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When preparing for a snow storm, don't forget to check your home insurance

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Winter storm damage to your home is typically covered by insurance, if you have it. But your damage claim could hit a snag if your insurance company decides you dropped the ball on home maintenance.

Even with a great homeowners policy, insurance companies expect you to do all you can to prevent problems. Clearing the walkways for example. The Northwest Insurance Council says it's also good to make sure your gutters aren't clogged.

"After several days of freezing weather if you've had any water build up in a rain gutter, and it's frozen into ice solid, when it thaws out again it may have caused some separation in the wood near your gutters," explained NWIC President Kenton Brine.

They're known as ice dams. When gutters are improperly cleaned, frozen water can back up and leak into the house resulting in damage to interior walls, ceilings and insulation. The maintenance neglect that cause the back up could affect your insurance claim.

"So it's a good idea to have a look around and see if you see any evidence of ice dams forming in your rain gutters," Brine said.

And do what you can to prevent pipes in your home from bursting, although in most cases damage related to burst pipes inside your home should be covered by insurance. Damage from burst pipes outside, especially pipes from the street, might be a different story.

"If water comes in from outside, whether it's from rain, snow and ice, or from a water line bursting outside your house, that may not be covered by your homeowners policy. It's a good idea to check with your agent to make sure you know what's covered," urged Brine.

Insurance companies say you also might not be covered for damage if there were already known leaks around your home's windows or roof flashing.

And if you've recently added living space or structural upgrades, make sure your insurance company knows about it so you have adequate protection for any storm-related repairs.

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