The most important -- and often toughest -- part of anadjuster's job is determining coverage. Each month, Claimspublishes a coverage question asked by an insurance professional,along with an answer provided by the dedicated editorial staff ofFC&S Online (which, like Claims, is a division of the NationalUnderwriter Company). With winter upon us, let's take a look atcoverage question concerning snow buildup.

QUESTION: We have a policyholder with water damage under a Form3. Considerable snow built up on his roof and he pulled it downwith a rake and it piled up against his wall. Water melted from thesnow pile and came in through his siding, damaging a side wall andthe floor sheathing. The company raises questions of the waterpossibly being surface water and there is more than one incident ofmelting, with each day having a thawing and freezing cycle. It isthought that possibly snow that came off the roof would add to thestack, leaving the possibility of several occurrences. They alsoraised the possibility of lack of coverage by neglect in notremoving the snow against the house, realizing that damage mightoccur. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER: The benefit of the doubt must go to the insured andprovide coverage for the loss. For a start, surface water isusually defined as water from rain or melting snow that meandersover the ground in no set pattern. But here, the water from themelting snow did not meander; rather, it entered the insured'sdwelling from a pile of snow that melted, froze, and melted again.It would have been similar to the snow remaining on the roof andmelting and being forced up under shingles and into thedwelling.

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