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Are Ice Dams Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

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As winter weather approaches, being protected by homeowners insurance is a must. This is going to help you cover any damages that may occur during snowstorms and the ice dams that form as a result.

Your homeowners insurance will cover the damage caused by ice dams since they are seen as unpredictable and unpreventable circumstances. These perils are covered by home insurance and are common in areas that experience heavy snowfall and will benefit you greatly if you ever need to file a claim.

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Key facts
  • Homeowners insurance does cover damage as a result of ice dams
  • Filing a claim quickly is the best way to get help when ice has damaged your home
  • Excluded circumstances on your homeowners policy can be protected against with endorsements and additional policies

When home insurance covers ice dam damage

Your home insurance policy will kick in during many situations that happen as a result of a snowstorm. Because this is a covered peril, you have a lot of protection against ice dams and what can happen if they are not properly removed.

Water Damage

If ice dams form on your roof, water damage is one of the main concerns to keep in mind. This can pool on your roof over time and create leaks that will eventually lead to repair work if the situation is not handled quickly. The water can also weaken the integrity of your roof by breaking or cracking shingles. 

These problems not only affect the roof but also the insulation, attics, and interior of the home. Ice dams do not seem dangerous at first, but it is when they melt and continue to re-freeze that they can cause the most damage. This happens because the ridges of ice can become very heavy and will leave behind large pools of water.

Structural Damage

Aside from any cosmetic damage that occurs as a result of an ice dam, they can also eventually lead to structural damage that will make your home a lot more vulnerable. Because your gutters are in place to provide a drainage point, having them obstructed or broken means the water will have no other place to go.

If water sits against your walls, this can affect the insulation inside. Insulation keeps your home temperature controlled and is a necessary part of living comfortably. When enough water begins to seep through, you are at risk of needing to tear into the walls and replace this insulation because of the ice dams.

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What is excluded from a homeowners insurance policy?

There are some areas where your homeowners policy will not cover you against damage from ice dams. 

  • While your dwelling is protected from these ice dams, other structures on your property will not always be included. Ice damage is excluded from fences, awnings, pools, patios, pavement, and retaining walls. You can take a look at your policy to see which additional structures are excluded from ice damage coverage.
  • Any personal belongings that are damaged by an ice dam will also not be covered if it is determined you had adequate time to move them to safety. Many policies exclude protection against ice dams because of this. If your roof happens to cave in from the weight of the ice and your furniture gets damaged because you did not move it, this is an example of an exclusion that would take place. Situations that are deemed preventable will also not be covered by insurance, so taking the time to perform some due diligence before the storm is very important. 
  • Keep in mind that filing claims repeatedly as a result of ice dams can also lower the chances of the insurance company following through with a reimbursement. You will be seen as a larger liability when you file countless claims with the insurer. This is why staying safe and prepared is always smart ahead of any winter storm.

If you are concerned about any of these instances, you can ask for additional coverage. This will either be given in the form of an endorsement that is added to your homeowners policy or a separate policy designed to cover the circumstances.

How does an ice dam form?

As a storm begins and the cold weather combines with the snow, this can create a lot of ice that begins to settle on your home. The problem with this is when the large blocks of ice melt and weaken the structural integrity of the dwelling.

  • Once the snow melts and travels along your roof and gutters, there is a chance it will re-freeze and get stuck. This is what creates a dam. These barriers can hold a lot of weight on your roof and will also prevent your gutters from working properly.
  • When you have blocked gutters, this prevents any melted snow from being able to pass through to the ground for drainage purposes. This means the water will have to sit on your roof, which can often result in leaks and cracks on the exterior of your home.
  • Your walls can also become susceptible to damage when the melted ice is not able to drain properly. There are a lot of pipes and wires inside the walls of your home, so all of these systems will be at risk when ice dams are created.
  • Many of these damages can result in costly repairs and replacements that are also very inconvenient. To make sure you are protected, you must understand what areas your homeowners insurance policy will cover in case ice dams form on your roof.
Are Ice Dams Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Ice dams are very powerful and damaging when they are left sitting on the roof of your home.

Does home insurance cover ice dam removal?

If your roof has collapsed as a result of the ice dam, homeowners insurance companies will generally pay for the cost of the repairs and the removal of the ice dam. However, if you are trying to get insurance to pay for ice dam removal in order to prevent damage to the house, the insurer will deny your claim because they consider it to be the homeowners’ responsibility to maintain their home. You will have to either hire a professional service to remove the ice dam, do it yourself, or wait for the ice to melt as it gets warmer outside.

How to prevent further ice dams

Preventing ice dams from forming in the first place is the best way to protect yourself from financial loss. Most insurance policies will cover you from interior ice dam damage, but up to a certain amount. To prevent any chance of not being covered for full repairs, it’s best to protect your home in advance and remove the ice dams or prevent them from occurring.

Here are the things you can do:

  • Plug any heat leaks you find
  • Redo your attic’s insulation
  • Hire a pro to remove snow from your roof

There’re many factors that go into ice dams forming and breaking through your roof into your home. By taking preventative measures and stopping the causes of ice dams, you protect yourself and your home from financial loss caused by ice dam damages.​

Ice dams are very powerful and damaging when they are left sitting on your roof. Because they are both heavy and can cause cracks or leaking, it is best to understand the type of coverage you have in place and to make your home as safe as possible ahead of time. You will be much more likely to receive compensation from your insurer when they can see you have taken steps to prevent ice dams from occurring to the best of your ability.

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Kristen Nadel has worked as an insurance agent for 4 years and has an extensive background in writing homeowners insurance content. She is also a published author residing in Oklahoma. Her creative spirit and tenacity for excellence allow her to stay inspired. Writing is more than just a task to her — it is a lifelong passion.
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