Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Will homeowners insurance pay for roof repairs in the event of a leak?

Are roof leaks covered by homeowners insurance?

Homeowners insurance covers roof leaks if the damage is caused by a covered peril. A peril is the cause of loss — for example, fire. While the specifics of your policy determine whether you have coverage for roof leaks, let's outline some of the common examples of when roof leaks and damage are and are not covered. 

  1. When are roof leaks covered by home insurance?
  2. When are roof leaks not covered by insurance?
  3. How to file an insurance claim for a damaged roof
  4. How to protect your roof, additional coverage, and FAQ

 

Homeowners insurance for roof leaks and damage

Your roof is insured against leaks if the damage is caused by a covered peril. Most homeowners policies cover the structure of your home on an open peril basis. An open peril policy insures against every source of damage except those explicitly excluded from your policy. 

The following perils are excluded from coverage on most homeowners policies:

  • Damage from a frozen or broken pipe system in vacant dwellings
  • Damage to foundations or pavements from ice and water weight
  • Theft from a dwelling under construction
  • Vandalism to vacant dwellings
  • Latent defects, corrosion, industrial smoke, pollution
  • Settling, wear and tear
  • Pets, other animals, and pests
  • Weather conditions that aggravate another excluded cause of loss, i.e., flood
  • Government and association actions
  • Defective construction, design, and maintenance

 

Examples of covered claims for roof leaks and damage

As long as the roof damage doesn't occur as a result of one of the above excluded perils, you should have coverage via the dwelling structure portion of your insurance policy.

Below are common examples of circumstances resulting in insurance claims for roof leaks or damage:

  • Hail damage
  • Fire 
  • Wind 
  • Tree collapse
  • Lightning damage
  • Raccoon/animal damage*

*This coverage may vary. Check your policy details. Homeowners insurance policies generally exclude damage caused by household pets, such as a dog or cat.

If your roof or shingles are damaged in the event of one of the above losses and a leak occurs, you would be covered. Your dwelling insurance coverage would cover the cost of repairs to thee roof and structure. Most homes are insured on a replacement cost basis, meaning your roof would be replaced at its current market value.

Any damage to personal property, such as a rug or couch, would be covered by personal property coverage. Personal property insurance is paid out either on actual cash value or replacement cost. The key difference here is how you are reimbursed. Actual cash value factors depreciation into reimbursement values, while replacement cost does not. 

It’s a good idea to insure your home and property on a replacement cost basis. For more information, see our guides below:

 

When is a leaky roof or shingle damage not covered by home insurance?

A circumstance in which you will have no coverage via homeowners insurance for roof damage or leaks is in the event of a natural disaster. Damage to your roof and any subsequent damage caused by flooding, hurricanes, or earthquakes will not be covered. You can add coverage for these perils (explained here).

General roof wear and tear is not covered by home insurance. You cannot use your insurance to cover the cost of replacing your roof simply because your current roof is old. 

Homeowners insurance claims often fall within a grey area. If you’re unsure of whether the damage will be covered by insurance, speak to an insurance adjuster at your company.


How to file an insurance claim for roof damage

Consult our full guide to insurance claims for homeowners insurance or review some general best practices below. 


Take photos

Once you notice roof damage, take pictures. Try to determine the source of damage and take pictures of that as well. 

 

Get an estimate for repair costs if the damage seems minor

Your provider will not pay out a claim if the value of damage does not exceed your deductible. If a raccoon destroyed a few shingles and you have a deductible of $1,000, you should consider the value of filing a claim. 

Even if your claim doesn't lead to a payout, your insurance company can still raise your rates. If you’ve had more than one claim in the past three years, you could be dropped by your insurance provider. If you’re worried the value of damage might not exceed your deductible, consider consulting a roofing contractor for an estimate.


Contact your insurance provider

If the value of damage is greater than your deductible, contact your insurance provider’s claims department. They will provide a cost estimate for the repairs, estimated time required for the fixes, and other necessary information. 


How to protect your roof, additional coverage, and discounts

Replacing a roof is not a cheap process. Average repair costs for a 1,200-foot roof may range from $4,500 to $6,500. As such, you should extra precautions to ensure your asset is properly insured.


How to protect your roof

Home insurance will not cover wear and tear damage to your roof: upkeep is your responsibility as a homeowner. Follow our steps below to protect your roof to avoid out of pocket repairs.

  1. Keep your gutters clean 
  2. Get in the habit of regular visual inspections
  3. Remove debris from the roof — trees, leaves, and moss.
  4. Trim trees near your roof 
  5. Perform inspections after storms and remove debris — especially ice and hail 

 

Additional coverage to consider

Consider the following additional coverage in order to fully protect your home, belongings, and your roof.

  • Flood insurance: purchase flood insurance via a National Flood Insurance Policy to protect your roof from flood damage. This applies to damage caused by hurricanes, as well.
  • Earthquake coverage or endorsement: this occasionally comes as an add-on or separate coverage to protect your home against earthquake damage.

 

Home insurance discounts for roof repair

Many insurance providers will offer discounts for newly constructed roofs. Discount amounts differ, so be sure to notify your insurance provider when you update your roof to qualify for this discount. They might require proof of roof material or recent maintenance, such as a bill of sale.


Additional resources

 

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