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Understanding Home Owners Insurance Coverage with Snow and Ice Damage

Submitted by Nest Bend on
Do you know what snow and ice damage would be covered by your home insurance policy?

KAREN: Hi, this isKaren Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties. This show today isgoing to be super current because I’ve been out doing home inspections, lettinghome inspectors in all the way out to Sisters and then on the east side oftown, dealing with the snow and ice, etc.

I thought that I would have Allison Glasier back. She’s with Country Financial, and anything that you have when it comes to insurance or financial needs, she’s here to help.

But today, Allison,I’m going to keep you on homeowner’s insurance and what we can all be doinghere in Bend that would be beneficial so that if we do have a claim, it’s goingto be covered – because I know there’s some tips and some secrets about this.

ALLISON: Sure.Thanks so much, Karen. It’s really a pleasure to be back here again. So funny,I was here with you two years ago and we thought we were having aonce-in-20-years storm, and that was two years ago.

Hopefully thisisn’t the new normal, but I think that what everyone is learning is, especiallywhen it comes to insurance, this is the time to really make sure you’ve gotthat relationship with the person you work with so you know what you have andthat you have what you need.

So often we comeacross people who really don’t even know who their insurance company is. Maybeit was put together when they closed their home loan and they have never metthe person or the company. They haven’t reviewed the documents, they reallydon’t know what their deductible is, they don’t know what it’s covering.

KAREN: And howquickly that insurance company can react, too, if you make a call, if you havea leak going.

ALLISON:Absolutely. I’ve come across a couple policies from competitors recently thathave a 1% deductible. So if your home’s insured for $500,000, you’re out $5,000before your policy kicks in. That’s something that – you want to review thosedocuments. I think going into any kind of potential claim situation, it’sreally about knowledge and being educated on what you’re paying for and whatit’s going to do.

KAREN: Sure. Nowlet’s get to the nitty-gritty. If you take that snow off your roof… [laughs]

ALLISON: [laughs]This is such an interesting…

KAREN: Go over thisagain, because it makes no sense to me.

ALLISON: I agree,and I did a lot of research two years ago when we were in this situation tofigure out how to properly advise my clients.

What we learned wasthat the weight of ice and snow is typically covered under a home insurancepolicy. I can’t, of course, speak to all companies and all policies, but thatis what I almost see. You’re going to have that coverage for the weight of iceand snow should your roof collapse or should there be some damage that’sresulting from that.

The irony is thatall of us who get up on top of our roofs and try to shovel that off of the roofto alleviate that stress, we’re creating a big pile of snow on the ground. Whenthat melts, it becomes groundwater. If the groundwater comes into your home,that is by definition a flood, which is excluded from your home insurancepolicy.

KAREN: Unless youhave a flood policy, which hardly anybody here would have one.

ALLISON: I’ll tellyou, I’ve sold three flood policies in 12 years, and those are to people thathave second homes in Lincoln City. [laughs] Nobody in Bend has flood insurance.It’s just not something that we think about here.

I did have people acouple years ago who said, “Okay, let me get a flood insurance policy.” Thekicker on that is that there is a 30-day waiting period.

KAREN: Yeah, sothat’s not going to work.

ALLISON: It’s notgoing to work for this storm.

KAREN: What aboutice dams? You didn’t address those on the roof. If you’ve got ice dams, thatshould be covered by your insurance company.

ALLISON: It shouldbe covered by your insurance company, but it is going to come down to the PerilCode.

KAREN: What’s that?

ALLISON: Right,exactly. Not to get too insurance jargon nerdy with you – call your agent andask them what your Peril Code is, because it will make a difference on whetheror not your policy is going to cover the interior based on the damage from theice dam, or if it will replace the roof also based on that ice dam.

So again, this iswhere it really matters. For most of us, our home is our biggest asset. To knowwhat you have and to be paying for what you need on that is really key.

KAREN: I hadsomeone text in a few questions. It happens to be my daughter, KristinMarshall, also a broker with me at RE/MAX and out in the snow showing propertyright now. She wanted me to ask you, Allison – here’s her first question.

