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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage and Leaks?

Does water drip from your ceiling every time there is a heavy rainstorm? If so, you may have roof damage. A standard homeowners insurance covers roof damages in certain circumstances. However, homeowners insurance coverage doesn't pay for damages that result from age or lack of maintenance.

In this article, you'll learn when your homeowners insurance policy will cover repairs for roof damage and when it won't.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

Insurance companies pay for roof damage when the source is a covered peril listed in your policy. Additionally, the damage must arise from a sudden or accidental cause. Your home insurance policy lists all covered hazards and those which it excludes on your declarations page.

Insurance companies pay for roof damage when the source is a covered peril listed in your policy.

Open perils homeowners insurance policies cover roof damages from a wide range of perils unless they exclude them. For example, an open perils policy may exclude coverage for hail or windstorms if you live in a storm-prone area, like Kansas, Texas or Oklahoma. Or, if you live in a storm-prone location, your carrier may require you to pay a special deductible. These deductibles are standard in areas like Tornado Alley or the Gulf Region (for more on deductibles scroll down).

What Kind of Roof Damage Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

A standard homeowners insurance policy pays for damages to your home's roof from covered perils that include:

  • Fire, smoke and wildfires
  • Weight of rain, ice or snow
  • Windstorms and hail
  • Lightning strikes
  • Hurricanes
  • Damage from vehicles
  • Damage from aircraft

1. Dwelling Coverage and Roof Damage

Dwelling coverage pays for repairs when a covered peril causes damages to your home's structure. For example, what if a tree fell on your roof after a heavy storm, causing significant damages. Your dwelling coverage would pay for the repair costs since insurers consider your roof as part of your home's structure.

2. Other Structures Coverage and Roof Damage

Other structures coverage pays for damages to any detached structures on your property. These include sheds, detached garages and unattached decks. It will pay for roof damages to detached structures on your property.

When Are Roof Leaks Covered by Home Insurance?

Your homeowners insurance excludes coverage for roof damage from several different sources. They include:

  • Pest and animal infestations
  • Negligence from general wear and tear
  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes, landslides and mudslides
  • Settling, cracking and warping of your home
  • Cosmetic damage
  • Acts of war
  • Smog, corrosion and rust

How to Find a Roof Leak

Do you notice watermarks and water damage on your ceiling? If you have a leaky roof, you can use this process to narrow the source of potential leaks, but it may be wiser to ask a contractor to conduct these tests.

If a severe storm recently barreled through your area, causing pine cones or branches to fall onto your house, you may have roof damage. Do you see missing shingles, dislocated gutters or other issues? If so, take photos.

You can also try identifying the leak by examining your attic's ceiling. Search for mold, black marks or water stains.

Additionally, you can ask a friend to grab a water hose and spray the area above the leak's suspected location. Stay inside to see if a drip appears.

Need a Better Insurance for Roof Damage and Leaks?

How Much Does it Cost to Fix Roof Damage?

Before you file a homeowner's insurance claim, get a quote for the repair costs from a roofing company. Average repairs for a roof leak nationwide cost $950, according to Home Advisor, and range between $150 to $7,000. The leak's source and age can impact how much it will cost to fix the roof. If you only have a small leak, your repairs could cost as little as $10 - $120 to fix using a rubber sealant to repair the damage. Extensive roof repairs, such as new shingles, cement, plywood and other repairs could cost $800 - $3,100 or more.

Before you file a homeowner's insurance claim, get a quote for the repair costs from a roofing company.

Always ask a professional roofing company to examine the damage and recommend repairs. Don't try to save money by repairing any roof leaks yourself. You may cause more destruction. If the insurance company believes you caused the leaks, they could attribute any damage to your repair efforts. As a result, they could refuse to pay a claim.

What Is a Roof Damage Deductible?

Insurance companies pay for roof damages and repairs after deductibles are met so choose one that you can afford. Review your insurance policy to learn what deductibles you're responsible for meeting. Additionally, find out which insurance coverage limits also apply.

1. Hail and Windstorm Deductible

The two biggest causes of roof damage are hail and windstorms. Standard home insurance policies usually cover hail damage unless you live in an area where these storms frequently occur. Insurance companies require their customers to pay a special hail or windstorm deductible in these areas.

A deductible costs one to ten percent of your home's dwelling coverage so if you've insured your home for $300,000, and your hail deductible is one percent, you must pay $3,000 out of pocket before the carrier will reimburse you for the remaining costs for repairs for structural damages.

2. Hurricane Deductible

In coastal regions, residents must pay a hurricane deductible when a named storm causes roof damages. Insurers only trigger this coverage when the National Hurricane Center officially names a tropical storm. Deductibles are usually one to five percent of your home insurance policy and can run as high as 10 percent.

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim for Roof Damage

If you have roof damage, there are several steps you can follow to file a claim with your insurance company. In addition to the steps below, here's more on how insurance agents determine roof damage claims.

1. Get Pictures of Damaged Areas

Take pictures of any visible roof damage from the exterior of your home. Additionally, get photographs of any water-damaged areas on ceilings and in attics as well as any water damage or flooding the roof leak caused. Note the size of the affected room(s).

2. Ask for Repair Estimates

After taking pictures, ask a few reputable contractors to assess your roof damage and estimate how much repairs will cost. If the damage significantly exceeds your deductible, you can file a claim with your insurer.

If your deductible costs $1,000 and your repairs are $7,000, then you should go ahead and file but if damages cost $500 it makes no sense to file a claim because you're responsible for the deductible amount.

3. File a Claim with the Insurer

Fill out the required paperwork and send pictures of the damages. The insurance company will review your evidence and may send an insurance adjuster to examine the roof. If approved, your insurer will give you a settlement based on the repair estimates, after subtracting your deductible amount from your final payment.

Getting Adequate Homeowners Insurance Rates, Saving Money

Buying an affordable homeowners insurance policy can help you pay for roof repairs if a problem arises. Making sure to maintain your roof is important to ensure that your insurance claims will be paid. If a storm does cause damage to your otherwise upkept roof, documenting the damage with photographs is an important part of the claims process. Make sure to hire a trusted professional for an estimate and to repair the roof.

Buying home insurance doesn't have to be huge expense. Use the free SmartFinancial homeowners insurance comparison-tool to pair you with the insurance agent offering the best rates in your area. Enter your zip code below to begin.

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