Winter Water Damage Threatens Ohio’s Wallets

The snowstorms that have covered Ohio may also present another winter-weather challenge to homeowners, as melting snow seeps into homes and causes winter water damage to personal property.

Winter Storm Costs:

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), winter storms cause an average of $1.5 billion in insured losses annually. Additionally, water and freezing accounted for nearly a third of homeowner insurance claims, averaging $8,861 per incident between 2011 and 2015.

“Area residents digging out from the most recent snows should take a quick look around their homes,” said David McMullen, vice president of Insurance and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “Take a special look at drains, gutters, and basements to help prevent flooding and water damage.”

What a standard homeowners policy covers:

Even though the storms have passed, residents aren’t out of the woods yet. Melting snow and ice can lead to costly winter water damage. This can come in several forms, and a standard homeowners insurance policy might not cover them all.

  1. Ice dams: Frozen or clogged gutters that force melting water into roofs are generally covered. When ice dams melt, water drips into the home and can cause significant damage. Remember to check for icicles – they’re a good sign of ice damming.
  2. Burst and frozen pipes: Homeowners insurance often covers damage caused by burst and frozen pipes. Homeowners need to have taken preventative measures, like keeping their homes at a reasonable temperature.
  3. Basement flooding from melting snow: Melting snow that seeps into the ground and through foundation walls is a maintenance problem, not sudden and accidental damage, and a standard policy might not cover it.
  4. Sewer and drain back-up: Standard homeowners insurance policies typically don’t cover this, but consumers can purchase water and sewer back-up endorsements for more protection.

    “Generally, homeowners insurance typically covers water that comes from the top down, such as rain and snow,” said McMullen. “However, these policies might not cover water that sneaks in from the bottom up.”

Protect Valuables and Pocketbooks:

To help prevent expensive winter water damage, consumers should:

• Clean snow and ice from basement windows, exterior drains, gutters, and downspouts.
• Next, make sure drains send water away from homes.
• Ensure you store important items in basements in plastic bins and on shelves.
• Always check that sump pumps are functioning.

AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency encourages all consumers to review insurance policies at least twice a year. Likewise, it’s also good to review it after big events like getting married, having children or buying a house.

Finally, remember that all insurance companies are different and policies will vary. Visit AAA.com/Insurance for more information.

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