The Ice Dam Cometh: Insurance Coverage and Solutions For Roof Damage

by Rich Vetstein on February 10, 2015 · 7 comments

in Insurance, Safety

ice-dam-2As we shovel out from the snowiest winter in history, the Greater Boston area will soon be facing a new and potentially more destructive situation — ice dams and roof collapses. This could be the worst winter ever for ice dams and roof issues due to the ridiculous amount of snow still stuck on our roofs. I’ll take a minute to go over the insurance issues and preventative measures you should be taking now.

Ice Dam Insurance Coverage – Massachusetts

Interior or exterior damage caused by an ice dam on your roof is typically covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies. However, most policies will not cover ice dam or snow removal from your roof or anywhere else on your property. As with any insurance claim, call the claims department immediately and take photos of the damage.

Ice Dam Treatment & Prevention

The best way to deal with ice dams is to physically remove them from your roof. I’m not a fan of homeowners putting their spinal cords at risk by hopping on snow covered roofs, so my advice is to leave this to the professionals. Crews are out in full force clearing snow and chipping away at ice dams. Feel free to call my friend George Lonergan of Lonergan Construction in Framingham (Tel:  508-875-0052). Tell them Rich Vetstein sent you. Also, be aware of price gouging and scams.

In the short term, there are a couple things you can try.

  1. Try to remove snow from the roof but only if it can be done safely. A roof rake or push broom can be used but may cause damage to the shingles. There is an amazing new type of roof rake on the market called a Roof Razor which can be purchased here. If it’s not possible to remove the snow safely, call a professional like I did.
  2. Chisel grooves into the dam to allow the water behind it to drain off. This is a good emergency measure, especially if rain or a sudden thaw is coming. Be careful not to damage those shingles!
  3. Don’t laugh, but fill an old pair of your wife’s pantyhose with calcium chloride snow melt and lay it across the dam. I’m not kidding! It will help to melt the dam and also keep that area of the roof clear. DO NOT USE ROCK SALT! It will stain the roof and siding. It is best for small dams or prevention. It’s also a good idea to scrape the snow off the roof first.
  4. There are also ice melting pucks you can use. You can get them at Home Depot.

To prevent ice dams in the longer term, keeping warm air from escaping into the attic is the first course of action. More insulation and new shingles are a start.

Good luck with your roof!

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  • ferman wick

    Mostly, These situations will be depend upon at the time of the agreement in between of you and your insurance company.

  • Troubled

    PLEASE advise. My home insurance for my condo declined my claim!
    They left a voice message saying that the inspector/adjuster said the damage was due to an ice dam and therefore not covered!
    I live in a two floor townhome (no basement) and I started a claim for water damage in my garage wall and living room ceiling water stains. In addition there was also a leak in the wall between kitchen and living room that damaged a section of the hardwood floors. The harwood floor upstairs also buckled most likely from the leak. WHAT DO I DO? I got my insurance via Progressive and I’m told its Ameriprise.

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  • Mark

    Have owned my home for 34 years, and have filed two claims in all that time. Problem is one of those claims occurred about 8 months ago, and looking at my roof I see ice built up like never before. If I get water damage inside the house from melting, and the damage turns about to be so great that I have to file another claim, that would mean two claims filed in an 8 or 9 month period. I have been told that if I file two claims within an 18 month period that my carrier would drop me. I find this outrageous that after being a good customer for 34 years that I could be dropped for filing a total of 3 claims in all that time!

    • Janey Edwards-Martin

      Mark, you’re correct & it’s total BS ! ! Insurance companies have NO problem taking our $$ but when we need them, they drop us. I had the same ins co for 20+ yrs, made 2 claims 2yrs apart (they paid NOTHING on either 1), however they did INCREASE the cost of my policy by **** 3Xs **** !!! ~ because now I’m a risk……. ohhhhh there’s more – 30 days before my policy renewal I received a cancel notice …. that’s right, THEY CANCELLED ME !!! When I asked why, I was told “due to your 3 claims ” ….. WHAT 3rd claim I asked ?? ohhhhh well because I called them & inquired about something w/the central AC & that’s a POSSIBLE CLAIM !!! Homeowners insurance is a necessity, a must have, we need it ~ but it’s NOTHING MORE THAN A RIP OFF !!! (sorry for very long reply, I had to vent)

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