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Purchasing insurance for winter damage

A barn, five tons of hay and an old classic truck – those are all things an Inkom man lost when his barn roof collapsed because of heavy snow.

The man claims his insurance policy won’t cover the cost so he’s paying $50,000 out-of-pocket to fix the collapse.

The man claims he was told it included damage but wasn’t told that the damage covered specifically was only fire-caused.

So was it an issue of miscommunication when purchasing insurance? That’s we wanted to find out. So we looked into what people need to know when buying homeowners insurance to hopefully avoid a similar situation.

Jared Nelson, an insurance agent with Farm Bureau, said there are a couple of keys points people want to make sure they have when setting up their insurance policy.

“Basically, it’s going to be your perils 12 and 13 on most policies,” Nelson said. “There’s policies that have 19 perils, 27 perils – you at least want to make sure that you get that 12 and 13 in there. Most policies are going to have that peril within them.”

Nelson said that the best thing to do is sit down with your agent and have a thorough conversation. Make sure you understand the policy, and that everything you would expect to be covered is indeed listed in the policy.

Nelson said sometimes the policy can depend on other factors, like the age and condition of the home as well.

Nelson said with the winter weather, the insurance companies will likely be facing the issue of flood damage.

So what about insurance for flooding?

“We do cover water damage for a home, but the water damage has to be internal from the home, like a broken pipe,” Nelson said. “Water coming from the outside of the home in, typically isn’t going to be covered. Cracks and foundations – it’s not going to cover that.”

Nelson said people would have to get separate flooding insurance for external damage. He said sometimes when getting a loan from a bank, if people live in a flood zone, the bank may even require it. But he said the wait period to get the insurance through could take some time. Those are all things for people to consider.

Nelson also said in the case of things like collapsed barns or sheds, everything of value in the shed would need to be insured as well. So cars, ATVs, etc would all need to have their own insurance as well to be covered in this type of damage.

Nelson said one of the best things people can do in general is try and keep their roofs clear and keep the weight of the snow off of it. He said there are companies that can help with that if people are unable to do it themselves. He said they also see a lot of problems from gutters not being properly cleaned out and the weight of that causes damage.

He said if snow or flooding damage occurs, but it isn’t in a person’s specific policy, unfortunately there’s not much the insurance company can do.

Nelson also said for the Pocatello/Chubbuck area, the company hasn’t seen a lot of snow damage or flooding claims yet. He said most of the claims have been from the Boise offices.

He said since every policy can be a little bit different, that’s why it’s so important to sit down and talk with a local insurance agent.

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