She has a claimright now. There was water coming into her son’s bedroom and through theirmaster closet from ice dams. Her question is: “Since this is my first claim inalmost 10 years as a homeowner, will my insurance go up, and do you know howmuch?”

ALLISON: Ooh,that’s a fair question. The answer is I honestly don’t know, because somecompanies have a claim forgiveness clause that’s built into their contract.Really, it’s all marketing. All of those companies are trying to pay claimsfairly and bring in enough premium to do that.

So it will comedown to your company contract, how that plays out, what your longevity lookslike. With some companies, if you’ve been with them for five years orsomething, that first claim is forgiven. It just depends on that specificverbiage.

KAREN: Okay, andher second question: “Are insurance companies going to be covering items like roofheat strips, something preventative so that these leaks and damage doesn’thappen in the future?”

ALLISON: When yousay covering, like would we replace the roof strips?

KAREN: Or dosomething preventative.

ALLISON: I thinkthat we will see more of a trend of people encouraging proactive protectivemeasures.

KAREN: Let’s getback on that. We’re going to take a quick break, and I want to know more aboutthe preventative.

ALLISON: Thatsounds good.

KAREN: We’ll beback in a second.

Welcome back to HouseTalk. This is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties Been out working all week in this snow, so if you’re thinkingabout listing or buying, give us a call at (541) 390-3326.

I’m happy towelcome back Allison Glasier from Country Financial. She’s our go-to gal. She’smy insurance agent and handles my life insurance and all kinds of things, so ifyou need anything financial or insurance-based, I would recommend AllisonGlasier.

When we left forthe break, we were discussing – my daughter had sent in a question: areinsurance companies covering items like roof heat strips to prevent this in thefuture? I think what Kristin was trying to say is, are some insurance companiesgoing to be proactive about doing something preventative? Because even thoughtthis doesn’t seem like our normal, it’s certainly not becoming abnormal to havethese heavy snows. Allison, could you speak to that question?

ALLISON: Sure. Ithink that’s a really fair question and something that’s on a lot of people’sminds. Just to back up a little bit, when I started in this industry in 2007, Icould insure a standard home for $300 or $400 a year.

KAREN: Yeah, Iremember. [laughs]

ALLISON: Oh yeah.And now you’re looking at $700, $800, $900 for that same home. The fact is thatinsurance rates are going to continue to go up. Companies are going to takethose rate changes at different times.

But the bottom lineis that if you’re watching the news, you’re seeing these storms – you saw thefires last year in California, you’ve seen the devastation that’s happeningbased on some of these weather patterns – obviously that’s going to result inmassive payouts, which is going to result in increased premiums.

KAREN: Foreveryone, nationwide.

ALLISON: Foreveryone. That’s how it works. Insurance is a distribution of that risk. As theseweather extremes become more of a pattern, I think all companies are looking tosay, how do we remain competitive but also remain in a position where we canpay our claims fairly and correctly?

KAREN: Sure.

ALLISON: Right. Sothere will be more segmentation happening. I think things like metal roofs or,like you said, some heated gutters –

KAREN: Is that whatsegmentation means? Pretend I’m five and I don’t know what you’re talkingabout. [laughs] What does segmentation mean?

ALLISON: Sorry forthe jargon. Segmentation is where a company is going to try to really identifyand distinguish the different risks so that they can charge the right amount ofmoney for that specific type of risk.

KAREN: Okay, so ifyou add a metal roof or something, they may in the future charge you less,because obviously it’s not going to catch on fire.

ALLISON: Sure.Their probability of paying that claim is going to be less. So I think you aregoing to see companies come up with more of a niche, that they’re looking for acertain type of home or a certain type of homeowner.

KAREN: Sure.Kristin also – and I’ll repeat, Kristin Marshall, she’s a broker with me atRE/MAX – here’s her third question. “While having more than ice dam leak duringone storm is considered one event, does having more than one leak in the sameevent affect the claim differently?”

