Does Insurance Cover a Roof Collapse Caused by Snow & Ice?

by Todd Duvall, Demand Media
    A winter wonderland may be beautiful, but heavy snow can collapse a roof.

    A winter wonderland may be beautiful, but heavy snow can collapse a roof.

    If you think the weather outside is frightful for you, what about your poor roof? In parts of the country with colder climates, snow and ice can build up on a roof in the winter, adding a tremendous amount of extra weight to the structure. What happens if it proves too much and your roof collapses? If you have homeowners insurance, you should be covered.

    Let It Snow

    Typical homeowners insurance covers damage caused by severe winter storms and blizzards, including roof collapses due to snow and ice. But not all coverage is the same. And in the case of roof collapse due to snow and ice, insurers look at several variables before deciding if -- and how much -- to pay.

    Maintenance and Condition Are Key

    Insurers don’t generally take roof collapses at face value. If your roof was old and in need of replacing before the storm, insurers can deny your claim or pay only for a depreciated amount of the damage based on the age of the roof. Ditto if the material you chose for your roof wasn’t the best for your area or if the structure of your roof had pre-existing issues. Your best defense is to keep records, take pictures and do an adequate job of maintaining your roof.

    Clean Gutters Help

    Even though homeowners insurance covers most damage associated with winter weather, you’ll still have to pay a deductible. Regular home maintenance can help prevent problems before they occur. Take your gutters, for example. Keeping free of leaves and pine needles and giving them one last cleaning before the snow season allows water from melting ice and snow to flow freely, helping prevent “ice dams” that can send water into the house through ceilings and walls.

    Insulate the Attic

    Properly insulating the attic is another way to prevent or reduce the risk of snow and ice collapsing a roof. Simply put, proper insulation can reduce heat loss. Not only will this save you money on your heating bill, but it will also allow any snow and ice build up on your roof to melt and slough off naturally as the outside conditions warm up. When heat comes out of your roof, if can cause snow to melt too quickly, causing heavier layers of ice when the water refreezes.

    About the Author

    Based in the Pacific Northwest, Todd Duvall has been a writer since 1983. He has written for various local, regional and national clients, winning numerous awards. Duvall received a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images