Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

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  • Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Maybe you start to notice a few spots on your ceiling or feel the water droplets coming from inside the house. Considering how important it is to have a roof over your head, no one will judge you for freaking out when you realize that roof might have some serious structural damage. 

As one of the most expensive components of your home to repair or replace, it’s perfectly normal to wonder if your homeowners insurance covers roof leaks.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t exactly cut and dry. Let’s take a closer look at the elements of your leaking roof that may be covered and when it’s time to consider filing a roof leak insurance claim.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks? 

Your homeowners insurance coverage will only supplement the cost of repairing a leaking roof when the damage is a result of a peril or circumstance identified by your policy that happened suddenly and unexpectedly. If the damage to your roof is caused by traditional wear and tear, it’s unlikely that your insurance will pay for the cost of repairing or replacing it.

A 20- or 30-year-old roof is more likely to have issues than a new roof, depending on its material. Asphalt shingles or wood shakes don’t last forever, so the problems that come with these over time likely won’t be covered. Replacing an old roof is part of maintaining a structurally sound home and isn’t your insurer’s responsibility — and it could even have a drastic impact on how much you pay for premiums.

Also, if negligence caused a leak in your roof, your provider won’t cover you. For instance, if your roof flashing was incorrectly installed years ago and water has been slowly leaking in for months, your carrier likely won’t cover the damage. They’ll believe you should have noticed the issue sooner if you were performing expected roof maintenance or upkeep

Or, if a leak resulted from water spilling onto your roof after you allowed your gutters to be clogged with leaves and debris, your home insurance won’t cover you. This would be considered negligence, too.

Homeowners insurance roof leaks can be hit or miss. Instead, here are some of the most common perils covered by standard homeowners insurance policies that could affect your roof.

  • Hail and windstorms (like hurricanes and tornadoes)
  • Lightning
  • Fire or smoke (including fire from wildfires
  • A volcanic eruption
  • Excessive weight due to snow or sleet 
  • Falling objects, including damage from an aircraft or other vehicle 
  • Sudden damage caused by bursting pipes or an electrical surge 

For example, if lightning struck a nearby tree and caused it to fall through your roof, causing a sudden leak, you’d likely be covered. Or, if a tornado blasted debris into your roof that caused a leak, your insurer would likely reimburse you. Also, leaks caused by ice dams may be covered, as long as you couldn’t have reasonably prevented the damage.

If you suspect damage after a windstorm or another covered peril, it’s important to check right away. The sooner you file a claim for a leaking roof, the more likely your house insurance is to cover you.

For instance, you may discover water damage in your roof a year after a mighty storm. Even if you suspect the storm caused it, your carrier may not cover you. This is because the initial damage after the severe weather likely expanded gradually over time.

Your insurer likely believes that, had you been performing expected maintenance or upkeep on your home, you could’ve found the leak more quickly and mitigated the damage, negating the need to file a claim in the first place.

When Will Insurance Cover a Leaking Roof?

If you believe the original cause of your leaking roof has been caused by a peril included in your homeowners insurance policy, it’s appropriate to file a claim

Understanding the fine print of your home insurance policy, like your limits and coverages, is crucial to understanding what happens if your roof ever starts to leak. You might think a leaking roof is covered by your insurance outright, but the terms of your policy are very specific, and you’ll have exact conditions under which different perils are classified as covered. 

It’s important to recognize the deductible you’ll be required to pay, too. If your deductible amount is $500 or $1,000 (or more), and the anticipated damage is at or around this number, you may want to consider pricing a repair job independently to determine if filing a claim is a good decision. 

If, after you pay your deductible, your insurer will only reimburse you a few hundred dollars for the damage, you may just want to pay for the repairs yourself. Filing claims can raise your rates, and if you’re not going to receive a substantial payout for damage from your provider, the rate increase you experience after your successful claim may not be worth it.

Similarly, these are common causes of roof damage that aren’t covered by most homeowners insurance policies:

  • Typical wear and tear
  • Negligence 
  • Flooding 
  • Mold or fungus 
  • An infestation of animals or bugs 
  • Any damage caused by your pets
  • Damaged caused by a shift in your home’s foundation
  • Smog or corrosion

If you’re unsure whether your insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged roof, your insurance agent will be able to walk you through the different components of your homeowners coverage if you file a claim.

But, it’s best to understand your policy when you get it, so you know when you should file a claim or not. If you’re ever unclear about something in your policy, be sure to ask your insurance provider. It doesn’t hurt to get an estimate on the damage before you call, either.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.