ALLISON: She’swanting to know if the same storm is causing multiple issues…?

KAREN: Yeah, isthat multiple claims, or is that going to be one claim for them? Just tosidetrack a little bit, their baby’s room, the walls are now being removed, themaster closet. They’ve got a lot of leaks coming through. Is that going to betwo claims or one claim on their record? That I think is her question.

ALLISON: If it wereme, I would be reporting that as multiple responses to one occurrence.

KAREN: Okay,multiple responses to one occurrence.

ALLISON: Right. Thestorm is the occurrence that’s causing this issue. So I would say a goodadjuster is going to be able to communicate through that and understand thatthis is a secondary result of the same occurrence. But I think, again, it’sreally going to come down to communication.

KAREN: And also thecompany. She has one last question here.


KAREN: Number four.She said, “I heard Allstate was going to file a state of emergency due to thelast storm. How does that affect current claims with the same and differentcompanies?”

ALLISON: That’salso a good question. Thanks, Kristin. [laughs] All of us are bound by stateregulatory boards which say we have to have a certain amount in reserves basedon the number of policies.

If you look at JDPower’s ratings – that’s an independent third party that looks at how satisfiedcustomers are based on certain companies’ claims paying. That’s an importantpiece to reference, because it will give you an idea of how hard people havehad to fight to get their claim paid fairly.

KAREN: If it is a stateof emergency, does that expedite things?

ALLISON: I wouldthink so. I would think that they would bring in everybody they’ve got from theclaims world to come and try to help manage those things quickly.

One of the thingsthat I’m getting a lot of questions on lately is, “Do I get on my roof?” Ithink really, we have to say for safety reasons, we’re not advising people toget on their roofs. We’re really not.

KAREN: Myson-in-law fell off his ladder and hit the ice. Fortunately he’s fine. He’sprobably needing a little ibuprofen or something. But he was trying to get someof the snow away since they have these active leaks and trying to help, but hedid fall off the ladder.

ALLISON: Yeah,exactly. And he’s young. We did a search for snow rakes – Amazon isbackordered. [laughs]

KAREN: I havethree.

ALLISON: Oh, youdo? You may have people calling you to borrow them. [laughs]

But that is whatI’m telling people: if you can get your hands on one, try to take off what youcan reach with that to at least get it away from those gutters and take some ofthat weight off. But maintain your safety first and review your policy, andknow that this is why you have insurance and make sure that it’s correct.

KAREN: Sure. Well,I don’t know what to do anymore. I was gone for a while and I came home, and Ihave maybe three-and-a-half feet of snow. And then of course, my friends cameover and helped by raking off the roof, but now it’s filled with ice chunks. Ohmy goodness, the weight on my deck, what is that going to be? Because some ofthat came off the roof.

ALLISON: Yeah.Again, the weight of snow will be covered.

KAREN: Okay,perfect, because the deck wasn’t in good shape to begin with. [laughs] I’mteasing.

ALLISON: [laughs]You’re so funny. Your insurance, the whole point is to get you back to whereyou were. That’s what it should do.

KAREN: All right.Allison, thank you so much. I know this was a busy day for you, but I felt thatthis was such a current topic, and who can speak to it better than you?Allison, can you tell our listeners how to reach you?

ALLISON: Thanks,Karen. It’s always a pleasure to be here with you. This is Allison Glasier. I’mwith Country Financial here in Bend, and you can reach me and my awesomeassistants at (541) 322-9432. Thank you.

KAREN: Thanks,Allison. Take good care out there. Drive carefully.

ALLISON: You too.

KAREN: We’ll beback after the break.

Hi, welcome back toHouse Talk. This is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties.The first two segments of our show today were great. That was Allison Glasierwith Country Financial, discussing what to do with this snow so that you keepany issue that may come up on your home covered by insurance.

I think the besttakeaway from that is to call your agent, and if you do have an issue, go aheadand find out what you can do to be proactive that won’t harm any potentialclaim.

