Sticking Snow in Unlikely Places Raises Insurance Questions

Posted February 3rd, 2010
by Staff (no comments)

shovelsnowAs this article is being written, about 70% of the United States has snow cover. As you’d expect, this includes the usual suspects like Montana, Illinois, Ohio and Maine. But how about snow covering parts of Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas? Little Rock, Arkansas recently had two inches of snow, essentially paralyzing the city.

Now, in many of these places the snow doesn’t stick around too long—maybe 24 hours—before it melts. However, this winter, snow is sticking around longer than usual. How does this impact our homes?

To Shovel or not to Shovel

When snow sticks, what do homeowners do? Well, they can wait for the snow to melt. However, many municipalities actually have regulations that the snow be removed within a certain time frame. For example, in New York City the law reads in part:

Removal of snow, ice and dirt from sidewalks; property

owners’ duties. a. Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other

person,  having  charge  of  any  building or lot of ground in the city,

abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four

hours after the snow ceases to fall…remove the  snow or ice, dirt, or

other material from the sidewalk and gutter…

This means that the snow must be shoveled within four hours.  In fact, violators risk a $10 to $150 fine or ten days imprisonment or both.

So shovel or otherwise clear the walkways around your home when it snows.

Homeowners Insurance

What happens if someone takes a slip and falls in the walkways or driveways around your home whether you cleared the snow or not? Are you liable?

The short answer is yes. If you’re responsible for removing the snow, you’re liable.  The good news is that most homeowner’s insurance policies cover accidents. So, they’ll pay up to the liability limit on your policy.

Photo via *clairity*

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