Home > Property & Casualty > Protect your property from ice dams this winter

Protect your property from ice dams this winter

ice_dam_2015According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims for winter storm damage in the U.S. totaled $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Property owners can avoid business interruption, limit financial losses, and other adverse effects of winter weather by planning in advance. One of the most damaging winter threats that people often forget to take precautions for is ice dams.

An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. Failure to properly remove snow from your roof may cause an ice dam to develop that is large enough to prevent water from draining off the roof. This pooling water can then back up underneath roof shingles and seep inside the property.

In order to prevent ice dams from forming, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of all debris. In addition, clear snow that is 3-4 feet from the edge of the roof after every storm. A telltale sign of an ice dam forming is water stains or moisture in the attic or around the tops of exterior walls on the top floor. Be sure to take action if you notice any of these signs, as the roof membrane has already been breached and the damage could very well become much worse. If the dam can be easily reached, some suggest melting it by filling a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt (not rock salt) and placing it vertically across. If you cannot safely use a ladder or reach it, hire a contractor to remove the ice dam instead.

In order to mitigate damage from winter weather, have a clear understanding of your policy’s language and how it will respond prior to having to place a claim. Be sure to also track snow removal expenses in the event that you need to make a claim with your Property carrier or FEMA at some point during the winter. It is also important to seek outside counsel from property specialists. In some property policies, there is a Sue & Labor provision or a Preservation of Property provision that provides financial assistance to the insured for taking steps, such as clearing a roof, to protect one’s property from imminent or actual danger. To learn more about how to prepare for the winter, check out our Winter Weather Resource page. For even more resources, please see the AJG Disaster Resource page.


About the Author
Mary Broderick_jpgMary Broderick is an Area Senior Vice President and the leader of Gallagher WGA’s Property Practice. Ms. Broderick is responsible for the design and implementation of complex property insurance programs for Gallagher WGA’s corporate clients’ and has many years of experience working with complicated Business Interruption (BI) and Contingent Business Interruption (CBI) issues.

617.204.6709 | Mary_Broderick@ajg.com | Connect with Mary on LinkedIn
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