Tech Talk: Ice Dams and Roof Collapse…Covered or Not?
by Irene Morrill, CPCU, CIC, ARM, CRM, CRIS, MLIS, LIA, CPIW
VP Technical Affairs, MAIA
I am so over the snow, especially heavy, wet snow. Just
think, soon April showers will bring May flowers… and flooding. (So, don’t
forget MAIA’s Number One Insurance Agency can help with NFIP, Private and
Excess flood. Check out Number One’s Flood Concierge Program or Flood Insurance webpage.)
to snow, ice dams, and roof collapses. This TechTalk focuses on personal lines.
We’ll discuss commercial lines at a future date.
What is An
name suggests, an ice dam is a dam made of ice. Ice
dams occur along the edge of a roof line
when heavy snow buildup on the roof melts during the day, then refreezes when
temperatures drop overnight. An ice dam forms, preventing the water from
finding its way to the gutters and downspouts. Instead, it hits the ice and
becomes… even more ice.
the water backs up behind the dam and leaks into the building, causing damage
to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
In cases where
the ice dam goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, it can do
significant damage to the building and contents.
HO & DP POLICIES: ICE DAM LOSSES - BUILDING - PERSONAL LINES
Ice dam is
a "special form" peril, which means the loss is covered as long as it
is NOT excluded. If one has the
ISO HO-3 or the ISO DP-3, then the ice dam loss to the building IS covered
because there is no exclusion, and the only two freezing exclusions found in
the special form policy would NOT apply. The following is from the HO-2000/2011,
but the HO-91 wording is essentially the same and, so too, the DP-3 form
The exclusion regarding freezing of plumbing has
no bearing of what is going on here. The other freezing exclusion, which does mention
freezing and thawing, does NOT apply to things happening on the roof or top of
the structure; it only applies to items in the ground, on the ground, or in the
thawing, pressure or weight of water or ice, whether driven by wind or not, to
pavement, patio or swimming pool;
foundation, bulkhead, wall, or any other structure or device that supports all
or part of a building, or other structure;
wall or bulkhead that does not support all or part of a building or other
wharf or dock;
So, as the HO-3 states, if it ain't
excluded, it’s covered!
and c. above, any ensuing loss to
property described in Coverages A
and B not precluded by any other
provision in this policy is covered.
But the special form in personal lines is ONLY
special in regards to building. Open perils or "covered unless excluded"
ONLY applies to the dwelling and other structures in the HO-3 or DP-3. The special
form DP-3 and HO-3 covers all that is not excluded.
The language below applies to the HO-2000 program,
but the HO-91/HO-2011 and DP forms and editions are similar:
SECTION I – PERILS INSURED AGAINST
A. Coverage A – Dwelling and
Coverage B – Other Structures
insure against risk of direct physical loss to property described in Coverages A and B.
do not insure, however, for loss:
a. Excluded under Section I – Exclusions;
b. Involving collapse, except as provided in E.8. Collapse under Section I – Property Coverages; or
c. Caused by:
Ice Dam and
If the ice dam situation is BAD enough, then contents
in storage or in closets can also be damaged. Uh-oh! The HO-3 and DP-3 only provide
NAMED perils coverage for contents. The following is from the ISO HO-2000/2011,
but the ISO HO-91 and DP forms language is similar. The peril must be listed,
in order for contents to be covered. Weight of ice and snow is NOT ice dam! Nice
try, but no cigar!
B. Coverage C – Personal Property
We insure for
direct physical loss to the property described in Coverage C caused by any of
the following perils unless the loss is excluded in Section I – Exclusions.
Of Ice, Snow Or Sleet
This peril means weight of ice, snow or sleet which causes damage to property
contained in a building.
Weight does NOT cause the loss in an ice dam
situation. It is the thawing and freezing, and the leakage of thawed snow into
the home, that causes the loss. Weight has nothing to do with it!
You need open perils for contents to cover ice
dam losses. Under the HO-91 program you must add the HO 00 15 Special Personal
Property Coverage Endorsement to the HO-3. Under the HO-2000/2011 program you
would sell the HO-5 Comprehensive policy. In both cases, contents would then be
covered unless excluded, and the language is as stated above; so, an ice dam
claim to contents would be covered!
If one is a tenant and has an HO-4 under the
HO-200/2011 program, one can add the HO05 24 Special Personal Property
endorsement for "open perils."
What About the Personal Condo Unit?
As I am
writing this, I just got an email regarding ice dam in a condo unit. Who pays???
My response was, “What does the insurance section of the bylaws state?” Whether the interior building loss must be
paid under the Association Master policy or the individual unit owner HO-6
policy will depend on how the insurance section of the association bylaws read. Is the
association responsible for insuring the insides of the individual condo unit? If
so, that's a topic for the future when we discuss how the commercial policy addresses
ice dam or collapse.
association is NOT responsible for insuring the individual unit for ice dam
loss, then the unit owner needs the HO 17 32 Unit Owner Coverage A Special Form
endorsement for ice dam loss to building items. The unit owner needs HO 17 31 Unit
Owner Coverage C Special Form endorsement for ice dam loss to contents. Remember
the ISO HO-6 – whether HO-91, HO-2000/2011 – is a broad form NAMED peril policy.
