Will home insurance cover snow damage to my roof?

Snow Has Damaged My Roof – Am I Covered?

Caeva O'Callaghan | June 16th, 2020

The good news is, your home insurance policy will cover you for damage caused by excessive snow. As winters get more extreme, it’s useful to know the exact ins and outs of your home insurance policy.

Damage to your roof caused by excessive snowfall is called “snow loading”. It’s a serious problem when it happens, but it is covered under most standard home insurance policies.

In this article, we’ll cover questions such as:

  • Will my house insurance cover heavy snowfall?
  • My roof is leaking in winter – will my insurance cover it?
  • Does home insurance cover damage to a neighbour’s property from fallen snow?

It’s no joke: falling or sliding snow can cause serious harm to property and individuals over the winter season. And with climate change having bigger effect, it’s worth checking your policy to make sure you’re covered.

Damage from fallen snow

“Snow loading” is when the weight of fallen snow, or the sudden movement of fallen snow, damages your property. It can cause horrendous damage to your own property, as well as your neighbours’ if the snow slides off your roof. Snow loading isn’t too common, and as such it usually falls under the umbrella of “frost damage” which insurers use to describe risks from sleet and ice.

This can include your roof caving in under the weight, snow suddenly moving and sliding off the roof, snow falling from the branches of nearby trees or frozen standing water causing holes in the structure of your home. Typical situations include snow sliding off a roof all of a sudden onto the pavement, putting pedestrians at risk. Or, the snow might fall onto your car, your neighbours’, or into the road. Snow might slide off one portion of your roof onto a garage, outbuilding or lower part of your property, and the sudden hit combined with the weight could spell disaster.

In the event that snow damages your roof, your home insurance policy will cover the cost of repairing it and replacing any damaged belongings (up to the policy’s stipulated limits), less the amount of your policy’s excess.

Insurers and frost damage

Frost damage is the term home insurance providers use to describe any risk that involves seasonal snowfall, sleet or ice. The only insurance company in Ireland that refers specifically to “snow loading” as an insurable risk is Allianz. They will pay the cost of repairing damage to your home caused by the weight of fallen snow or the sudden movement of fallen snow. Under this section, the maximum they will pay is €2,500.

Frost damage also includes frozen pipes and other winter hazards. Pipes can burst as water freezes and expands, causing a great amount of damage and water loss. This can also happen if pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice. For example, if a pipe develops ice outdoors but runs into your home where it’s warmer.

Another risk of snow settling on your roof are ice dams. These form when heat escapes through your roof and melts any snow which settles there. This water flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those oh-so-pretty icicles are a nasty sign of an ice dam underneath. Snow that melts slowly can’t properly drain, potentially causing a leak in your roof and water damage in your home.

Liability and snowfall

When property is damaged due to snowfall, the liability section of your home insurance policy will kick in. For example, if snow slides off your roof and squashes your neighbour’s car, your home insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs. This will apply no matter what company you have insurance with. Of course, this also applies vice versa. As long as your neighbour is properly covered, their policy will cover damage to your property caused by snow falling off their roof.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should forego regular maintenance. If a visitor injures themselves because you have ice or snow in your driveway, they could claim off your house insurance if you have public liability on your policy. Yes, your insurance provider will foot the bill, but it’s not all rosy for you. Chances are, you’ll pay more for your house insurance when you come to renew it as your insurer will increase your premium after a claim.

Preventing snow damage

To prevent a liability claim, clear your paths and driveways of snow and ice. Put down plenty of salt, and make sure it’s safe to walk.

Clogged gutters and downspouts are the number one cause of ice dams. Clear them of autumn leaves soon before the first snow to keep things flowing as they should. Insulate your attic well so that snow doesn’t melt from the escaping heat. Do this, and you’ll also get to enjoy lower energy bills.

And as far as possible, stop snow building up on your roof. Brush it down as often as you can, and keep a close eye on things to keep your roof in tip-top condition.

If you need to check what cover you have in place for snow damage on your home insurance, call us and we can help

If you are worried or unsure about the level of cover you have for snow damage on your home insurance, call us anytime between 8.30am and 5.30pm Mon-Fri on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our house insurance experts.

If your house insurance is up for renewal, you can also get a home insurance quote directly online. We compare house insurance in Ireland from 12 of the leading providers.