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Snow on the roof: What’s covered by your insurance?

How to
white roof with ice and snow

In collaboration with Promutuel

The dangers of snow and ice buildup on the roof of your home are real. Even though Québec homes and infrastructure are designed to withstand our harsh winters, every year we see cases of sagging or collapsed roofs and other problems such as water infiltration once the snow and ice melt. What does your home insurance cover in terms of damage caused by snow on the roof? Get the answer to this important question as well as prevention tips to help reduce the risks!

Covered or not covered?

The cycle of heavy snowfall and ice, followed by brief thaws and then more frigid temperatures appears to be the new norm for Québec winters. The result? When large quantities of snow and ice build up on the roof, excess weight and yo-yoing temperatures can wreak havoc on your roof. If damage strikes, would you be covered by your insurance? To find out, you need to check whether you have an “all perils” or “named perils” home insurance policy.

Snow on the roof: “all perils” (or comprehensive) insurance

Scenario 1 : The weight of the snow and ice on your roof causes it to sag in places. If you have an “all risk” insurance policy, you can rest easy: your insurance will pay for the costs related to this loss. Carport damaged by the weight of the snow? That’s covered too!

Scenario 2 : Has the snow on your roof melted and water seeped into your ceiling? This type of damage is common. To be covered in this case, you’d need to have added the
“Water Damage – Above Ground Water” endorsement to your policy. This additional coverage is highly recommended. Do you have this extra coverage?

Scenario 3 : Snow or ice falling from your roof injures another person or damages their property. In this case you need third-party liability insurance, which protects you against possible lawsuits. This protection covers unintentional bodily injury or property damage to another person and is included in the basic policy.

Snow on the roof: “named perils” insurance

Did you take out a “named perils” insurance policy instead? Let’s go over those scenarios again. A collapsed roof caused by snow and ice buildup may not be covered. It depends on the specific perils named in the policy. For example, you may be covered against fire, theft, or vandalism, but not damage related to the weight of snow on your roof. In terms of water infiltration, check whether you have the “Water Damage – Above Ground Water” endorsement. In the event of injury to others or damage to their property, your third-party liability insurance will come into play.

Read your insurance policy

As you can see, to avoid unpleasant surprises, it’s important to have a solid grasp of your home insurance policy, because there are many types of coverage, and some snow-related losses may or may not be covered. It’s in your best interest to go over your policy carefully and ask your representative about available coverage options and the applicable conditions or exclusions. That way, you’ll be able to adjust your policy as needed by taking out any additional coverage you are eligible for.

Secondary or seasonal residence and rented buildings

Does the information above apply to your cottage or multiplex rented out to others? Contact an insurance representative so you can choose the right coverage and get the coverage summary.

Preventing losses

Certain losses caused by built-up snow can be avoided with good prevention habits. Be vigilant and don’t wait for problems to arise!

Keep a close eye on your roof

It’s important to watch out for signs that it’s time to clear the snow off your roof. What to look for:

  • More than two feet of snow
  • Ice
  • Cracks in the walls
  • Door friction or inside doors that no longer close
  • Unusual creaking sounds
  • Ceiling deformation

Remember that it’s better to remove snow and ice from your roof and carport as it accumulates to avoid overloads. Get into the habit of doing so from the first snowfall. That way it will go faster each time you tackle the job! If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, call in professionals.

Clearing your roof safely

Always be careful when clearing snow from your roof. Telescopic roof rakes can be a huge help. Simplify your life with the SnowPeeler roof rake! The SnowPeeler can be used from the ground to remove snow two to three times faster than conventional rakes. That means you won’t have to shovel and lug huge amounts of snow, which reduces your risk of injury. The snow slides off on its own, making your job a whole lot easier, safer, and more efficient no matter what type of roof you have. This tool is really worth the investment. Now that you know all about the precautions to take and the home insurance options available for snow and ice on the roof, you can pick the best coverage for you and get out and actually start enjoying all that winter—and even snow—has to offer!

Easily remove the snow accumulated on the roof with the SnowPeeler!

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