The question of whether homeowners insurance covers roof leaks or not is dependent on many factors.
Your homeowners insurance coverage generally covers roof leaks if the cause on the policy doesn’t expressly exclude the cause of the leak. For example, if the leak occurs because of maintenance or wear and tear issues, you may need to pay for the repairs yourself. This means you have to check and understand if your policy excludes some damages that lead to roof leakage.
So, in this post, you’ll learn whether or not your homeowners insurance covers roof leaks, when it covers it, and what causes of damage are excluded.
Let’s dive in right away!
Which Perils Do Homeowners Insurance Cover?
When buying a homeowners policy, your goal is to get coverage against various types of home damage, theft or vandalism, etc. You need to know what perils the homeowners policy you’re buying covers to guide your purchasing decision. This can also help you avoid costly surprises.
Covered perils are instances of damage or situations in which you’re eligible to file an insurance claim. Your policy will list all the covered perils depending on the policy you purchase.
Some of the perils that homeowners insurance provides coverage include:
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Fire, smoke, and Lightning
- Weight of ice, sleet, or snow
- Damage caused by vehicles and falling objects
- Frozen pipes
- Accidental water overflow or discharge
- Hail and windstorms
- Steam discharge from heating, household appliances, plumbing, air conditioners, or sprinkler systems
As you may notice in this list of covered perils, roof leaks are not explicitly mentioned. Many homeowners insurance policies do not specially name roof looks among the coveted perils.
As a general rule, homeowners policies have an “open perils” rule. The perils under this rule include any damage resulting from a sudden and an accidental incident unless the policy specifically excludes the cause of that damage.
This leaves the question, when is roof leaks covered under homeowners insurance.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for roof leaks but only under a named peril.
So, whether or not your policy carrier will reimburse you for your roof leak repair — and any subsequent damage — depends on the cause of the leak. Usually, most of the perils that might damage your roof are covered, such as:
- Windstorm or hail
- Lightning damage
- Roof vandalism or malicious mischief
- Falling trees
- Other falling objects
- Steam discharge from heating or household appliances etc
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
For example, if a tree falls on your roof because of a thunderstorm and rain water gets in through the crack caused by the tree, your homeowners coverage may consider reimbursing you for the repairs. This claim can be considered because homeowners insurance provides coverage for lightning, wind and hail damage, and other water-related damages.
However, the insurance provider has to ascertain that the damages caused the roof damage, resulting in roof leakages. The insurer will also ascertain that the damage was sudden and accidental before refunding the claim.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Fail To Cover Roof Leaks?
Homeowners insurance often names the perils that are excluded from coverage as named exclusions. The commonly named exclusions that might cause a roof leak are:
- Roof neglect or poor maintenance
- Wear, tear, and deterioration
- Mold, fungus, or wet rot
- Birds, rodents, vermin, and insects
- Settling, shrinking, expanding, or bulging
Note: Your homeowners policy might have other exclusions we’ve not listed here.
If any of these conditions above causes the roof leak your claim won’t be covered.
Here is the logic. Your home insurance policy isn’t a maintenance policy. So, if the cause of the leakage is related to maintenance that you are responsible for, your policy can’t provide coverage. Also, the damage has to be sudden and/or accidental to qualify for coverage.
In addition, most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, sewage backup, or gradual leaks.
You will find an explanation of the perils that the policy covers and those it excludes on the policy’s declaration page. Since most perils that can cause roof leaks are often named, you should focus on the excluded perils to understand what damages the insurer might not provide coverage.
Roof Leak Coverage and Insurance Deductibles
When you’re shopping for homeowners insurance, It’s important to talk about deductibles. Most homeowners insurance policies require you to pay a deductible before it pays for your repair and the cost of damage to the roof up to your coverage limit.
You need to read your policy and learn about your deductible and coverage limits. If you do not understand these concepts, you can contact your insurance agent for help to find a policy that meets your needs.
Deductibles in homeowners insurance are different when it comes to roof leaks. Many insurers insert up to three deductibles in homeowners insurance, each applying in different situations.
Here is a breakdown of these deductibles:
- A standard insurance deductible, which applies for all perils, as per their occurrence
- Wind and hail deductible, which many policies rate higher than the standard deductible. This deductible only applies to claims on wind or hail-related damage
- Storm deductible for homeowners near a coastline applies if the damage is caused by a named storm, such as a tropical storm or hurricane.
Insurers often calculate every deductible as a percentage of the home’s value, and they will want you to commit the deductible before offering your policy
What Steps Should You Take If You Have A Roof Leak?
If you suspect that you have a leaking roof in your home, you need to act quickly. You can do the following for your safety and the safety or your property:
- Contact your insurance company and notify them of the roof leak. They will send an agent to guide you through the claim process.
- Make sure you are safe and not at risk or in any danger.
- Identify the source of the leak: check for water damage on your walls, ceiling, or around light fixtures with safety in mind.
- Document the damage caused by the roof leak: you can take clear pictures or the damaged areas and items. If possible, record a video. Make sure you record the source of the leak if you were able to identify it. Your insurer will want to see these documents.
- Cover the leaks, with safety in mind, to protect your property and move important items out of the areas of immediate effect to prevent further damage.
- Dry the area affected as much as you can to prevent mold.
- Make temporary repairs only if you and your property are safe. You can use buckets to catch steady drips of water or a wet vac or mop to soak up flood water.
Purchasing Homeowners insurance is important and can save you when a peril hits. You may resent roof leaks, but you do not know when it will happen. If you suddenly and accidentally encounter roof leaks, you will not feel the weight of repairs if you have homeowners insurance. Before you purchase a particular policy, you need to understand what it offers and what is excluded so that you get what fits your needs. Also, check your policy before you make a claim to ensure you’re not claiming what has been excluded.