Do you have huge icicles hanging off the gutters of your home? If you answered yes, you have an ice dam. Ice dams can create major problems for home owners. The build up of ice along the roof line can damage your shingles and allow water to seep into your home. In the midst of a traditional Michigan winter, many homeowner’s face expensive home repairs due to ice dams.
When heat escapes your attic it heats and melts the snow on your roof, even in frigid winter temps. The melted snow then leaks down toward the gutters. In the gutter section of your roof, the heat escaping your home can no longer reach the melted snow allowing the freezing cold temps to freeze it in the gutter, especially clogged gutters. The ice then begins building up both as icicles and as a block of ice backing up onto the roof. The ice can begin pushing up your shingles and eventually allow water to seep into your home.
What damage can a ice dam do to your home?
- It can raise shingles
- It can rot your roof deck
- It can damage gutters
- It can cause water damage to insulation and drywall
- It can cause mold to grow
- Hazardous icicles can fall and injure someone
Will home insurance cover damage from an ice dam?
The biggest problem with ice dams and home insurance claims is the length of time it takes for an ice dam to actually start damaging your home enough for visual evidence. Most home insurance policies are written to cover sudden and instant losses like high winds, tornado, burst water pipe, and fire. Home insurance companies do not want to cover damages from something that has been occurring over the course of years. It is possible to have an ice dam claim denied because the damage occurred over a long period of time.
For example: Year after year Joe has a problem with ice dams. The icicles seem to grow bigger and bigger every year. He knocks the icicles down the best he can and goes about his daily business. What he doesn’t know is a patch of shingles have been raised up, and throughout the year rain water is dripping into his home. After a major summer storm, he notices a large water spot on his ceiling. After closer inspection he can see major water damage in his attic which has rotted his roof decking, caused excessive mold growth throughout his insulation, and is now damaging his drywall. All of this damage was not caused by one big summer storm, but years of untreated ice dam problems.
The answer to the question of “Will home insurance cover the damage?” varies depending on your given situation. An ice dam claim can get complicated. It is possible for some if not all of the damage to be covered. The best way to find out is to file the claim and let a claim adjuster take a look at the damage. It is best to act fast when it comes to an ice dam claim. Do not procrastinate filing.
What if someone is injured from a falling icicle?
A falling icicle could possibly cause severe injury. Anyone living in your household including you, cannot claim medical coverage if you are injured by one. Liability coverage on a home owner policy never pays out to the home owners. However, anyone else could be covered. Mailman, neighbor, friend, or other person could file a claim for injury against your home liability coverage. Certainly you do not want anyone to get hurt on your property, so do not let icicles grow out of control on your home.
Preventing Ice Dams
As a homeowner, you are responsible for protecting your home from damage. That includes maintaining proper insulation and ventilation to prevent ice dams. If you cannot afford the cost of proper insulation or improving your ventilation, you can do other things to reduce the likelihood of ice dams. You can use a roof rake or ice melt product. Preventing ice dams can be dangerous work and may require a professional. Your safety is most important, so know when to call in the professionals.
What to Expect with an Ice Dam Claim:
If your home insurance claim is approved, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Your deductible will be subtracted from the claim payout
- Your home insurance policy will be surcharged for the claim at your next renewal
- You will be responsible for correcting the insulation and or ventilation problem causing the ice dam
Prevention truly is the best solution to ice dam problems. This is one claim you can avoid. If you see ice build up growing on your roof line, it is time to take action. Don’t wait until the damage is already done.
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