaning that purchasing flood insurance today likely won't protect you from rising waters tomorrow. However, this insurance may still come in handy for future storms and potential water damage. Talk with an agency, like Advantage Insurance Agency, to see what coverage is best for your home. 

In the meantime, you'll want to do your best to minimize the flow of melting snow in and around your home. Clear a path around the exterior foundation walls to prevent leaking. If you have a sump pump, be sure it is in good working condition and prepared to handle a sudden influx of water. Be sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris. If water problems do arise, don't put off a fix -- the longer water remains pooled in an area, the more damage it can cause.