Being a homeowner has some great advantages over renting – equity, paying on an investment every month rather than paying rent to a landlord and the freedom to do whatever you want with the place. But one of the main drawbacks to homeownership is home maintenance and repairs as they can be costly and inconvenient.
A house’s roof is one of the main things home buyers look at when they’re house shopping as it’s a huge expense – a new roof can cost in the range of $5K to $11K depending on the size of the house – but most ring in at around $10K. And with the average lifespan of a roof being about 20 years, it’s a big-ticket item – and one you should keep maintained.
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect against costly sudden and accidental problems, but homeowners are responsible for home maintenance and repairs. In the case of a roof leak, your homeowners insurance policy likely won’t cover it unless it’s caused by a covered peril. If the damage occurs gradually or is caused by negligence or poor maintenance, you’ll be on your own.
- Homeowners insurance policies typically only cover roof leaks when they result from a covered peril, such as wind, hail or fire.
- Insurance companies might not want to insure your home if your roof is in poor condition or is 20+ years old without an inspection.
- Roofs are pricey fixes – they can cost $10K to replace.
- Contact your homeowners insurance company immediately in order to file a claim for a leaking roof.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from a leaking roof?
It depends on what caused the leak, but in most cases, homeowners insurance would not pay to repair or replace a leaky roof because leaks that develop over time are usually related to maintenance issues.
However, if the leak is a result of a covered peril – such as hail, lightning, wind or fire – homeowners 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.
If your personal belongings were damaged because of a leaking roof, your homeowners insurance policy should cover any furniture, clothes or sports equipment as a result of an insured disaster. Additional personal property coverage can pay to repair or replace your belongings inside the house.
How can I get homeowners insurance with a bad roof?
Home insurance companies take into account several factors when they write homeowners insurance policies, including the age and condition of the house’s roof. If you have an older roof, your insurer might require a roof inspection by a quality roofer.
If you’re looking to buy a house with an older roof, this is a good negotiation point during the sale process – buyers can request an allowance against the sale price of the home to get the roof replaced.
When will homeowners insurance cover a roof leak?
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover a roof leak if the leak was caused by a covered peril, such as hail, fire or a windstorm. However, your home insurance company will not cover roof leaks due to poor maintenance or negligence.
Importantly, flood damage typically isn’t covered under a homeowners policy – it’s additional coverage you’ll have to purchase. Also, damage caused by animals such as squirrels and pest infestations are classified as maintenance problems, which aren’t covered under homeowners insurance policies.
- Hail: If a hailstorm damages your roof and causes a leak and water damage, it should be covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
- Fire: Lighting and fire typically are covered under homeowners insurance policies. Make sure to read the fine print of your policy, though – living in wildfire-prone areas might make additional coverage necessary.
- Wind: Windstorms are a covered peril through your homeowners insurance policy, so if a windstorm blows a tree onto your roof and damages it, the roof repair should be covered by your insurance policy.
Avoid common leaks to prevent significant water damage in your home. Here are a few things to do to make sure you don’t have problems down the road with your roof:
- Keep your roof maintained: Replace broken or worn shingles and tiles. Photograph your roof so you have them on file in case it gets damaged.
- Look for water damage: Keep an eye out for cracked or warped flooring or bubbles/water stains on ceilings and walls, which can signal a leak. If you suspect leaks, contact a professional who can check for water leaks.
- Look for mold and mildew: If you see mold or mildew, it’s a good indication that water is entering your house.
- Gutter functionality: Point all downspouts away from the house to prevent foundation damage or basement seepage. Make sure gutters are in good condition and free of debris.
- Keep an eye on it: Visually inspect the roof – especially the condition of roof shingles – to see if any are missing or damaged. Make sure your roof is sealed. A roof is the first line of defense against water and storm damage.
- Get it inspected: If your roof is older than 10 years, hire a roof inspector to check for damage.
If there’s been a weather event, like a spate of storms, it’s a good idea to check your home’s exterior – look at downspouts, gutters and the roof to see if anything’s amiss. Also check the attic to see if there are any wet spots. If you see a leak, take photos of the damage from the interior and exterior, as well as any damage or water that’s pooling inside the house. Clean up the water as best as you can and contact your insurance company.
The first thing you want to do when you’ve spotted a leak is to call your insurance company to file a claim and find out what’s covered. And If you have photos of the roof before and after the weather event, send them to your insurer.
Finally, contact a licensed roofing repair company to get on their schedule for repairs. Make sure to vet any roofer you’re considering through the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants or the National Roofing Contractors Association. Future insurance payouts won’t be covered if the repairs are done incorrectly, so do your due diligence vetting a roofing company.
Frequently asked questions
Can I file an insurance claim for a leaking roof?
A roof likely will be covered by homeowners insurance if your roof is damaged by a common peril, which results in a leak. Commonly covered perils include fire, wind and hail damage. Read your policy to determine any exclusions and keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for the deductible.
Does State Farm homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?
No. State Farm homeowners insurance typically covers losses caused by water abruptly leaking from a pipe inside the house, a frozen/burst pipe (as long as reasonable care was taken to maintain house heating) and water damage caused by ice dams. For roofs, State Farm typically covers wind and downed trees, hail, fire and lighting.
Does USAA homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?
Yes. USAA homeowners insurance policies only cover water damage that’s considered “sudden and accidental,” such as damage caused by burst pipes or accidental leaks, as well as by a fire, storm or roof leak.