What you need to know: Insuring your buildings in case snow brings your roof down

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
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ARGUSVILLE, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The barn that’s stood tall since the mid 70′s in rural Argusville came crumbling down earlier this week as it was no longer able to hold the heavy snow and ice Mother Nature has piled on this winter. The collapse left behind a big mess for Nate Ekstrom and his wife Jayne Krabbenhoft to clean up.

“We’ll be able to save most of it but it’s going to take work,” Ekstrom said. Inside the building were several grain trucks, personal vehicles and horse trailers that still need to be assessed for damage once the fallen roof is cleaned up.

This winter has been more challenging than years prior. The couple says it’s been difficult to find workers to clean the roofs of the more than 10 buildings they have on their properties.

“The wind hasn’t stopped and I think that’s why we have more of this snow on our roofs because the wind’s been blowing,” Ekstrom said.

As if the collapse wasn’t bad enough news, the couple says they’ve since learned all of their buildings are too old to be covered by insurance when it comes to a collapse from snow and ice. That means the $200,000 bill to replace this building will have to be out of pocket.

“This is just heartbreaking to deal with,” Krabbenhoft said.

Farmer’s Union in West Fargo doesn’t represent the couple, but agent Justin Heisler says that type of policy is the norm for most insurance companies as after 25 years, the integrity of a building starts to deteriorate.

“The stuff inside that building, as long as that’s insured, that’s still covered. It’s just not covering the roof,” Heisler explained.

Heisler says there are insurance agencies that will cover buildings older than 25 years for snow and ice collapse policies, but he says those premiums are expensive.

“This is not a normal year. If this was every year where snow was heavy like this, everyone would pay every premium to get their roofs covered!” he said.

Ekstrom and Krabbenhoft say they hope sharing their story prompts others in the Valley to not only clean your roofs off, but to give your insurance agent a call to check on your policy. Heisler says he couldn’t agree more.

“Make sure you really know what you’re paying for. At the end of the day, it’s the difference between receiving a check for $15,000 and receiving a check for nothing. You need to make sure that you have that coverage on there so you’re not surprised if something were to happen,” Heisler said.