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Winter is coming. Are you clear on what hazards your home insurance policy covers?

Protect your home and avoid getting buried by costly repairs this winter
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Yes. Your home insurance policy protects your home from various calamities that may occur. However, the winter months bring a lot of severe weather that could potentially damage your home in ways you may not have considered.

Snow and ice can damage more than just your roof

During the winter months, some days the snowfall never ends. This means that not only are you constantly having to shovel your driveway, walkways and sidewalk, but you may also have to clear the snow off of your roof. This is because the accumulation of snow can cause extra weight that your roof is not equipped to handle.

Some snow on your roof is okay, but experts suggest that once it accumulates to over two feet, you should hire a professional to safely have it removed. This is because your roofing material, which may not be covered by your insurance, can be damaged, and if left as is can cause and contribute to water seepage and structural damage.

Signs that may indicate water seepage include blistering and water stains or drops on your top floor ceiling. While cracks in your interior walls or warped ceilings could indicate structural damage to your home.

Not all water damage is equal – or covered

While most home insurance policies cover water or flood damage, it does not necessarily mean your policy includes all causes of water damage. For example, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, most home insurance policies include burst pipes coverage, however, water damage in the basement due to sewer backup may not be included unless it is specified in your policy.

Similarly, you may have coverage for severe storm damage, but it is not mandatory coverage, nor is sewer backup or overland flooding (overflow of rivers or dams onto dry land), so you may want to upgrade your policy to ensure your home is adequately protected against different types of water damage.

The dangers of ice dams

Ice dams are another winter weather hazard that could cause water seepage and damage to your home. Ice dams are the build-up of ice on the bottom of sloped roofs caused by melting snow that accumulates and freezes at the edge of your roof. If not removed, the ice dam will prevent melting snow from falling off your roof. And with nowhere to go, water can seep into your ceiling and walls causing extensive interior damage.

While you may have insurance coverage for the weight of ice and snow and certain types water damage, it’s a good idea to check your policy to ensure that you have ice dam damage coverage, as it is not automatically included in all home insurance policies.

Do your part by winterizing your home

While having the right insurance coverage is essential, keep in mind, you must maintain your home and property to avoid certain caveats in your policy that would nullify your coverage. The Insurance Bureau of Canada offers several tips on how to winterize your home to help prevent winter weather damage from occurring.

While some damage could be avoided with the right preparation and know-how, the best protection remains proper insurance coverage. For information on the best ways to safeguard your home from the hazards of winter, or for a competitive quote, click here.