Snow adds to winter weather headaches for homeowners insurance

Icicles can be beautiful; however, they may also be a warning sign for ice dams.
Icicles can be beautiful; however, they may also be a warning sign for ice dams.

We are on the verge of having a record setting winter – both in terms of cold temperatures and upset residents.  As cabin fever approaches unbearable levels, I find myself saying that we are only a month or two away from spring (hopefully).

So, what does this weather have to do with homeowners insurance? Plenty.  Freezing temperatures are usually associated with freezing and cracking pipes; however, winter weather can cause other headaches as well.  

The biggest issue with snow – particularly in large amounts – is the stress it can apply to a home.  The first major risk associated with snow accumulation is the risk of the roof collapsing due to the weight of ice or snow.  It’s important to monitor the amount of snow on your roof and take preventive measures as needed.  A simple way to avoid this risk is to get the snow that has accumulated on the roof off of it.  There are many reasonably priced tools that assist this task.

A more frequent and common risk in cold weather climates are ice dams.  Ice dams form on your roof and can be cause catastrophic damage – a nightmare of any homeowner or renter.  Ice dams are caused by heat that collects in the attic and warms the roof – except for the eaves.  This causes snow to melt on the roof and freeze on the eaves. Finally, ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam.  Meltwater from the warm roof backs up behind the dam, under the shingles, and into the house – creating an array of damage and a potential homeowners insurance claim.  There are several precautions that can be taken to avoid ice dam formation.  First, as discussed previously, remove any accumulated snow off the roof.  Second, ensure that your home has proper insulation and venting – particularly in the attic – to avoid heat collecting in the attic.  This not only saves money on your energy bill; it also prevents potential homeowners insurance claims.  Lastly, keep an eye out for icicles hanging from your roof – it’s a sign that you may have ice dams.

Every homeowner’s insurance policy is slightly different so it is important to review your policies with your insurance adviser.  This should be done at least once per year.  It’s important to review coverage, deductibles, and discuss any potentially hazardous situations your property may present (and solutions for these hazards).

Now that it is officially March and daylight savings time is upcoming – spring is right around the corner.  Until then, enjoy what winter has to offer!