Common Winter Home Insurance Claims & How to Prevent Them

Winter storms can wreak havoc on your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2019, winter storms in the U.S. resulted in an estimated $2.1 billion in winter home insurance claims. Wind damage, damage from fallen limbs, ice damage, and frozen/burst pipes are just some of the dangers winter storms pose to your home. Prepare your home and prevent against avoidable damage, and make sure your homeowners’ insurance will cover everything else.

What are the most common winter home insurance claims?

Even during mild winters, cold weather can cause damage to your home. It’s essential that you have protections in place. The most common winter home insurance claims are:

  • Property damage claims related to wind, hail or fallen limbs
  • Ice dams
  • Frozen or burst pipes

Luckily, your home insurance policy will cover the majority of these mishaps.

Will my homeowners’ insurance cover a roof collapse?

Ice and snow buildup can be disastrous for a roof. If the roof cannot bear the weight of the ice and snow, it could collapse, resulting in extensive (and expensive) damage. Most insurance policies can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged or collapsed roof. Coverage limits will likely apply, so it’s imperative to check your policy to know how much it covers.

Even with insurance, repairing or replacing a roof can be a headache, especially in the winter. Prevention can be hugely influential in avoiding this unwanted cost.

  • Clean your gutters.
  • Clear your roof of ice and snow as necessary to help decrease the risk of a roof collapse.
  • Remove or trim trees that are too close to your house.
  • Replace old or deteriorated areas of your roofs to ensure structural integrity.

If you’re concerned about your safety or the safety of your roof, hire an insured professional to do the work for you.

Will my homeowners’ insurance cover frozen/broken pipes?

Water damage from frozen pipes is a significant source of winter home insurance claims. Frigid winter temperatures cause water to freeze, and the shift in temperature can be dangerous for pipes. Most homeowners’ insurance will generally cover resulting damage, but water damage can result in costly claims.

It’s important to remember that some frozen pipes can be considered a preventable problem. If your insurer decides the damage resulted from negligence, you could be responsible for paying the cost of repairs.

Take these steps to protect your pipes and avoid charges of negligence:

  • Insulate exposed pipes and seal cracks to prevent them from leaving or bursting.
  • Know the location of the main water shutoff valve.
  • If your pipes freeze, work quickly to shut off the water and prevent pipes from bursting.
  • Drain and disconnect hoses and sprinkler supply lines.
  • Keep your home warm (60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher).

Will my homeowners’ insurance cover ice dam damage?

Ice dams result from snow on your roof melting and then refreezing, forming ice on your gutters that prevents proper draining of runoff. This can cause water to buildup, inflicting damage to your roof, and posing the potential to leak through the roof and cause water damage. Dwelling coverage may help for damages caused by this common winter home insurance claim. However, it may not pay for the removal of the ice dam itself.

Some preventative measures may help you avoid ice dams and the costly damages they can cause.

  • Keep your gutters clean to allow water to flow freely.
  • Keep your attic well ventilated. Hot air in your attic causes snow on the roof to melt and refreeze, increasing the risk of ice dams.
  • Seal any gaps in your home that could cause warm air to leak into the attic.

Will my homeowners’ insurance cover wind and hail damage?

Wind and hail can cause damage to just about any piece of property. From roofs and windows to sheds and cars, there are few things that large hail and heavy winds won’t affect. Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies will cover damage from wind and hail, but it’s smart to be aware of any exclusions that may apply. If you live in an area prone to these types of damages, you may be less protected. Other exclusions include not being covered if outside surfaces and windows are affected in appearance but not in function. Don’t forget about your car insurance, either. Make sure you have comprehensive coverage that will cover the cost of hail or wind-related damages.

In addition to being well-educated about your insurance policies and common winter home insurance claims, there are some preventative measures that you can take*. While you can’t prevent wind and hail, you can certainly prepare for them.

  • Inspect your roof and repair/replace missing shingles.
  • Consider hail-resistant asphalt shingles with a Class Four rating from Underwriters Laboratory if you live in a hail-prone area.
  • Remove anything on your property that isn’t nailed down and could be moved by heavy winds.
  • Inspect your home for loose gutters, shutters, or shingles and secure them.
  • Trim trees and remove dead branches that could fall or fly when heavy winds occur.

For more information on home insurance coverage, or for your free quote, visit AAA.com/Insurance.

*Remember to discuss property updates/upgrades with your agent to ensure your investment is covered.

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