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Weather or Not – What’s Covered by Your Homeowners’ Policy?

The winter months usually bring more severe weather and much lower temperatures, and that often means an increase in weather-related damages to homes as well. What’s covered by a typical homeowners’ policy, and what isn’t?

Frozen Pipes: Water expands when it freezes, and that’s bad news for copper pipes especially. Pipes exposed to low temperatures can freeze and rupture, and when the ice melts the water begins to flow again … all over the place. Damages like this will generally be covered by your policy, but you should still take steps to avoid them in the first place. Shut off the supplies to any outside hose bibs and drain the lines. In extreme temperatures, letting an indoor faucet run at a trickle can help prevent frozen pipes.

Wind: Here in the Mid-Atlantic region we’ve had more than our share of extremely windy days over the past couple of years. High winds can cause minor damage, such as one or more pieces of blown-off siding, or they can bring large trees or limbs crashing down on a home, causing severe damage. In either case, a typical policy will cover the damages.

Snow and Ice: A fresh snowfall can be a beautiful sight. But a large quantity of snow can be too much weight for your home to bear. Aluminum awnings and carports are especially vulnerable to snow collapses. Your gutters can also be the victim of the accumulated weight of snow and ice, with the stress causing them to tear away from the house. A coating of ice can also bring down tree limbs just as he wind does. Again, your policy will cover these situations in most cases.

Lightning: More common in summer, lightning can directly damage a home or the resulting power surge can ruin your belongings like electronics and appliances. There’s not much you can do to avoid lightning, and a homeowners’ policy will usually cover such damages, but a whole-house surge protector can be a valuable investment to help avoid the damages in the first place.

What does a typical policy not cover? Natural disasters like floods and earthquakes often require separate coverage. Coverage options here will vary widely depending on where you live and how prone the area is to such events.

And one often-misunderstood quirk of homeowners’ coverage is this: if you do suffer a loss from a frozen pipe as noted above, your policy typically will cover remediation of the damages caused to ceilings, walls or flooring, but not the repair to the pipe itself.

Questions about homeowners’ coverage? Contact Consolidated Insurance.