Ice Dams in Northeastern U.S. a Concern for Home Insurers

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  • The record snowfall in some parts of New England has led to many headaches for residents. Beyond having to constantly shovel the snow, school being canceled, public transportation being shut down, and more, there’s also the increased risk of having to make home insurance claims. This may be particularly true when it comes to the unique cold-weather phenomenon of “ice dams,” and insurance agents might be wise to start educating their clients about the risks these formations pose as soon as possible.

    “Ice dams” form when gutters get so filled with snow and water that they freeze over, and effectively start to create gigantic icicles, according to a report from Boston public television station WGBH. Typically, these will grow to at least 10 feet in a short period of time, and can take over the entire side of a home. Moreover, they pose major threats to owners in a number of ways.

    What’s the problem, and what can be done?
    One of the biggest concerns for homeowners when ice dams form is the fact that this can lead to water pooling on a roof, and dripping through the ceiling, leading to the need for potentially costly repairs, the report said. But further, icicles can grow to weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds depending upon how long they grow, and can pose a real threat for passersby, vehicles, and so on if they fall. For this reason, it’s generally advisable for homeowners to be proactive in taking care of ice dams before they get too big.

    “Use the days that are not snowy to try to chip away and bang away without damaging the roof, obviously,” insurance agent Susan Michal of Watertown told the station. “Or hire a fully insured and professional roofer [or] contractor.”

    The unfortunate reality is that many homeowners might have some misconceptions about what is and isn’t covered by their home insurance policies. For this reason, the agents who are most active in talking to their clients about the ins and outs of a given policy will likely be the ones who have the most success in terms of keeping people satisfied with their plans. Often, good communication and customer service is more important to policyholders than simply being able to cut premium costs, and thus, any efforts in this area will probably go a long way toward keeping retention rates as high as possible.