Ice dam is NOT a broad form peril, it is an “open perils” policy claim.
What if the master policy is SUPPOSED to cover the
individual unit owner building loss, BUT has taken a large deductible. That discussion
is actually MUCH too long for THIS article. If you’re interested, email me and ask for a
copy of our older TechTalk on Personal Condo Policy vs. Master Policy Deductible.
Ice Dam and
Contents Under the DP Policy
There is NO endorsement to make contents
"open perils" under the ISO DP form. Contents will ALWAYS be named
perils. But is this really an issue since most DP forms are for tenant-occupied
structures and don't involve contents owned by the building owner.
and the ISO HO and DP Policies
Collapse is an "Additional Coverage." It was taken out
of "perildom" years ago, and included in the additional or other
coverage section of the policy so that the "all risk" nature of Special
Form wouldn't require coverage when none was intended.
Whether the ISO HO-91, HO-2000, HO-2011 or DP 1988, 2002 or 2014,
the language is similar and first requires that there be a "caving
in" or falling down of some part, if not all, of the building. (We are
talking about a building collapse, not collapse of a piece of furniture.) This
additional or other coverage will ONLY be found in a special form or broad form
peril policy. The basic form DP does NOT provide collapse.
HO-2000 reads (HO-91/HO-2011 and all DP forms are similar):
a. With respect to this Additional Coverage:
(1) Collapse means an abrupt falling down or
caving in of a building or any part of a building with the result that the
building or part of the building cannot be occupied for its current intended
Next, we discuss the situations where this will be covered. It is
essentially a "named peril" coverage within the DP-2 or 3 or ISO HO
policy. Collapse is only covered for certain listed situations. The first
b. We insure for direct physical loss to covered
property involving collapse of a building or any part of a building if the
collapse was caused by one or more of the following:
(1) The Perils Insured Against named under
other reasons why coverage will respond to a building or piece of a building
collapse, but since this article is essentially concerned with winter and
weight of ice and snow, please refer to the policy for the remaining language.
DP-3 or the HO-3 policy one of the contents named perils includes "weight
of ice and snow" as discussed above, so collapse due to too much snow IS
covered! (I would insert the little
dancing baby here but the communications department would kill me!)
So, in personal
lines, the collapse of roofs is covered due to weight of ice and snow. Good
news! The damage to the contents resulting from the collapsed roof would ALSO
be covered, because that IS a named peril under the DP-2 and 3 or HO-2 and 3.
language but HO-91 and DP2 and 3 similar:
Of Ice, Snow Or Sleet
peril means weight of ice, snow or sleet which causes damage to property
contained in a building.
Collapse and the Personal Condo Owner
is collapse damage to the unit, is the condo association responsible for
insuring the interior of the individual unit or is the unit owner? One must
read the bylaws. If the Master policy is responsible, that’s a commercial
discussion. If the unit owner is responsible for damage to his/her unit, then
the unendorsed HO-6 is sufficient, as the additional coverage collapse is
automatically provided in the HO-6 form as it was in the HO-3, as discussed
is a "named peril" additional coverage as written by ISO in all HO
Personal Lines Loss Payment
HO forms (HO-91, HO-2000, HO-2011) contents is always on an ACV basis unless
the HO 04 90 Personal Property Replacement Cost endorsement has been added. In
my opinion, this endorsement should be added to EVERY HO client whether a tenant,
unit owner, or homeowner!
only provide ACV loss payment on contents. There is no replacement cost
endorsement for contents. But, as discussed above, generally the DP form is
used for tenant-occupied structures and there is usually little to no contents
in the rental units.
losses on either the DP or HO policy SHOULD be on a replacement cost basis if
we have been diligent insurance agents. Regardless of the edition of the DP-2,3
or HO-3,5, these policies cover building losses on a replacement cost basis IF
the building limit is at least 80% of the building replacement value. If the limit of insurance is LESS than 80%
of the building replacement value, then the "underinsurance penalty"
Personal Lines Loss of Use or Loss of Rental Income
Loss of Use is "automatic" under the ISO HO forms. The percentage of
coverage available depends on both the coverage form and coverage edition. The Loss
of Use limit of insurance is in addition to the building or contents limit.
Loss of rental income is also included in Coverage D. If the loss is covered, there will be a
certain amount of loss of use coverage available.
and 3 provide an automatic limit of insurance under the Other Coverages section
for loss of use and/or loss of rental income. Like the HO form, if the loss is
covered, then the corresponding loss of use/loss of rental income will be
covered. Under the DP-2 and 3, this Other Coverage is in addition to the
Coverage A building limit.
ice and snow causing roof collapse is covered under personal lines policies if
broad form or special form perils. Ice dam is ONLY covered under special form
Watch for a
future Tech Talk on Ice Dams and Roof Collapse for Commercial Lines.
Please remember that part of MAIA service is answering questions
and providing information. Please feel free to email me when you have a
coverage question, problem or issue. Perhaps I can help – at firstname.lastname@example.org
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