Is Ice Storm Damage Covered by Maine Homeowners Insurance?

Northern New England was clobbered by an ice storm December 12 that closed schools and businesses (including ours) and knocked out power for over 200,000 Mainers. It brought back memories of Ice Storm ’98, the effects of which are still evident in Maine’s woods and the psyches of its residents.


Like the ’98 storm, this one left many people without electricity for several days – some are still without power 3 days later. Fortunately, this storm wasn’t followed by the bitter cold of a decade ago, which seems to have spared many from the misery of frozen pipes. Nevertheless, our office has been busy fielding insurance claims and stories of misfortune.


Here are some of the most common situations we’ve seen, and how most insurance policies respond. Of course, this is general information and NOT to be taken to indicate coverage (or lack of coverage) for any individual. To find out if you have coverage, refer to your own insurance policy, agent and company. Also, remember that your property deductible (often $500 or $1,000) applies.


Icy berries2
  • Tree falling on your house. Most homeowners policies pay the cost to remove a tree that damages a covered structure (including sheds, etc.), and the cost to repair the damage itself.
  • Tree falling on your car.  Your home policy doesn’t cover this – but your auto policy might. The key is whether you have “comprehensive” (your policy probably calls it “other than collision”) coverage on the vehicle. If so, do a happy dance.
  • Water in your basement. We’re talking about water backing up through a sump hole, usually because the sump pump stopped working when the power died. This one’s far less certain. Homeowners policies don’t cover this unless you buy extra coverage. Companies call the endorsements by different names, but if you’ve bought it, you’ll probably see something like “Water Backup” or “Backup of Sewers and Drains”. We’ve regularly recommended this coverage through newsletters, mailings and blog posts.
  •   Frozen Pipes. The water damage from frozen pipes is covered by most homeowners policies. The cost to repair the pipes themselves is not.
  • Food Spoilage. This usually is covered only if you bought a special endorsement (it’s often packaged with water backup coverage). Even with the extra coverage, it’s usually limited to $500 or so.
  • Cost to rent or buy a generator. Sorry, this one’s not generally covered. Even though you’re getting the generator to keep you from having one of the other claims listed above, it’s considered to be preventative (like having a smoke detector or fire extinguisher to prevent fire claims).

These are just a few scenarios we’ve seen since Friday’s storm. If you have questions about your individual insurance, refer to your policy or consult your agent (preferably, both). In a future post, we’ll talk about how to prepare for some of these disasters, and what action you should take if it happens to you.