Winter Weather and Your Homeowners Insurance

house in snow Winter weather brings snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures. These conditions, together, or individually, can cause a lot of damage to your home and property. Bad winter weather can cause injuries to yourself, your family, and others. Do you know what situations are covered by your insurance policies, and which are not?

Let’s say that it has been snowing, on and off, for the past three days. This results in an accumulation of a foot or more of snow. November is a busy month, so maybe you didn’t get time to go out and shovel the sidewalk in front of your home. Now, the temperature has dropped, and what was once a pile of snow has turned to ice. Someone walks on that icy sidewalk, slips, and falls. Will you be held responsible or will your homeowners insurance policy step in?

The answer depends on what the local snow removal statues happen to be. If you are, by law, supposed to be maintaining the sidewalk in front of your home, and neglected to do so, you may very well be held responsible for the accident. In this case, your homeowners policy might be helpful. The medical portion will help to pay for the medical bills of the injured person. The liability portion will help pay for court costs if the person decides to sue you.

Did the frozen temperatures make your pipes freeze? A standard homeowners policy will cover the cost of repairing the damages that are caused by frozen pipes. However, if you left your home vacant, (while you were on an extended winter vacation), and you didn’t shut off the water before you left, then your homeowners insurance might not cover things for you in this case.

There is a storm, and the wind knocks a big branch off of the tree in your yard. Unfortunately, the branch landed on your neighbor’s roof. Are you liable for the damage? Your neighbor might insist that you are, but that isn’t the reality. His homeowners insurance should cover the damages from the branch, not yours.

Image by Jeff Milner on Flickr