With winter soon upon us, it’s a good time to prepare your home and surrounding property for the inevitable harsh weather to come. In doing so, you should also review your home insurance policy, as some common problems brought on by the severe winter weather in states like Alaska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Maine, North Dakota may not be covered by the policy. Knowing what is and is not covered will help you strategize on how to best to winterize your home, which you should look into doing before any issues arise.
Only a sudden and entire collapse of a building (or part of a building) due to snow, rain, or sleet is covered by home insurance policies. These policies further define collapse as actually falling down or falling into pieces, which means an accumulation that causes any sort of sagging, settling, or bowing of your home’s structures is not covered. In other words, unless a snowstorm causes an immediate and total collapse of your roof, there is no coverage. Therefore, you will need to clear the snow on a timely basis. Most home insurance policies further exclude various other structures, including awnings, fences, and swimming pools, from coverage under the collapse hazard unless they are caused by a collapse of the house itself. If these other structures suffer a collapse on their own, they are not covered by the home insurance policy.
While the home insurance policy normally covers sudden and accidental discharge or overflow of water, it specifically excludes these issues if they are as a result of freezing. Therefore, if your pipes, fire sprinklers, or heating/cooling systems leak as a result of freezing, you must take care to avoid the potential problem that could arise as a result because your insurance will not cover damages. Additionally, most home insurance does not cover damage to the system itself.
Damaged HVAC Systems-
In addition to leaks and overflow caused by freezing, your home insurance policy will not cover you for the bursting, cracking, or tearing asunder of your heating/cooling system, fire sprinklers, or hot water heater. Due to the constant expansion and contraction caused by freezing, you need to be mindful of these potential problems that are excluded by the policy.
Additional Living Expense-
Your home insurance policy provides coverage for you to find alternate living arrangements in the event of a covered loss. However, as you can see, there are some common losses caused by winter weather that may not be covered by the policy, but will keep you from being able to live in your house. In these situations, you will not have the benefit of the additional living expense coverage. Therefore, it is especially important that you take the necessary steps to avoid being driven from your home as a result of an uncovered loss.
Interior Storm Damage-
The home insurance policy will cover damage to your personal property inside your home only if wind, rain, snow, or hail forced its way into your home and caused the damage. However, if you were neglectful and did not close a window or door, the intrusion of outside elements is not covered. You should be careful to properly secure your home against the elements during the winter months.