Tips to Fix Winter Storm Damage to Your Home

Read your insurance policy -- you might be surprised by what's covered.

ByABC News
February 26, 2015, 10:49 AM

— -- Across the U.S., homeowners like Jennifer Eller are facing a costly nightmare after weeks and weeks of brutal cold and snow.

Eller said that the weight of multiple feet of snow had caused the roof of her garage to collapse, just as she was inside it, starting her car.

"It just dropped down. ... Then bang! Just this loud bang! And you could feel the whole car move," Eller of Pepperell, Massachusetts, told WCVB-TV. "I physically ducked, thinking I could be squished here flat. And then it was over."

Her husband, Charles Eller, said he started to call 911 but wanted to make sure Jennifer was OK first.

"I was like, 'Get me out of here! What are you waiting for?'" she said.

Jennifer Eller escaped uninjured but now the couple are feeling a different kind of pain, one in their pocket.

Like hundreds of thousands of homeowners, they are facing a costly cleanup. A roof repair alone can run $25,000.

Some insurers in snow-covered Boston, Massachusetts, are reporting nine times the typical amount of claims. The typical family could face as much as $100,000 in damage.

The good news: Most winter storm damage is covered by standard homeowners insurance.

ABC News' "Real Money" team reached out to the Insurance Information Institute to find out how homeowners can maximize their insurance benefits and minimize the time they spend waiting for answers.

Here are some additional tips:

1. Take pictures of the damage immediately. If you have "before" pictures, that's even better. Those pictures will help ensure that your insurer cannot claim that the problem was preexisting.

2. Make temporary repairs to keep the damage from getting worse but hold on to all of your receipts.

3. Don't make pricey repairs before the insurance adjuster arrives.

4. Don't assume something is not covered. Take out your policy. Most weather-related damage like burst pipes, a collapsed roof and ice dams are covered.