Which Insurance Coverage Covers Condo Ice Dam Damage?

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W.M. from Tolland County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My daughter lives in a condo and she has leaking in her living room from an ice dam on the roof. The wall and ceiling above the sliding door are soaked. She recently received a letter from the condo management company saying they would not do regular snow removal but would take care of individual problems. She called the management company and they are giving her a hard time saying “there is nothing much we can do, but we will try to send someone to remove the ice”. They also told her to contact her insurance company. Isn’t the condo insurance primary in this case as the problem started on the roof?

Mister Condo replies:

W.M., I am sorry for your daughter’s ice dam and resulting water damage. This has been a long, drawn out winter and there have been plenty of water intrusion events caused by ice dams throughout the Northeast. There may not be too much the management company can do about the ice dams unless they are directed to do so by the condominium’s Board of Directors who directs the work and agrees to pay for the ice dam removal. The insurance claim is another story.

Damage resulting from ice dams may or may not be a covered loss under the association’s insurance policy. As you can imagine, anything that happens on the roof is the responsibility of the association, and, theoretically, covered by the association’s master policy. However, that doesn’t mean that damage to the interior of the unit is covered. In fact, the homeowner’s insurance policy (HO-6, here in Connecticut) may be the correct policy for handling claim to the interior of the unit. The Master Policy may cover damage to the roof or exterior walls. Furniture, flooring, and belongings may be covered by the HO-6. There is also the issue of the deductible and who is responsible for that cost.

I have seen numerous outcomes from these insurance complexities. The good news is that your daughter is likely covered. The challenge may lie in exactly which insurance will cover the loss and who will be responsible for the deductible. If your daughter isn’t happy with the outcome from the insurance settlement, she may wish to hire an attorney or a loss mitigation firm to review the claim and settlement. If it is any comfort, she won’t be alone. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of condo residents in the Northeast who will be facing the same struggle. All the best!

2 thoughts on “Which Insurance Coverage Covers Condo Ice Dam Damage?

  1. Due to damage caused by ice dams, our insurance increased substantially plue the carrier required a $15,000 deductible per unit. The association says the unit owners have to cover this potential loss. It is the exterior of the buildings involved and that is the associations responsibility. Why do unit owners have to pay deductibles on the association’s problem

    1. R.S., ice dams have become a major headache for condo owners in colder climates in the snow and ice season. The association’s insurance is in place to protect the association. Unit owners should (and are usually required to) protect themselves with homeowners insurance. This combination keeps the liability to a minimum and out of pocket expenses low for both unit owners and the association. What often happens in ice dam claims is the association’s insurance pays to fix the damage to the building exterior (as covered by the policy) and unit owners place a claim against their homeowners policy for any damage done to their unit’s interior. However, there are times when the homeowners insurance pushes back and refuses to pay because they claim the fault lies with the association. This is when the lawsuits generally begin and the unit owners can be left footing the bill for interior unit repair until the lawsuits are settled. It is unfortunate that this is how it is handled but until they figure out a way to prevent ice dams in ice dam-prone buildings, it will likely continue. Good luck!

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