December 8th, 2014
Homeowners may not have considered property damage due to snow before, but as heavy snowfall is becoming more common around the country, they need to review their homeowners insurance policies before they have a problem. While a blanket of clean snow can be beautiful on the landscape, it can wreak havoc on a home. A foot or two of snow on a roof can be heavy, and when it melts, the water can find any tiny openings in the roof that formed over the past year and cause leaks.
Ask your agent about roof collapses
Most likely it would take a blizzard-size snowfall to put enough weight on a roof to cause a collapse, but this isn't unheard of. Homeowners should review their policy to see if damage to a roof, whether it's small or a total collapse, will be covered. Many comprehensive policies will cover damage if it is caused by the weight of snow and ice on the homes. However, the amount the insurer pays for damage to the roof and interior of the home may depend on multiple factors, including the age and material of the roof and how well-maintained it was kept.
How to prevent roof collapses
If 5 feet of snow falls on a roof, there is not much homeowners can do about it, but there are ways to reduce the likelihood of roof damage and collapses during the winter. Keeping the home in good condition year round is key. Homeowners should fix any damage to the roof as soon as they know about it to prevent small issues.
Homeowners can insulate the attic to reduce the amount of heat lost through the roof. Lost heat increases the rate at which the snow melts. As the snow melts, the risk of ice build up increases. Less heat escaping through the roof means the snow will melt at a more natural pace.
Clean gutters are also essential to handling heavy snow fall without the risk of damaging roofs. Clean gutters allow for melting snow to wash away from the home, while dirty and clogged gutters increase the risk of ice forming dams and pushing water toward the roof and house.