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Snow Storm – Are you covered?

Winter has arrived, and to kick off the season with a bang Buffalo, NY got hit hard. If that 90-inch snow storm has left you feeling worried about the challenge of digging out your car or driveway, or perhaps it’s made you question your homeowners insurance policy – probably not though. While Middlesex county being close to Buffalo, in the snow belt, and susceptible to lake-effect snow storms, it’s a good idea to be prepared. We quite possibly won’t see another storm of the magnitude for awhile, but lets review your policy anyways.

Is snow damage covered by home insurance?

For the most part, yes. For example, damage caused by the weight of snow typically is covered under standard homeowners insurance. So is damage from frozen pipes that burst – if it’s cold enough to snow, it’s often cold enough for frozen pipes.

Another snow peril that is covered is from fallen objects, like tree branches falling on your house due the weight of the snow on the trees. It’s a good idea to inspect your trees once all of the leaves have fallen to see if there are week or dead branches. It’s always better to prevent a claim than have to file one.

There is also the possibility of a fire in your home once the cold weather hits – at least indirectly. As the temperatures start to drop, in comes your heating system. If the furnace hasn’t been inspected in awhile, or your ducts cleaned, the potential for a malfunction is much higher. Maybe you’ll be lucky and a fire doesn’t ignite, but having a faulty furnace when you need it the most is never nice either.

Another indirect snow-related peril could be power outages. If your power is down for a few days this could lead to the food in your fridge or freezer going bad. Not all homeowner’s policies cover frozen food, but most comprehensive policies will. This coverage will typically have a $2,000 – $5,000 limit, so check with a HMS broker to see if you have this coverage, or if the limit is high enough.

What isn’t covered by home insurance?

Sometimes when a massive amount of snow accumulates and then suddenly thaws, flooding and high river water occurs. Flood insurance isn’t covered by the standard home insurance policy, and there is no way of adding this to your policy currently. If the city sewer system gets overloaded with rain water and backs up into your house however, that is covered, provided you have purchased sewer back-up coverage – at HMS we always make sure you have this coverage.

What about my business?

Business property coverage, for the most part, resembles the coverage provided by homeowners insurance. Damage caused by the weight of snow is covered; so is that caused by burst pipes. And again, flooding is not a provided coverage.

One thing to consider, if you don’t already have it, is business interruption coverage. That coverage compensates you if your business must remain closed for several days because of a covered event.

What happens if damage occurs?

No matter if its a snow storm, high winds, fire, or whatever the cause is, you should always take lots of photos of the damage to your home or business. Then, give HMS a call so we can report the claim right away. If the damage occurred not during or business hours and you need someone to start the process immediately, contact your insurance company directly. Every insurer has a 24hr claims reporting center, and they’re listed on the “report a claim” tab of our website.