Extreme cold and winter weather ranks as the third cause of insured property damage, with only hurricanes and tornadoes eclipsing this. These statistics come from the Insurance Information Institute, which is an insurance industry group. Many people are unaware how damaging the cold weather can be. Property losses from snow, ice, and most importantly the freezing cold temperatures average around $1.2 billion dollars per year. The 2014/2015 winter season is already eclipsing this figure, making this season the fourth most costliest year for winter storm losses as winter has been pounding the north east and Midwest this year.
The main cause of property damage in the winter season is from frozen pipes. The average insurance claim for the damage caused by a frozen pipe is around $18,000 though these costs can vary in both scope and cost. You might consider this to be a high cost and you are right, but repairing the pipe that broke is the least costly part of such property damage. It is the water damage that ensures from a ruptured pipe which causes the most damage. The water damage which results quickly runs the bill up from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. Such water damage includes damage to the fixtures, finishes, flooring and drywall as well as peoples ceilings and walls. Of this the most expensive will be repairing walls and ceilings which have sustained water damage.
It is not just the inside of your home which can sustain property damage, the outside of your property is also vulnerable, especially if you have trees or other such landscaping. The sheer weight of snow, and the high winds can cause weak or dead branches to break off or snap, and both of these factors can cause the entire tree to fall over, sometimes even into ones house, garage or other structure. In the western United states claims for collaring trees range about $10,000, mostly due to how much larger the trees tend to be out west. In the rest of the country the average claim for a collapsed tree ranges from $3,000 to $5,000.
Another cause of immense property damage, one in which many claims have already been on the rise this season is that of roof collapses due to ice dams and the sheer weight of the snowfall this record winter season. Ice dams in case you did not know is the result of water which freezes along the edge of your roof. Ice dams are caused as the heat from your home melts the snow and ice then it freezes up at the edge of your roof as well as possibly seeping into the homes walls.
The good news is that your home owners insurance or renters insurance may pay for most of this damage. You will have a deductible of course, which could range from $500 or $1,000 so you will be responsible for this amount, if your claim is valid. You could be responsible for more if the damage done exceeds your current policies limits. Most insurances will cover the damage from burst pipes and roofs that collapse from the weight of the snow, as well as damage resulting from ice dams. Yet not all damage is covered, for example if melting snow seeping into your home overburdens your drainage and septic systems resulting in a sewer backup in your basement, this damage likely will not be covered by either a standard home owners insurance policy nor a flood insurance policy. To cover this sort of damage you must opt into a special policy or add additional coverage via an “endorsement” to your existing insurance policy.
The best way to deal with extreme cold weather damage is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.