Cost & Coverage
We make it easy to compare and buy insurance.LEARN MORE
Homeowners insurance covers ice dam damage to your home and personal belongings, but it may not always be worth filing an insurance claim.
Your homeowners insurance policy covers ice dam damage to your home and personal belongings
Certain structures, like fences, pools, patios, and docks are covered by freezing or weight of ice damage
Depending on the extent of the damage, check your policy deductible to determine if it’s worth filing a claim
The winter months present a number of potential headaches for homeowners. Winter storm damage, freezing pipes from arctic temperatures, and the very real possibility of your Christmas tree going up in flames are all serious issues to contend with. Fortunately, homeowners insurance covers all of those perils, but how about a massive ice dam that gathers on your roof and causes it to collapse into your home? Yes, homeowners insurance will cover that too, but that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily file an insurance claim.
In this article:
An ice dam is pretty self-explanatory—it's a buildup of water that dams up (or collects) on your roof and freezes, forming a giant ridge of ice. Ice dams form because one part of your roof (usually along the edges) is colder than other parts of your roof. When water from the warmer section melts off, it flows into pockets where ice has accumulated, creating more ice and pools of water. This forms a barrier between your roof and the gutter, making it difficult for water to drain. Depending on your roof’s condition, dams can often lead to leaks and roof collapses, creating an expensive problem.
Luckily, homeowners insurance covers this age-old home maintenance headache, but there are a number of preventative measures you can take to stop ice dams before they start. Additionally, it might not always be worth filing a claim if the damage amount is only slightly higher than your policy deductible. Frequent insurance claims lead to higher insurance premiums and increase the likelihood that your insurer cancels your policy.
For the most part, yes.
A standard HO-3 homeowners insurance policy doesn’t outright mention that ice dam damage is covered, but one would assume the insurer would consider it “weight of ice and snow”—a peril that is covered by standard coverage.
Furthermore, ice dam damage isn’t outright excluded in the policy, either. With all-risks dwelling coverage, if a peril isn’t explicitly excluded, then your insurance generally covers it. If your insurance company denies your ice dam damage claim, ask them to provide substantial proof via the standard policy form.
Something to keep in mind: when we say ice dam damage is covered, we’re referring to damage to your home and your personal belongings inside the home. There is a section of your policy that specifies that damage to certain structures on your property won’t be covered if the cause of loss is freezing, thawing and weight of water or ice. Those structures include:
Policygenius is the easy way to compare home insurance.
"Policygenius is an easy-to-use online service dedicated to educating consumers about insurance."
While homeowners insurance will cover damage caused by ice dams, they may not cover the cost of removing the ice dam from your roof. In fact, homeowners insurance generally doesn’t provide “preventative” coverage, so if the ice dam hasn’t yet caused any damage per se, your insurance company most likely won’t pay to remove it.
However, if the ice dam does cause damage and you file a claim, the insurance company will likely cover the removal of the remaining dam that damaged your property as part of your insurance claim payout.
One of the more confusing aspects of homeowners insurance is knowing when to use it. Yes, you’re paying the monthly premiums for a reason and you should be able to use this thing you’re putting money toward when something bad happens. But it’s not always worth it to file a claim.
For one, frequent claims make insurance more expensive and make it harder to get insurance in the long run (major insurance companies are known to turn down applicants with multiple claims in a short period of time—typically five years). Additionally, if the damage amount isn’t higher than your deductible, then you won’t be able to file a claim. (If the loss is $1,800 but your deductible is $2,000, your claim will be denied).
In terms of ice dam damage, it simply depends on the severity of the loss. Roof damage claims can be expensive, and that expense is only compounded if hundreds of gallons of water fall through and ruin a ton of your personal belongings. If we’re talking about an entire section of your roof giving way to a mini pond that causes thousands in property damage, it may be worth filing a claim rather than paying for it out of pocket. But again, it really depends on how high your deductible is and your claims history.
If we’re talking about repairing a roof leak, that’s something you might just want to pay for out of pocket instead, in addition to the removal of the ice dam itself. To remove the dam, consult a roofing professional or look into an ice dam steamer. (Yes, we checked—those exist.)
The best way to prevent ice dams and spare yourself the maintenance and insurance headache is to be proactive. Good ventilation, drainage and proper insulation are all suggested ways to keep this expensive problem from turning into an expensive disaster. Here are a number of actionable steps you should take ahead of winter:
Was this article helpful?
Security you can trust
Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
Copyright Policygenius © 2014-2020