Does homeowners insurance cover roof collapse from snow?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers roof collapse caused by the weight of snow, ice, or sleet. But a roof that was previously damaged or in bad shape may not be covered, so it’s best to keep your roof well-maintained.

Stephanie Nieves author photoKara McGinley

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Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Editor & Home and Auto Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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A standard homeowners insurance policy will typically cover roof collapse from snow, ice, or sleet, as well as damage to your personal belongings if roof collapse causes snow to enter your home and damages your possessions. But a roof with existing maintenance issues or prior, unresolved damage may not be covered, which is why you should keep your roof well-maintained all year round.

Key Takeaways

  • Roof collapse caused by snow, ice, or sleet would be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

  • Damage to your ceiling and personal belongings would also be covered if your roof collapses on top of them.

  • It’s best to keep-up your roof all year round in order to avoid damage to the rest of your home in the event of a roof collapse.

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Can a roof collapse from snow?

Snow can certainly cause a roof to collapse under its weight, especially if repeated snow events prevent it from fully melting in between. If snow is followed by rain, the snow might absorb the rainwater, making it even heavier and harder to remove.

Most roofs can withstand up to 20 pounds per square foot of snow before becoming distressed — assuming they’re in good condition before it snows. [1] But a poorly maintained roof can support much less than that, so it’s best to keep your roof well-maintained in order to avoid significant damage.

Does insurance cover roof damage from snow?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers roof damage from snow, including roof collapse and related ceiling damage. Ice dams, which can cause your roof to cave in, are also covered. 

Below is how you’d be covered by a standard homeowners policy. 

  • Dwelling coverage: Pays for the roof repairs and other necessary repairs to the structure of your home. 

  • Personal property coverage: Pays for your belongings if they’re damaged by the snow — like if your roof collapses and the snow results in water damage to your stuff stored in the attic. 

  • Loss of use coverage: Pays for you to temporarily live elsewhere, like a hotel, if the snow damage to your roof is severe — like the entire thing collapses — and it’s unsafe for you to live there while it’s being repaired. 

Unless specifically excluded from your policy, homeowners insurance may also cover related weather conditions like:

  • Wind and hail damage from a blizzard

  • Water damage from a roof leak if a snowstorm creates an opening in your roof

  • Frozen or busted pipes — as long as the pipes were properly maintained prior to the damage

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When doesn’t homeowners insurance cover roof collapse from snow?

There are a few instances when homeowners insurance won’t cover your roof if it collapses. In general, if it can be determined that your roof was previously damaged or in poor shape prior to snowfall, then homeowners insurance likely won’t cover it. Below are a few examples. 

  • It collapses due to wear and tear. If there was a small hole in your roof already, homeowners insurance likely won’t cover you because it’ll be considered a maintenance issue. 

  • Your roof was corroded or had previous damage. If the damage could’ve been prevented by general upkeep, home insurance likely won’t cover you. 

How to prevent roof collapse

The best way to prevent roof collapse from snow is to maintain it all year round, especially in the months leading up to winter. To minimize the impact of severe weather conditions on your roof, you should:

  • Clean your gutters. Keep your gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow can travel through the downspout and into the ground.

  • Prevent ice dams. If possible, remove snow from your roof in between storms to prevent it from piling up.

  • Trim overhanging branches. Cut any branches that are hanging over your roof. This will prevent snow capped branches from melting on your roof, but it will also keep pests like squirrels and rodents at bay (you may need to hire a tree removal professional for this).

  • Insulate your attic. Proper attic insulation can keep heat circulating throughout your highest floor, causing most of the snow above it to slough away.

  • Look out for the signs of damage. Warning signs associated with potential roof collapse include sagging or deformed steel, a cracked or split ceiling, and bowed utility pipes, according to property and casualty experts.

  • Hire a snow removal contractor. If you want to keep your roof clear of snow without getting your hands dirty (or in this case, wet), you can hire a snow removal contractor to remove the snow for you. This will also ensure that the job is done as thoroughly as possible, so you don’t accidentally miss any spots.

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