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Ask the Home Insurance Expert

My roof is leaking. Will home insurance cover the cost to repair it?

It depends on what caused the leak, but in most cases home insurance would not pay to repair or replace a leaky roof because leaks that develop over time are usually related to maintenance issues. Insurance is designed to protect against costly sudden and accidental problems. Home owners are responsible for basic upkeep and repairs.

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However, if the leak is a result of a recent covered peril, home insurance would cover the repair. For instance, if a tree fell on your house during a windstorm and tore a hole in the roof, insurance would pay for the roof and home repair and cover any belongings that were damaged inside. You would also be reimbursed for the cost of removing the tree.

Typically, a home insurance policy would also cover water damage to furniture if your roof developed a leak in a heavy rainstorm and water soaked belongings inside, even though the policy wouldn't pay to repair the roof in that case.

Word to the wise: inquiring about damage to your home

Be careful about reporting damage to your home insurance company that your policy doesn't cover. Even if you don't follow through with a claim, in some cases the damage report can go on your record and count against you. One phone call about a problem won't hurt, but several inquiries about damage combined with actual claims could lead to a higher premium or, even worse, non-renewal by your insurance company.

For more, see Water damage: Seven home insurance scenarios

Last updated: Aug. 2, 2011
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