Contact: Hugh Strawn
Date: February 17, 2015
Winter Storms & Homeowners Insurance
Filing a Claim for Damages Caused by Winter Storms
The recent winter weather has caused structural and property damage in the Northeast and New England. Roof collapses have occurred, and ice dams have formed on roofs that will cause delayed damage. The ice dam losses will become increasingly apparent as the weather warms, causing the snow and ice to melt. The Homeowners Insurance policy will help pay for some of the damages caused by the severe weather.
Typical Homeowners Coverage
Damage caused by the weight of ice, snow, or sleet inside the house is typically covered by the Homeowners Insurance policy. A common type of damage is the ice dam.
Typical Cause of an Ice Dam
Snow melts on the warm roof surface and drains toward the colder eve, where it freezes. Additional melting water backs up behind the dam of ice at the eve, pushes under the roofing shingles and drains into the house. Repairs of ceilings, walls, and furnishings damaged can be covered by the Homeowners Insurance policy.
The Homeowners policy can also typically cover damage caused by the freezing of plumbing systems in houses where the heat was maintained or the pipes drained.
If such damage has occurred, the Homeowners Insurance policy will typically pay for costs created by the damage. Such costs include emergency repairs to prevent further damage, additional living expense, debris removal, and the repair or replacement of the insured property.
The Homeowners Insurance policy coverages and limitations are easily determined. Reading the policy, which is written in an easy-to-read format, will inform the policyholder what is covered. Any limitations in coverage will be explained in the policy. Also, the policyholder can call the agent or ask the adjuster, for a summary of policy coverage.
Filing a Claim - The Process
The process is begun by first notifying the insurance agent or the insurance company's claim telephone number, as soon as possible. After alerting the right people there is a claim, the policyholder should preserve and protect the property from further damage. Be sure to keep an accurate list of all supplied purchased for emergency damage control.
Any damaged property should be saved until the adjuster has seen it. The policyholder should photograph the damage for the record, while preparing the room-by-room inventory of damaged or destroyed property.
Be sure to inspect the closets and any seldom-used rooms for damage. Also thoroughly look through the garage and any detached buildings to located damage.
Sometimes, winter storm damage is not immediately obvious or visible following the storm. Immediately notify the adjuster if hidden damage is found after the storm during the restoration process. Discovery of hidden winter storm damage is not unusual and the adjuster can usually modify the repair costs as needed.
Keep an accurate list of all additional living expenses, such as meals and motel rooms. Keep a copy of all the claims paperwork, as well as a record of meetings and phone calls related to the claim. And finally, be sure to leave a forwarding address and telephone number with the agent and the adjuster to ensure easy future contact.
The Property & Liability Resource Bureau is a not-for-profit association of property and casualty insurance companies. It is located in Downers Grove, Illinois.