COLUMBUS – Snow storms that have recently blanketed Ohio may soon present another winter-weather challenge to homeowners, as melting snow seeps into homes and causes water damage to personal property and valuables.
Winter Storm Costs
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.):
Winter storms are the fourth-largest cause of catastrophe losses, resulting in an average of $1.5 billion in insured losses annually.
Water and freezing accounted for nearly a third of homeowner insurance claims and averaged $8,861 per incident between 2011 and 2015.
“Area residents digging out from the most recent snows should take a quick look around their home,” said David McMullen, vice president Insurance and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto club. “Take a special look at drains, gutters and basement entrances to help prevent flooding and water damage.”
What’s Covered, and What’s Not
Even though the storms have passed, residents are not out of the woods yet. Melting snow and ice can led to costly water damage. This may come in several forms, and not all are covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Ice dams: Frozen or clogged gutters that force melting water into roofs are generally covered. When ice dams melt, water drips into the home and can cause significant damage. Icicles are a good indication of ice damming.
Burst and frozen pipes: Homeowners insurance typically covers damage caused by burst and frozen pipes if homeowners have taken preventative measures, such as leaving homes heated at reasonable temperatures.
Basement flooding from melting snow: melting snow that seeps into the ground and through foundation walls is considered a maintenance problem, not sudden and accidental damage, and may not be covered.
Sewer and drain back-up: While this is not typically covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, consumers can purchase water and sewer back-up endorsements to provide additional coverage for water or sewage back-up into homes.
“Generally, water that comes from the top-down, such as rain and snow, is typically covered by homeowners insurance,” said McMullen. “Water that sneaks in from the bottom-up, however, may not be covered.”
Protect Valuables and Pocketbooks
To help prevent costly damage, consumers should:
• Clean snow, ice from basement windows, exterior drains, gutters and downspouts.
• Make sure drains send water away from homes.
• Ensure important items in basements are stored in plastic bins and placed on shelves.
• Check that sump pumps are functioning.
AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency encourages all consumers to review insurance policies at least twice a year and after life-changing events, such as getting married, having children or buying a house. All insurance companies are different and policies will vary.