With winter fast approaching, it makes good sense to evaluate the property and home and look for possible damage or other areas of concern. Whether or not winter storm damage will be covered by any current PA homeowners insurance policy will depend on the type of policy that is in place and, of course, the type of damage that occurs.
Many standard homeowners policies provide coverage for plenty of winter-related storm damage that occurs as a result of wind, snow, ice, freezing rain, and severe temperatures. Before any serious winter storms occur, a homeowner with concerns about any extremely bad weather that may come there way would be smart to review their home coverage to find out which wintertime perils are specifically covered, and discover any that may not be.
Standard policies will not cover flood damage
It is important to note that standard homeowners policies do not provide coverage for flood damage. So, anytime that a home suffers damage from winter-related flooding, for instance, a heavy snow melt, this peril will not generally be covered unless there is a separate flood insurance policy in place.
Finally, for those families taking extended winter vacations away from home, and their house suffers damage while left unattended during the winter, there is likely to be some additional issues to consider. For example, certain policies have exclusions for damages that result from a home not being properly winterized (e.g., not shutting off the water and draining the pipes) or a home being left unoccupied for a long period of time (e.g., more than 30 days).
While most policies will provide some coverage for winter storm damage, the best option is to take steps to prevent winter-related damage from occurring in the first place. The following tips can help protect a home from some damages related to harsh winter weather:
- Clean gutters and downspouts so that melting snow can flow freely away from the house
- Inspect and repair roof shingles and flashing to prevent water damage
- Trim overhanging tree branches on the property
- Apply weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows
- Inspect storm doors and windows for broken glass
- Drain water from pipes leading to exterior faucets and remove garden hoses
- Insulate pipes that are susceptible to freezing, and
- Have the heating system cleaned and inspected
Maintenance and repairs will greatly reduce the chance that damage to the house will occur but are no substitute for having a PA homeowners insurance policy.