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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Chimney Damage?

By John Miceli

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A chimney funnels the gases from fireplaces, wood stoves, or other heat-burning appliances out of your home. They’re more common in older houses since newer construction has more efficient heating and insulation methods that eliminate the need for an open-source fire inside your home.

Aesthetically, though, a chimney can add an extra something to your home’s appearance from the outside. That’s why it would be such a shame if something happened to your chimney. That and the likely mess and potential damage to other parts of your home that can occur if your chimney does get damaged.

So, will your homeowners insurance cover a damaged chimney? Let’s find out.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Chimney Damage?

Yes, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover damage to your chimney as long as the damage was caused by a covered peril. A major section of homeowners insurance is dwelling coverage. This financially protects the structure of your home. Your roof, windows, walls, porches and floor fall under this area of coverage.

The most common form of homeowners insurance is an HO3 policy, which safeguards your property and belongings from a list of covered perils. There are over a dozen named perils, but the ones that your chimney is likely to incur damage from are lightning strikes, fire damage, falling objects (like trees), and wind damage. Your insurance should cover any of these, although protection against strong winds, like from hurricanes or tornadoes, may vary depending on where you live.

What your homeowners insurance won’t cover is chimney damage caused by regular wear and tear over time, or damage from you neglecting maintenance. Generally, the damage has to be sudden or accidental to be covered by insurance. So, if your chimney finally crumbles one day because you haven’t updated it in decades, or seasonal freezing and thawing of water around your chimney causes part of it to break over time, your insurer may not cover you.

Although chimney fires may be the result of some neglect of keeping your chimney clean, your insurer will still likely cover chimney fire damage since it’s sudden (unless your neglect is extremely apparent). Chimney fires can happen without warning and without any clear prior wrongdoing, too.

Providers won’t cover you if your chimney gets wrecked by a flood, either. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage from flooding; you’d need a separate flood insurance policy.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Chimney Repair?

Your homeowners insurance will pay for the repair of your chimney, or replacement of a whole new chimney if needed, in addition to the cleanup and removal of involved debris, as long as your chimney got damaged by a covered peril.

This rebuild or repair includes all parts of your chimney like the flue pipe, cap, crown, liner and more, if necessary. If part of your fireplace inside your house got affected, this would be covered, too.

Your homeowners insurance technically doesn’t cover improvements made to your chimney, but if it’s more cost-efficient to rebuild it by upgrading or modernizing it in some way, that’s likely what the insurance company will do.

Your provider won’t cover expected chimney maintenance and upkeep, though. It’s recommended you get your chimney cleaned at least once annually to keep it in proper condition. Your insurer won’t cover this cleaning.

It’s considered regular maintenance that’s your responsibility as a homeowner, not your insurer’s responsibility. Plus, you probably wouldn’t want to file for a relatively small expense like that, anyways.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Chimney Leaks?

Like other chimney damage, a leak could be covered if it was created by a covered peril. But, if the leak is a result of minor damage accumulating over time, your homeowners insurance likely won’t cover it.

For example, a lightning strike can destroy the cap or crown of your chimney and can cause water to start leaking in through the uncovered opening at the top. If you notice this damage promptly and call your insurer, you should be covered. But, if you don’t notice, or you let it sit like that for months, and then call when the water starts causing a problem, you probably won’t be covered. The insurer will claim neglect on your part.

Similarly, if a leak was caused by water coming through cracked bricks over time or some hole in your flashing, you may not receive coverage since the damage wasn’t sudden or accidental. This is why it’s important to get regular inspections and cleanings of your chimney, so small issues like this can be noticed and rectified before they cause a bigger issue.

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