My next guest wasgoing to be someone from the city of Bend; I thought it’d be interesting tohave them come in and explain the condition of our roads, but they’re not here.Maybe they can’t get here. [laughs] I don’t know. I’ve been out showingproperty, and I am telling you, it’s a mess.

Anyway, we’re notgoing to get the lowdown from the city today. Maybe next week. I thought I’dtalk about something else that’s really current, and that was the very quickpassing of Senate Bill 608, and that is the statewide rent control. That doesaffect all of us, whether you’re a tenant or whether you’re an investor thatowns rental property.

I know that there’sa lot of questions about it. We do have a simple summary of what the new thingsare on Senate Bill 608, and you can find that on our website. It’ You can also call us if you have any questions or concerns, becausethere’s going to be a lot of changes, and it does affect – especially if you’rea real estate investor, I think it’s really pertinent that you know all the insand outs of this bill. You can reach me at (541) 390-3326.

Anyway, Senate Bill608 went into effect last Friday. The governor declared it as a state ofemergency. It went into effect immediately. Some questions that are realestate-based – I’m going to go over some questions that were texted in to meand that are also really relative to the summary that you can find on ourwebsite.

One was, “If I havea transaction that closes after the law goes into effect, can the new ownerevict the tenants?”

That depends.Generally you may only evict for a tenant cause or a qualifying reason fortermination under the circumstances that the law provides. Once you become anowner of a qualifying rental property, you’re now instantly a landlord, andyour conduct is going to be governed by this bill.

So that’s anotherreason that you really need to review Senate Bill 608 and know the ins andouts. The law does allow for specific circumstances, though. If you’repurchasing the property and you’re a new landlord, you can evict a tenant,landlord-based, for reasons including significant renovations, demolitions,safety, or if you as the investor are going to live in one of the units.

Say you bought aduplex and you’re going to live in one; you can therefore evict that tenant.And I’m not saying I’m for evicting tenants by any stretch of the imagination.I’m just looking at this from an investor standpoint and so that you can betterunderstand the ins and outs.

Another questionthat I had from two clients who are out of town – they’re actually flying inand we’re going to meet about this – is, “How does this impact closingtimelines for rental occupied properties where the new owner will occupy theresidence?”

The closing date ofthe real property is not really going to be affected by this bill, but thepossession of the property may be. That’s another thing, so if you want to goto our website and look at that, that might be important to you.

The law caps rentincreases. What it did is it went statewide, and what that did was it took awayany rights of cities or counties to maybe have a different cap. Our cap here inDeschutes County is going to be the same as it’s going to be in Harney County,as it’s going to be the same in Multnomah County.

That’s aninteresting caveat, and I think that’s why some people were against the bill.It was one of the small details that ends up being a really important detail.But anyway, if you’re in Deschutes County you’re going to have the same rentcap that they’re going to have in Multnomah.

Then themonth-to-month tenancies – everything is basically affected. One client textedin and said, “What about month-to-month tenancies?”

For the first 12 months of occupancy, a landlord can terminate the tenancywithout cause with a 30-day notice. After the first 12 months of occupancy, alandlord may only evict a tenant for cause by using an existing tenant-basedreason or by using one of the four landlord-based reasons. Again, anotherreason to review this bill. It’s got a lot of intricacies.

There’s someexceptions to month-to-month tenancies and fixed term tenancies. A fixed term tenancymight not automatically roll over at the end of the fixed term per landlorddiscretion if the tenant has violated the terms of the rental agreement threeseparate times during a 12 month period with written warnings for eachviolation given along with the violation.

I think the bestthing that you can do as a landlord right now is learn this bill, be proactive,and be really following all the ins and outs and the intricacies of this to theletter, because if you don’t it’s going to impact you tremendously.

If you’d like moreinformation, please, again, visit Karen Malanga at RE/MAX. Our website Again, this summary will be on our website and very easy to find.Thank you for listening, and I’ll be back next week.