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While most Americans welcome the spring season with its warmer temperatures and sunnier days, seasoned homeowners know that it can also bring several problems. As the snow melts, the damage of winter weather is often revealed. These are some of the most common spring insurance hazards.

1. Flooding

When a region experiences several big snowstorms with substantial amounts of snow or ice during the winter, spring flooding often ensues as the frozen precipitation melts. As the water runs into rivers and creeks, they may rise beyond their banks. If there are spring showers, the added flood waters can cause major problems for residential areas in flood zones.

It is important for all homeowners to remember the difference between flood damage and water damage. While flood damage is caused by widespread rain or flooding bodies of water, regular water damage comes from broken pipes, roof leaks and similar home-related problems. A home insurance policy covers water damage but not flooding. All homeowners who live in flood zones should purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.

2. Potholes

Salt, sand, ice and traffic create a damaging combination for roads. When spring approaches, it is common to see more potholes in the road. These can ruin tires and damage the wheels on some cars. Drivers who have collision insurance are usually covered for pothole damage. When unsure, ask an agent about what an individual policy covers.

3. Ice Dams

If snow or ice accumulates on the roof and only partially melts, additional snow or rain can cause an ice dam to form. Ice dams often result in water leaking into the home and down the walls, which may ruin the walls. A home insurance policy usually covers the water damage to the walls. However, the insurer will not pay for removal of the ice dam from the roof.

4. Hail Damage

Spring storms are often severe enough to produce hail. These ice balls hit roofs and unprotected vehicles hard enough to cause cracks or dents. Damage to the roof is usually covered under a home insurance policy. If the hail breaks a window and causes rain to leak into the home, the broken window and resulting water damage are both usually covered as well. Auto owners should review their coverage to find out if they are covered for hail damage.

5. Driveway Cracks

Extreme temperature changes and the pressure from snow, ice and vehicles can cause a driveway's surface to crack. Homeowners should check their policies to see if they are covered for cracks. If the damage was caused by a neighbor using sand or salt, the neighbor's insurer is liable.

6. Rust

When spring arrives, vehicle owners should wash their cars at a drive-through carwash that also sprays the undercarriage. This helps remove salt residue that accumulates on the vehicle from the roads. Salt can damage a car and cause rust or worsen existing rust problems. Rust is not typically covered on an auto policy. Fortunately, this is not a common problem with newer vehicles.

7. Damaged Landscape

Heavy snow or ice storms may flatten trees, bushes and landscaping. It is important to remove dead tree branches every spring. This is especially true if they are hanging over the home itself. Rotting mulch and other hazards should be removed. Home insurance policies do not cover snow-damaged trees, bushes or grass.

8. Snow Plows

City snow plows and private snow plows often knock over mailboxes or hit cars on residential properties. Homeowners and vehicle owners who experience such problems must first contact their city to see how to file a claim if a city snow plow was to blame. If a neighbor was operating a private snow plow, the claim must be filed with the neighbor's insurer. If the culprit is unknown, contact an agent to learn how to proceed.

Make a habit of watching for these hazards as temperatures start to rise and snow piles start to diminish. It is important to address issues immediately and take preventative measures. To learn more about preparing for hazards and updating insurance, discuss concerns with an agent.

Posted 7:00 AM  View Comments

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