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Is Ice Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

Ice Dam on Roof in Wisconsin

While winter in Wisconsin is full of fun activities like sledding, snowboarding, and ice fishing, there are some parts of the season that are not so fun.

Our brutal winters are notorious for being rough on our homes and causing all kinds of damage that can lead to difficult insurance claims with your insurance company. While things like snow damage and burst pipes are more well-known, there is another fairly common issue that can lead to a lot of problems and leave you looking for a settlement from your insurance company: ice dams.

What Is An Ice Dam And How Does It Form?

Ice Dam Diagram

Ice dams are pretty much how they sound. It is a build-up of ice on your roof or gutter caused by melting snow that then refreezes.

These dams build slowly over time as more snow melts and then refreezes when it hits them. This often happens because certain parts of your roof are going to be warmer than others, specifically the areas that see more direct sunlight. When snow melts from these warmer areas and then hits a colder area of the roof or gutter, it freezes again.

Most of the time, these ice dams are not the fault of the builder or homeowner. It can just be bad luck with how your home is positioned. However, improper shingle or gutter installation and other improper building techniques could be the culprit as well.

If not taken care of, ice dams can cause a build-up of snow and water that can lead to roof leaks or even collapses.

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Damage Caused By Ice Dams And If So, When Are They Covered And When Are They Not?

Roof Repair Cost

As always, make sure to consult your individual insurance policy and understand the commonly included pieces of homeowners insurance, but the simple answer here is YES, your homeowners’ insurance should cover any damage to your home from ice dams. However, insurance companies never like to make things easy.

If you have damage to your roof from ice dams, insurance companies will try to either minimize the damage that came from the ice dams or prove that you knew about them and were negligent in fixing it before it became a bigger problem. They are going to do this because, if they can prove that you knew about this issue and ignored it or that the damage came from another source, they will deny your settlement.

These are the kinds of games that insurance companies will play in order to save themselves money and prevent themselves from having to make large settlement payments. This is why it is critical to contact a public adjuster as soon as possible if you have damage.

How Do I Prevent Ice Dams In Case My Homeowners’ Insurance Doesn’t Cover Them?

Prevent Ice Dams

To prevent ice dams from happening, it is important to identify them early and take action. This means taking some time to inspect your roof every week or so to spot potential problem areas. We suggest that all homeowners consider the following advice:

  • Remove snow when you notice a build-up on your roof. Removal of the snow prevents it from sitting on the roof, melting and refreezing, causing an ice dam to form. This may involve you getting up on a ladder or using a long tool to get rid of the snow, in this case, be extremely careful. If you are not comfortable using a ladder, you can always hire a professional to remove the snow if it doesn’t drain properly.
  • If an ice dam has already formed, go ahead and try to remove it. Again, this may involve you getting up on a ladder or using a long tool to break up the dam and remove the broken pieces. Climbing up onto a ladder during the winter months can be extremely dangerous, so it’s important to do so with caution and not put yourself in a dangerous situation. If you are not comfortable using a ladder, you can always hire a professional to remove the ice dams.
  • Check your attic to make sure it is properly insulated to prevent major heat loss. This will prevent your home from allowing snow on your roof to melt and then freeze due to varying temperatures.
  • Installing water shields create a watertight envelope at the eaves above the eavestrough and can greatly reduce the odds of an ice-damming leak.

Ice dams are one of the most common kinds of home damage that we experience in Wisconsin. Even though they are common, many people are not sure what they are or how to identify them.

If your home is experiencing damage from an ice dam, we are here to help! Contact us today and we will help you through the process of filing your claim and getting the settlement that you deserve!

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