Roof leaks can cause extensive damage to your house. Besides causing damage to the interior of the house such as the walls, flooring, furniture, and appliances, the formation of mold and mildew can lead to long-term maintenance and repair expenses.
To protect yourself from financial loss due to roof leak-related damages, you must know whether your homeowners insurance policy covers roof leakages.
Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?
A standard homeowners policy may cover roof leaks but only those that are sudden and accidental. If the leakage is due to age, wear and tear, or lack of maintenance, it will not be covered by your policy.
The cause of the roof leak is a major factor that determines whether it will be covered by your homeowners insurance. Typically, only unexpected or accidental damage to the roof by a covered peril that causes a roof leak is covered by the policy.
The roof of the house is covered under the dwelling coverage of your homeowners insurance policy which includes coverage on an open-peril basis. It means that unless the peril is specifically excluded it will be included.
Your insurance provider may compensate for your loss if the roof leak is caused by:
- High winds or storms causing shingles to blow off or the falling of a tree on the roof
However, there are certain instances that will not be covered by your policy:
- Wear and tear
- Deliberate lack of maintenance
- Earthquakes, landslides, and other ground movements
- Pest infestation
- Theft and vandalism if the property is under construction or vacant
- Pet damage
Is Roof Replacement Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
The age of your roof and the type of home insurance coverage will determine if your home insurance will pay for your roof replacement.
In the majority of cases, roof leaks need minor repair work. However, if the roof is severely damaged leading to extensive leakage, it may need replacement. How much of the replacement cost for a new roof will be covered by your insurer will depend on the type of coverage you have and also on the age of the roof.
For the replacement of an item including the roof covered in your homeowners insurance, there are two types of coverages:
- Actual cash value: Your insurer will deduct the depreciation in its value over the years (roof’s age) from your payout
- Replacement cost value: You will be compensated with the full value of the new roof that you buy
When Must You File a Claim for Roof Damage?
There are a few factors that you must consider before you decide to file a claim for roof damage:
- You must be sure that the leak is not due to wear and tear or maintenance issues. If the cause is accidental, your claim may be accepted by your insurance provider.
- If the roof leak is caused by an excluded peril, it will not be covered by your policy
- If the roof is old and needs replacement, your claim may be denied
- Once you file a claim, you need to pay a deductible before your policy gets activated. If the roof repair cost is less than the deductible, it is recommended that you do not file a claim as you will be receiving a minimal amount or nothing for the damage costs.
Filing a claim increases your premium rates even if you do not receive a payout. You must ask for quotes from multiple roofers to get an estimate of your roof repair costs. If the estimated cost is a sizeable amount that is much higher than your deductible, you may file a damage claim.
Steps to Follow to File a Claim for Roof Damage
You must follow the steps mentioned below at the time of filing a claim for roof replacement:
- Inform your insurer immediately about the damage
- Maintain relevant documents of the damaged roof and the other damages caused due to roof leak
- Hire a reputed contractor to do the repair and replacement work
How to Find a Roof Leak?
Identifying the source of the leak in your roof quickly is important. It not only limits the property damage but also increases your chance of getting it covered by your homeowners policy.
- Find the source – If you observe dampness or mold on the walls or decaying wood, you must look for its source nearby. It may be a crack in the chimney or vent pipes, missing gutters, or missing shingles.
- Repair promptly – To stop further damage, immediate repair of the roof is needed. While minor repairs can be done at home by you, for others, hiring a professional team helps.For documentation purposes that will be needed if you file a claim, you must have proof of the damage before the repair work.
- Check the roof regularly – Check the roof for cracks and other damages regularly. Prompt repair or replacement work may save you from higher expenses. Besides the roof, you must check the chimney, top-floor ceiling, vents, and flashing for leaks.
How Can You Prevent Roof Leaks?
- Ensure that the roof, gutters, and downspouts are free of debris
- Trim trees or bushes near the house to prevent falling leaves on the roof and also moss formation
- Check the attic for dampness in the walls or rusted pipes.
- Get an annual maintenance plan for the roof