does homeowners insurance cover ice dam damage and removal?

From roof destruction to destroyed ceilings, walls, and personal belongings — ice dams can wreak major havoc on your house. Discover how your homeowners insurance policy could help pay for problems caused by ice damming.

first things first: what is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on or near the edge of your roof. When snow starts melting or if a winter storm hits, an ice dam could prevent water from properly draining off your roof — resulting in water backup that could seriously damage your home's roof, ceilings, walls, insulation, and even personal belongings.

What causes ice dams?

These wintertime ice walls form as a result of a pretty complex interaction between outside temperatures, snow cover, and heat loss from your house. But to put it simply, varying temperatures on the surface of your roof can often lead to the formation of ice dams.

It starts when an upper portion of your roof is above 32 degrees (usually due to heat from your home escaping through your roof) and a lower portion is below 32 degrees. The snow cover on your roof will begin to melt from the warmer portion down to the colder portion, where it will often freeze and accumulate into what we know as an ice dam.

And the more snow cover, the more snowmelt there is to help build up the dam and even cause water damage to the inside of your place.

ice dams and homeowners insurance

Fortunately, standard homeowners insurance policies (including those from Esurance) provide coverage for ice dam damage — including any water damage to your home that's suddenly and unexpectedly caused by ice damming.

So whether your roof needs major repairs, your walls and ceiling need to be restored, or personal belongings like furniture or clothing need replacing after water seeps into your attic, your home insurance could step in to save the day.

It's important to note, however, that any damage to your place that results from a failure to properly maintain it will likely be your responsibility to pay for. So if you've known since last summer that your roof needed some repairs but you haven't completed them yet, there's a possibility that your ice dam damage insurance claim could be denied and you'll have to cover the repairs out of your own wallet.

Does homeowners insurance cover ice dam removal costs?

If an ice dam has developed on your roof but hasn't resulted in any damage to your place, your insurance company won't likely pay to have it removed simply as a preventive measure. That's because it's generally your responsibility as a homeowner to take measures to protect your home against issues developing further along the line.

But what if the ice dam does cause damage, you ask? Most home insurers will pay ice dam removal costs for the portion of the dam that actually caused damage to your place, but you're typically financially responsible for removing the other portions.

To better understand what your policy does and doesn't cover, it's always wise to speak with your insurance company. If you're an Esurance policyholder and have any questions or concerns, always feel free to give us a ring at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our licensed agents are here to help 24/7.

how to prevent ice dams

Of course, the best way to prevent having to make an insurance claim is to try and stop ice damming in the first place. While you may not be able avoid snow on your roof, there are some steps you can take to help prevent ice dam formation:

  • Before winter hits, be sure to inspect your place for sources of heat leaks — like electrical outlets, vents, furnaces, and even small cracks or holes in your home's walls — and seal them off.
  • Double-check that the insulation between your attic and the rest of your place is sufficient enough to prevent heat from your home from leaking into the attic.
  • Your attic should be properly ventilated so that any heat that does escape from your home can do so without warming your roof deck. You'll often see vents near the edge of your roof that serve to do just that.
  • Since ice dams can't form without snow, consider calling a pro to remove the snow from your roof for you. It's also a good idea to have them clear your gutters of snow and other debris. Plus, by maintaining your roof year-round, you'll be able to spot potential problems before they become major (and potentially expensive) issues.

get financial protection against ice dam damage and more with homeowners insurance from esurance

For a wide range of coverages that help financially safeguard your house and belongings as well as protecting your personal liability, consider Esurance homeowners insurance.

You can get a quote online or by calling us at 1-866-439-5633, where we can help you tailor coverages and secure discounts to help you save cash on your policy.

Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?
Learn more about how your homeowners policy could help pay for repairs to your home's leaking roof.

Get your free quote online

or call 1-866-439-5633