Ice Dam(n) Aftermath

Patrick is a licensed insurance agent at Dolan and Maloney Insurance in Westborough, Massachusetts. This winter, hundreds of families struggled through the difficulties of ice dams. Although the bitter winter is over, for many families, the battles against ice dams continues. Here are some tips from a pro. 

Does it matter who I use as a contractor? What should I do with the quote- does the insurance company need anything in writing from him?

Once you compare the cost to repair with your deductible by having yet another conversation with your agent, you should submit the claim if you feel this warrants such action.  A good rule of thumb is 1.5 times your deductible before a claim.

Should I hire someone to do this work or pay someone? Will the insurance company pay me for doing the work?

If you must throw things away take as many pictures as you feel will help capture the damage and the progress.  Contact a contractor to determine what it will cost to repair and obtain an idea about what is actually savable.

Things to know about the claims process;

  • The first dollar amount quoted by an adjuster is just to let you start repairs and 9 times out of 10 will not be enough to complete the repairs.
  • Many times, the contractor will find hidden damage that could not be quantified in the original assessment resulting in what is called a supplemental claim. (This is not actually a new claim, think of it more like going back to the ATM and asking for more money.)
  • Something that catches a lot of people off guard is called the “hold back”.  If a claim total is $10,000 for example and you as the homeowner have a $1000 deductible, the insurance company may send you only $8000 which if you do not know that is going to happen will upset you due to confusion.  Do not panic, this is the “hold back” which is designed to ensure you, the homeowner, make the repairs.  If you choose to take the money and run, which is your right, the insurance company, by the contract you signed, is not required to pay the entire claim based on the principle of indemnity.  An insurance policy is in place to indemnify you or make you whole so when the repairs are completed you simply submit the final paid receipt for the work completed then the company will reimburse you for the out of pocket cost.

The true *unwritten* final step in the entire claims process is to take steps to prevent this from happening again.  Using ice dams as an example, you may have coils professionally installed on your roof, or have Mass Save come in to do an energy assessment to help keep your attic as cold as possible.  The more steps you take to keep a claim from happening in the future, the better you will look to an underwriter (translation- big insurance company guy) who is deciding to either drop or keep you as an insured.  Your best friend in this situation is an insurance agent (like Patrick!) who advocates for you.


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