Mitigating the risks of freezing rain with home insurance

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Winter means ice storms, but some cause more damage than others. Talk to anyone whose car or home was damaged or who went for days without power!

Of course, the weather is out of our control (at least for now), but between now and the next ice storm, here’s some information on:

  • Risks associated with this weather phenomenon
  • Home insurance coverage for material damage
  • Things you can do to prevent material damage
Ice Storms 101

Freezing rain covers everything it touches with a thin, compact layer of ice.

As snowflakes pass through a mass of warm air, they melt completely. This water then refreezes on any surface that is at or below freezing. The longer the storm, the thicker the layer of ice.

What are the risks for your home?

Ice can cause damage to the inside and outside of your home, specifically as a result of:

  • Falling trees (they tend to damage whatever breaks their fall)
  • Power outages
  • Seepage caused by ice dams on the roof or in the gutters
  • Collapse due to its weight and the pressure it exerts on roofs (and other structures)

The consequences of the damages will vary. For example, in the event of a power outage, you could lose the contents of your freezer.

What does my insurance cover?

Thankfully, damage as a result of freezing rain is covered by home insurance like ours. Here's what's included in Beneva's home insurance policy:

Damage caused by freezing rain or by a tree, branch, post, cable, etc. that breaks under the weight of ice and falls on insured property (house, condo, shed, fence, etc.).

Living expenses

When your home becomes uninhabitable due to ice damage, you can claim your living expenses (e.g. hotel nights, meals) for the time it takes you to return home. The reimbursement varies according to the amount stipulated in your contract.

You are also compensated when the authorities forbid access to the premises or issue an evacuation order. In this situation, your expenses will be covered for a maximum of 14 days.

Keep all your receipts!

You will need to submit them along with your claim.

Loss of rental income

When the weather causes you to lose rental income, you may be eligible for compensation.

Fridge and freezer contents in the event of a power failure

When this happens, you may have to throw away the entire content of your fridge and freezer… and that’s a real waste. Thankfully, your losses (prepared meals, meats, cheeses, etc.) are covered.

Rest assured, the insurer won't ask you how many shepherd's pies you threw away! Simply take photos of the food that expired due to the blackout to document your claim.

By the way, reasonable expenses incurred to preserve your food until power is restored can also be claimed.

Water seepage due to freezing rain: covered or not?

This will depend on your home insurance. In most cases, water damage coverage is optional, so you have to add it in.

When freezing rain causes water to seep through a roof, wall or window, an above-ground water endorsement may compensate you as long as you combined it with your homeowner, tenant or condominium insurance.

What if a large branch falls on your car during an ice storm? Our car insurance covers that kind of breakage as long as you took out the All Perils Other Than Collision or Upset protection. This same coverage applies to water seepage as a result of freezing rain.

How to prepare for the next ice storm

  • Before the next ice storm, trim your trees to avoid branches falling on your house or knocking out power lines.
  • Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit for use in the event of a power failure that includes:
    • Potable water
    • Candles and matches, or a lighter
    • Flashlight and replacement batteries
    • Non-perishable foods and a manual can opener
    • Heat packs
    • Hygiene and first-aid products

What to do in the event of an ice storm

  • Park your car away from trees, poles and wires.
  • Keep an eye on your roof: thick layers of snow and ice can lead to seepage or structural damage. It might be a good idea to have it cleared. If you plan to do that yourself, think safety first. Use a snow rake with a telescopic handle from the ground rather than up a ladder. Be careful not to rip off any shingles while removing the snow.
  • Check to see if ice is blocking the gutters and downspouts: water must be able to drain away.
  • Remove excess snow and ice from other structures on your property, such as garages, sheds, spas, swimming pools, etc.
  • Use deicers or abrasive products on sidewalks, driveways and stairs to prevent falls and injuries.
  • If you're expecting a power outage, turn off or unplug all appliances except your fridge and freezer to avoid overloading the circuits.

Keep calm and carry on!

You can't predict when the next ice storm will strike. But you can plan ahead to minimize the risk and inconvenience.

And if your property still suffers damage, take pictures and call us for back-up.