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NJ Homeowner Insurance Ice Dam FAQ’s

by KLP

Recent extreme cold weather and projected extended periods of snow on rooftops creates ice damming.  As a NJ homeowner insurance consumer do you have unanswered  questions about ice dams and your insurance policy?

What are ice dams? Ice dams are formed at the edge of roofs or gutters during the thawing and re-freezing process of snow on the roof. As continued melting occurs due to the home’s rising heat and warming the underside of the roof, the water runs to the cold roof edge where it refreezes. The melting and refreezing cycle causes the ice dams to grow larger and start to back up higher into the roof line. Melted snow trapped by the ice dam keeps water from draining off the edge of the roof. When this water backs up it can be forced under the shingles and cause dripping into the attic, the insulation, and possibly into living areas.
Would removing snow from the roof stop an ice dam from forming?  Ideally, removing the first three to four feet of snow from the roof-line following a storm greatly reduces the risk of ice dam formation. Care must be used not to cause damage to the roof in removing the snow. A roof rake or soft bristled broom is the best method. Removing snow from a roof can create a safety hazard to a homeowner due to falling ice and snow, the use of ladders, etc. Consulting with a roofing professional is the recommended method to remove snow from a roof for the safety of the homeowner and to minimize risk of damage to the roof.

If there is an ice dam on the eve of the roof, will the home suffer damage? Not necessarily. It depends on the construction of the roof and how high the water backs up. Roofs with proper moisture barriers over the sheathing are much less likely to allow water intrusion into the home.

Will insurance pay for a professional to remove the snow from my roof to avoid a potential loss/claim in the future? No. There is no coverage under a homeowner insurance policy for any type of preventative maintenance of the property. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to properly maintain their property to avoid any type of risk for loss.

What if water enters the home from the ice dam? Is there coverage? Most homeowner policies do provide coverage for the resultant damage to the structure of the home (ie, insulation, walls, ceilings, etc), however you should check with your agent for a review of your policy.  There is usually no coverage for personal property (ie, items stored in the attic, pictures hanging on the wall, curtains, etc) because an ice dam is not a contents-specific peril listed in the policy. Also, If there is a condition with the construction of the roof that caused the water to enter the home, there is no coverage to rectify the situation with the roof.

What if the water leakage from the ice dam is continuous? Should the homeowner wait until the ice dam melts and the leaking stops? No. Please be sure all losses involving ice dams are reported as soon as possible either by calling the loss directly into your insurance company’s 24/7 claim center or by contacting your agent. Early notice of claim helps your insurance company to better manage the loss and provide better service to their policyholder.

Still have questions?  Please call one of our Trusted Choice insurance professionals for a free comprehensive insurance review.  At Dickstein Associates Agency we provide a complete range of NJ personal insurance solutions for primary homes, vacation & coastal homes, rental dwellings and more.

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