The winter thaw is officially over in most of the country and while, for most of us, this is cause for celebration, for some, it may not be such good news. As the ice melts and everything turns green again, homeowners could be uncovering potential damage sustained during the winter months and others may be seeing wear and tear on roads and on their vehicles due to the elements. Here are eight spring hazards that could be plaguing you which may or may not be covered by standard insurance policies.
1. Spring Flooding
When winter snow starts to melt, rivers and creeks may rise. Mix in some spring rains, and there is potential for flooding in many parts of the country. While a standard home insurance policy covers water damage from sudden occurrences - such as burst pipes - it will not cover destruction related to spring floods. Fortunately, you can buy flood coverage but it has restrictions, such as coverage limits and exclusions for basement improvements. And coverage usually does not kick in until 30 days after the insurance is purchased - although there are exceptions to this waiting period, such as when a lender requires you to purchase flood insurance as part of a new home loan.
2. Ice Dam Damage
When wintry snow or rain falls, melts and refreezes on rooftops, ice on shingles can form a dam that causes subsequent snow melt or rainwater to back up. Those backups may allow water to leak into the home and ruin walls. Fortunately, you can usually file a claim with your homeowners insurance. While damage to our walls is likely to be covered, your insurance company will not pay to remove the ice dam itself from your roof.
3. Pothole Damage
Driving through a pothole may ding up your car or cause damage, but you're typically covered when you have collision coverage with your car insurance. If you don't have coverage, however, you're likely stuck with paying for the costs out of pocket.
4. Cracked Driveways
The freezing and thawing of severe ice and snow could encourage cracks in your driveway come springtime. But those cracks are considered wear and tear, so you probably won't be able to make an insurance claim for damage under a basic policy. One exception is if your neighbor somehow damaged your driveway - perhaps when laying out salt and sand to melt ice. In those cases, the neighbor's homeowners insurance may end up responsible for the bill.
5. Hail Damage
Springtime storms can bring hail that destroys siding and roof shingles. Fortunately, homeowners are usually protected under their home insurance policies. And if a window breaks because of a storm, that's typically covered too, along with resulting water damage.
6. Flattened Bushes, Trees or Landscaping
If a freak spring snowstorm flattens your prize bushes or spring rains wash away your landscaping, don't expect home insurance to cover your losses. This is considered normal maintenance on a home.
7. Rust Damage From Salt
Cars that drive through winter snow may become damaged due to the salt that's used to help melt snow that's fallen on busy streets. However, if the salt causes rust-related damage to your car, it's usually considered wear and tear, and isn't covered under typical auto insurance policies. The good news? Rust damage isn't as much of a problem with newer cars as it was in the past. But to be on the safe side, it's recommended that you thoroughly wash any vehicle that's exposed to salt or other potentially corrosive substances now that spring has arrived.
8. Damage From Snow Plows
If a snow plow operated by your local government takes out your mailbox or dings your car, your municipality would likely have a procedure in place for reimbursement. If this happens to you, check with your local jurisdiction to learn how to file a claim. If it's your neighbor who damages your property with their snow removal equipment, they (and their homeowners insurance company) would likely have to pay.
Even though springtime should be a time of renewal, you might have to clean up a bit of the mess from the previous season before the renewal can get underway. If you're concerned about any of these damages to your home or vehicle, make a call to your insurance agent to see if you're covered or not. Coverage could vary by state or carrier.