When your roof is leaking, every drop can start to weigh on your mind like a ten-ton stone. Depending on the size of the leak, it can cause major damage to your home. Catching it early could potentially help avoid severe structural issues, but life doesn’t always give warnings and if the leak is severe enough, you may be stuck with costly damages. That’s a daunting prospect that may leave you wondering, “Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?” Let’s find out.
Does home insurance cover roof leaks?
Your homeowners insurance policy will contain a list of covered and excluded events, and roof leaks are typically included. However, the cause of the leak will help determine whether or not your claim is approved.
There are a seemingly limitless number of reasons for roof leaks. You’ve probably seen or dealt with some of the most common causes:
- Old age: As your home gets older, the roof experiences regular wear and tear from everyday life. Roofs need to be maintained and, eventually, replaced. If your roof is left to its own devices for too long without maintenance, it might eventually give way.
- Weather issues: Depending on the severity, weather storms can do major damage to your roof from falling debris. If the impact is strong enough, or your home gets hit one too many times, your roof might get damaged and — you guessed it — start to leak.
- Missing or damaged shingles: Shingles protect your roof by supporting water flow toward the gutters. Missing or damaged shingles could be due to poor installation. If your shingles are faulty, it may eventually result in a leak.
- Clogged gutters: Water (and the debris that comes with it) runs from your shingles and into your gutters for drainage. Without proper care, your gutters could clog up and be unable to filter the water correctly. Clogged gutters may send the water back up to the overwhelmed shingles, eventually causing a leak.
- Damaged or poorly installed flashing: Roof flashing is a thin metal layer that helps guide water away from certain areas of the roof like the chimney, preventing these areas from becoming overrun with water. Damaged or poorly installed flashing may lead to leaks.
While the direct cause of a leak helps determine potential coverage, it’s not the only thing. There’s still a bit more to consider in terms of the part you might have played. For example, let’s say you know your roof is old, you’ve avoided replacing it for too long, there’s a bad storm coming and — uh oh! Water starts pouring in.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been diligent as a homeowner and had a tree fall onto the roof causing a leak, that may be a different story. Insurance agents consider the entire story when assessing your coverage.
Roof insurance claims
In most sudden, accidental events that cause damage to your home you’ll probably begin by consulting your insurance company if you believe the event should be covered.
How to file a roof insurance claim
Filing an insurance claim is how you submit a formal request to your insurance company requesting coverage for the (hopefully eligible) situation at hand. Claims can be for things you know are clearly covered by your policy, or for something you’re hoping might be covered. Do note that claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approval isn’t guaranteed.
Other types of insurance to consider
If your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover your leak or you’re concerned about other hazards, it may make sense to explore other types of insurance. You may, for example, consider purchasing add-ons for your current policy. Add-ons typically drive up the cost of your homeowners insurance, but provide a wider range of coverage. If you live in an area prone to perils that aren’t typically covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, it may be worth getting a separate plan more tailored to your circumstances.
Earthquakes, landslides, corrosion and infestations are all examples of significant hazards not typically covered by homeowners insurance. Some of these, however may be covered by other hazard insurance policies.
If you’re wondering “does homeowners insurance covers leaks?”, the answer is, "It depends.” While leaks are generally mentioned in most homeowners policies, the circumstances around the leak will help determine if your insurance claim gets approved.