Filed Under:Agent Broker, Coverage Issues

Did snow, ice or water cause the damage?

Coverage Q&A

Determining if snow, water or the resulting ice caused a boat pier to collapse means understanding the difference between types of precipitation. (Photo: iStock)
Determining if snow, water or the resulting ice caused a boat pier to collapse means understanding the difference between types of precipitation. (Photo: iStock)

Question: My insured is covered by an HO3 10/00. At the rear of his home he has a large boat dock complete with a boat lift and metal canopy. My reading of the form would indicate that this dock would not be insured for damage (collapse) caused by weight of ice or water, but would be covered for weight of snow. At first I thought snow might be considered "ice."

However, snow is omitted from the limitations to docks under the collapse peril, even though it is listed separately as a covered peril under Coverage C perils insured against. Do you agree?

-Ohio Subscriber

Answer: Snow and ice, while both consisting of water, are two different things. By definition, according to Merriam Webster, "snow" is "precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals formed directly from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32°F (0°C), while ice is frozen water, or a substance resembling ice; especially: the solid state of a substance usually found as a gas or liquid."

The physical structures are different as is the formation. Weight of ice, snow or sleet is a coverage C named peril. The restriction for docks under collapse does not include b.(1), the coverage C perils. The freezing, thawing or pressure of water or ice exclusion does not apply to snow. If the dock is damaged by snow that fits the parameters of the collapse coverage, there is coverage.

Related: 5 best practices for valuing water-damaged items

Analysis brought to you by the experts at FC&S Online, the unquestioned authority on insurance coverage interpretation and analysis for the P&C industry. To find out more—or to have YOUR coverage question answered—visit www.nationalunderwriter.com/FCS

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