Today, Affordable Insurance in Aurora, Colorado offers our tips on dealing with homeowners insurance and winter damage in the Denver metro area. Each season brings different hazards, but winter can be particularly brutal for Colorado homeowners. Heavy snowfall and ice can wreak havoc on your home. It is important to know what kind of damage is typically covered by home insurance and what is left up to the responsibility of the individual.
Keep reading to find out more about what home insurance covers and the process of making a claim. Just remember that every policy is different, and this is just a general guide. Be sure to review your own policy for specifics and contact your provider if you have more questions about your homeowners insurance and winter damage.
Damage Covered by Home Insurance
As we said, to figure out exactly which type of damage is covered by your insurance along with the deductibles, you will need to check your policy. But in general, homeowners insurance will cover some damages caused by winter weather.
Homeowners insurance usually covers direct, unpreventable damages to the structure of your Denver home, due to extreme weather events or storms. This can include hail damage to roofs, trees falling onto houses, accumulated snow causing a roof to collapse and damage caused by high winds. In some cases, burst pipes are also included.
Damage that May Not be Covered
For homeowners insurance and winter damage, remember that coverage is not guaranteed. If it is found that the damages to your home were preventable, your insurance may not have to pay out. For example:
- A roof that collapses after a heavy snowfall may not be covered if it is proven that the roof was past due to be replaced, or that it had not received the recommended regular maintenance checks.
- Damages by fallen tree branches will not be covered if the tree had been neglected by the homeowner and knowingly allowed to become a risk.
- Burst pipes may not be covered if the insurer can show that you did not take steps to prevent the damage by draining or insulating the pipes, or keeping the heating on.
- If a home is left unoccupied for more than 30 days and damage occurs during this time.
If it is proven that you did not make an effort to protect your home from a damaging storm, your insurer may not be obliged to pay out. In some states, the occupants of a home are legally obliged to clear accumulated snow and ice from their sidewalks within four hours after snow stops falling. Failure to comply with these laws can void your homeowners insurance coverage if a claim is made concerning snow or ice accumulation.
Damage Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance
One specific type of damage that is rarely covered by your home insurance policy is flooding. Flooding is a widespread problem in winter, often caused by an accumulation of ice and snow melting quickly as soon as the temperature rises. Most homeowners insurance policies will specify that damage from flooding is explicitly excluded and that a separate, dedicated flood insurance is required for this type of damage. To lower the risk of flooding, be sure to remove as much snow as possible as it falls, and to clean your gutters and drains out thoroughly before winter. Often, an accumulation of leaves and debris left over from the fall season will obstruct drains and make it more likely for them to overflow and flood your basement.
To Make a Claim or not to Make a Claim, That is the Question
If extreme winter weather conditions damage your home, it is instinctive to want to make a claim on your homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of repairs. That’s what it’s there for, right?
Before rushing into a debate with your insurance company, first, check the deductibles set out by your policy and compare them to the cost of repairs. If the deductible is very close to the cost of damage, you may be better off paying out of pocket. Each time you make a claim on your insurance policy, the cost of your premium can be expected to rise. You can expect an even sharper increase in premium cost if you make two claims within the same year.
When it comes to homeowners insurance and winter damage, it is best to approach claims strategically. If the savings are minimal, keep the slate clean and your overall insurance costs low. In the case of a major disaster, such as a roof collapse, you can claim for this enormous cost to be covered by the insurance and get the best value from your home insurance policy.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Taking some steps to protect your home before the winter weather hits can pay off in the long run. Avoid having to deliberate on making a claim or paying for damage out of pocket by preventing them in the first place. Trim overhanging or unhealthy trees every year during the fall. Give your roof a visual inspection for loose shingles or broken flashing and have any repairs done before the snow arrives. Apply weather stripping and caulking around the frames of windows and doors and check for damage on shutters and storm windows.
Drain water from exterior pipes, sprinkler systems, and hoses before the freezing weather sets in. Make sure your gutters, downspouts, and drains are free from blockages. It is a good idea to document this preparation for winter in case you do need to show evidence of maintenance to your insurer to support a claim. Keep all receipts from professional tree trimmers or roofing contractors and take pictures of any preventative maintenance you do. These preventative measures will lower your risk of damage by winter weather and provide a sound basis for making a claim if you end up needing to.
When it comes to homeowners insurance and winter damage, the most important things are to know your policy and take precautions. If you are not sure about the specifics of your policy, or want to make changes to your homeowner’s insurance the next time it comes up for renewal, do not hesitate to contact Affordable Insurance in Aurora, Colorado. We specialize in providing easy-to-understand insurance advice to homeowners across the Denver area.