Policies are written to replace damaged materials “in kind”. That means that there would not be an improvement to the construction methods or materials even if it would prevent reoccurrence of the insurance loss.
As an example, imagine that your claim is water damage due to ice dams at the gutters. The actual interior plaster damage would be corrected. The roof and gutter condition that allowed the leak would not be corrected as a part of the claim.
Mold is often the result of winter leak issues. Many homeowner’s insurance policies have exclusions or limits on mold claims. In other instances, the mold is not discovered until the insurance claim repairs are completed.
Most insurance policies that have limitations on mold will still cover mold “consequential to a covered claim”. What that means to the homeowner is that if a leak occurs, the leak should be reported. If those repairs are covered, and mold occurs as a result of the leak, the mold would be covered.
On the other hand, if you have a leak, but do not report it because the repair costs less to fix than the deductible and mold does occur, you will not be covered for the expensive mold cleanup.
What’s Next When Winter Damage Occurs?
The first responsibility you have under your homeowner’s insurance policy is to do everything reasonable to limit the damage. If there is a broken pipe leaking through the wall, turn off the water at the main valve. If water has leaked across a floor, clean the water up. If sewage is backing up from the floor, don’t flush the commode.
Take any needed action to prevent injury to others. If a barrier needs set up, put it in place. If lighting or warning notes need placed, do so.
The loss needs reported as soon as possible. Disaster recovery contractors need access to stabilize conditions and dry out the home to reduce the chance of mold.
Homeowners should document conditions for handling the claim. Take photographs of all conditions and repairs. Document phone conversations. Include times and subjects discussed and arrangements that are made.
The bottom line is that homeowners should do everything possible to avoid winter damage. If you have a winter weather problem, fix the conditions that allowed it to occur.