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Think about the unthinkable...then you will be better prepared to financially survive it.
Carole Walker, RMIIA

Winter Storms

Damage Estimates

The insurance industry estimates the Blizzard of March 2003 was the most expensive winter storm from snow and ice damage in Colorado history. The estimated price tag was at least $93.3 million from more than 28,000 claims filed ($130.1 million in 2019 dollars). Most of the larger carriers activated their emergency catastrophe teams who specialize in handling disaster claims. This estimate is for damage to homes and automobiles and excludes the large commercial building losses resulting from the blizzard.

The lion's share of the damage was the result of wet, heavy snow causing collapses to roofs, porches, awnings, carports and outbuildings. There was also significant damage from downed trees and limbs, along with claims for wind, snow melt leakage, food spoilage and out-of-pocket living expenses for people forced out of their home due to storm damage. Most of the vehicle damage was due to being crushed rather than weather-related accidents.

"One of the biggest factors that has impacted the high insurance price tag of this storm is the rising cost to fix and rebuild homes in this current building market," says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "The average cost per homeowner insurance claim is more than $3,500 and many homes were completely destroyed due to roof collapses and structural damage."

Colorado's losses due to winter-related storms:

  1. $93.3 million in insured damages resulting from heavy snow and ice on March 18-19, 2003

  2. $10.5 million in insured damage resulting from heavy snow and ice on Oct. 24-26, 1997

  3. $6.4 million in insured damage occurred from Sept. 20, 1995

  4. $4.9 million in insured damage occurred on Dec. 22-26, 1982

In comparison: Colorado's most costly catastrophe in state history was a $2.3 billion hailstorm that battered the Denver-metro area on May 8, 2017.

Advice for Homeowners

Standard homeowners or business insurance policies cover a wide range of winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, wind damage, leaky roofs, and building collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow. Coverage for backup of sewers and drains also is available. Flood damage is excluded from most standard policies.

To prevent damage from the melting snow and from future storms:

  • Keep your home warm. The temperature in the home should be at least 65 degrees to prevent the pipes from freezing.

  • Watch for snow accumulation on the leeward (downwind) side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect. For safe removal that won't damage your roof, consult a roofing contractor for a referral.

  • Snow or rain that freezes in gutters can cause an "ice dam," damaging ceilings as melting ice spreads under roof shingles. Keep gutters clean of leaves and debris to prevent this condition.

  • Remove branches that become heavy with snow and icicles hanging from gutters and over walkways.

  • As snow melts, water can back-up sewers and drains resulting in flooding. Local government officials should be notified if street drains are clogged.

  • Stock up on fuel in case of a power outage, such as firewood or propane if you have a back up heat source.

Also visit: Cold Weather & Frozen Pipes

Additional Information