7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 110
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming
Contact: Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524
If History Repeats Itself, Homeowners Should Prepare for March Weather to Come in Like a Lion—Insurance Experts Warn Coloradans to Protect Themselves as the State Enters Its Worst Month for Spring Snow Storms.
March 1, 2010 – Just about the time most Coloradans are dreaming of spring, they really need to be bracing for winter's snowiest month. March 17th marks the seventh anniversary of the state's most damaging blizzard that rang up insurance costs estimated at $93.3 million (more than $100 million in today's dollars) from collapsed roofs, downed trees and smashed vehicles.
The wet, heavy snow associated with these types of spring storms can cause major damage and it's a reminder that homeowners need to take steps to protect their property and finances from winter weather. In addition, last summer's wild weather took its toll on thousands of roofs, so if you didn't get a roof replacement from hail and wind damage, be on the lookout for any leaks.
Standard homeowners policies will cover most kinds of damage that result from severe winter weather, such as house pipes freezing and bursting or water seepage into the house as the result of ice forming in gutters and causing water to back up under roof shingles. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house. If you do discover damage, make temporary repairs and keep receipts, as those costs may be reimbursed under your claim settlement.
For more information on insurance & Colorado winter storms:
The key to preventing snow build-up and melting damage is to make sure there is proper drainage:
- Remove snow from window wells and all walls. Watch for snow accumulation on the downwind side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect and could lead to collapse. For safe removal you may want to consult a professional roofing contractor.
- To reduce the risk of ice dams forming, keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors. A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof's edge where it's cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls.
- If you can't easily inspect the roof, the attic is the next best place to check for problems. Look for moisture or discoloration.
- Make sure gutters are clean and stable.
- Make sure downspouts slope away from the building and carry water at least five feet away from foundation walls.
- Examine window and door seals or weather stripping. If sealants around those openings are no longer pliable and continuous, reseal or caulk them.
- If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
If you need a roof replacement make sure you hire a reputable contractor:
In the aftermath of last summer's storms there was a great deal of concern about homeowners hiring a reputable contractor to do repairs or home construction. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to choose a contractor. Also check with the area Home Builders Association, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Make certain they are licensed and have adequate insurance coverage.
Don't become a victim of disaster fraud. After a natural disaster, professionals often go from door-to-door in damaged neighborhoods, offering clean up or repair services. Many of these business people are reputable. Others are not. The dishonest ones may pocket payment without completing the job or use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code.
For more information on disaster fraud from 2009 hail storms:
RMIIA also recommends that you take these steps to make sure you are properly insured as we head into spring and summer storm season:
DO AN ANNUAL INSURANCE CHECK-UP
- Insurance is something most people don't even want to think about until they need it the most. But, understanding what is and isn't covered in your homeowners' insurance policy can mean the difference of being able to rebuild your home and replace your personal belongings. Homeowners need to do annual insurance policy "check-ups" to make sure they keep up with local building costs and have adjusted their coverage to include home remodeling and additions.
- If you don't have replacement coverage, consider spending a few extra dollars for coverage that pays for the cost of replacing the damaged property without deduction for depreciation.
KNOW WHAT IS & ISN'T COVERED
- The typical homeowners' insurance policy covers damage resulting from fire, windstorm, hail, water damage (excluding flooding), riots and explosion as well as other causes of loss, such as theft and the extra cost of living elsewhere while the structure is being repaired or rebuilt.
- Your policy also covers your legal liability (up to policy limits) if you, members of your family or even your pets hurt other people or their property, not just in your house, but away from it, as well. If you have a lot of assets to protect, you may want to consider an umbrella policy that offers increased protection against lawsuits.
- The standard policy does not cover flooding, so you may want to look into flood insurance coverage if you're concerned that you're at risk for rising floodwaters.
CREATE A HOME INVENTORY
- Make a home inventory that includes lists, pictures or a videotape of the contents of your home or apartment. After all, would you be able to remember all the possessions you've accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a tornado or fire? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
- It's easy to get overwhelmed, but RMIIA now has free software that you can download to help simplify the process! You can even add digital photos and scan in receipts, along with your room-by-room online inventory. Log on to www.rmiia.org for free home inventory software or a sample home inventory.
For more consumer information on insurance topics logon to www.rmiia.org.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.