Snowmageddon buried western New York this week with the lake-effect snowfall. Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophic losses in the United States (after hurricanes and tornadoes). The good news for homeowners is that in most cases their claim for snow-related damages will be covered under the standard homeowners insurance policy.

Generally, the following snow-induced damages are covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy:

  • Wind-related Damages: Wind-driven snow or freezing rain that gets into the home because the home was damaged by wind is covered.
  • Fallen Tree Limbs: Tree limbs that fall on a house or other insured structures is covered for the damage the tree causes to the house and the cost to remove the tree (generally up to $500).
  • Weight of Snow or Ice: Damage to the house or contents caused by the weight of snow or ice that creates a collapse is covered.
  • Frozen Pipes: Burst pipes is generally covered provided that the insured kept the house warm and properly maintained the pipes.
  • Additional Living Expenses: Standard homeowners policies include additional living expenses (ALE) for insureds when a home is severely damaged by an insured peril.

Additionally, melting snow that seeps into a home from the ground up would be covered by a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The coverages discussed above are typical of a standard homeowners policy and are not guaranteed to exist in all homeowners insurance policies. It is essential for insureds to read their insurance policy to know what damages are covered.