Insurance Basics | Risk Coach Resources

Ice Dam vs. Roof: What Happens When the Ice Dam Wins?

Be aware of this homeowners insurance “gotcha.”

The brutal winter of 2014-2015 resulted in billions of dollars of blizzard-related damages. Unfortunately, many homeowners were inadequately covered and suffered financial losses as a result. Most home policies cover damage to the structure of your house when an ice dam damages it. But not all policies will cover the property inside your house when it’s damaged by water that backs up from the dam and runs down inside walls. You may be shocked to find that the damage to your attic contents, furniture, area rugs, or other property in your home is not covered.

Lessons Learned

Interior furnishings, floor coverings, electronics, clothing, etc., are generally not covered for damage caused by water from ice dams unless you have an “Open Perils” policy. This is one of the many reasons to get this coverage – so make sure you’re educated about your risks.

What to Do

Ask for an “HO5” policy that provides “Open Perils” coverage. This type of coverage applies to everything except certain causes of loss that are specifically listed:

  1. Earth Movement (earthquake coverage can be endorsed)
  2. Ordinance or Law (some coverage is provided by your policy)
  3. Water Damage (coverage for “Sudden & Accidental Water Damage” is automatically included; others types of water-related coverage can be endorsed onto the policy)
  4. Power Failure
  5. Neglect
  6. War
  7. Nuclear Hazard
  8. Intentional Loss
  9. Government Action
  10. Collapse (coverage for abrupt collapse is provided by your policy)
  11. Theft to a Dwelling Under Construction
  12. Vandalism or Malicious Mischief (only if the home is vacant more than 60 days)
  13. Mold, Fungus, or Wet Rot (some coverage may be provided in your policy if such results from a covered cause of loss)
  14. Wear & Tear, Deterioration
  15. Mechanical Breakdown
  16. Smog, Rust & Corrosion
  17. Smoke from Agricultural Smudging & Industrial Operations
  18. Discharge, Dispersal, Seepage of Pollutants
  19. Settling, Shrinking, Bulging, or Expanding
  20. Birds, Vermin, Rodents, Insects
  21. Animals Owned by Insured

A standard HO3 policy covers damage caused by only 16 very specific things – and loss to your personal property caused by water from an ice dam isn’t one of them. Coverage is extended to loss caused by:

  1. Theft
  2. Fire or Lightning
  3. Explosion
  4. Smoke
  5. Freezing
  6. Vehicles
  7. Falling Objects
  8. Volcanic Eruption
  9. Windstorm or Hail
  10. Riot or Civil Commotion
  11. Damage caused by Aircraft
  12. Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
  13. Damage due to weight of Ice, Snow, or Sleet
  14. Sudden & Accidental Tearing Apart, Cracking, Burning, or Bulging
  15. Sudden & Accidental Damage from Artificially Generated Electric Current
  16. Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Water from Plumbing, Air conditioning etc.

Neither policy provides coverage for damage caused by flooding due to tidal water, rain, etc. Always remember to discuss a Flood insurance policy with your advisor.

Contact Us

Our Risk Coaches are licensed advisors who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Contact your local risk coach, or call us at 855.227.8211, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Electric Insurance Company Risk Coaches help you assess your current coverages and exposure to risk based on the information you provide during your discussion with them. The services provided are for informational purposes only and do not create a professional or fiduciary relationship. Incomplete information or a change in your circumstances after your meeting may affect coverage requirements or recommendations.


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