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Will home insurance pay for a leaky roof?

Your home insurance likely won't pay for the roof repair because it will consider the problem a result of lack of maintenance. Home insurance covers problems that are "sudden and accidental." An aging roof that develops a leak would not qualify. Basic upkeep is considered the homeowner's responsibility.

However, your home insurance policy may cover damage caused by the water that leaks through your roof, such as damage to soaked furniture. If the puddle caused extensive damage to your living room, you can check with your insurance company about what coverage might be available to replace items or repair the floor.

Water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims, and coverage can be confusing. Usually the damage caused by water, such as a ruined floor after a dishwasher hose bursts, would be covered. But the problem that caused the damage -- the leaking hose -- may not be, according to Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Another source of confusion for water damage claims is the definition of the term "flood." To insurers, a flood is from the overflow of a stream, river or lake and damage caused by a flood is covered only through flood insurance. It is not covered under a standard home insurance policy. Even though your bathroom is knee deep in water after a pipe bursts, insurance companies would not consider your bathroom "flooded," and you should not report the water damage as a flood, or you might risk denial of coverage.

Read more about home insurance exclusions: what your policy won't cover and water damage: seven home insurance scenarios.

Last updated: Nov. 1, 2010