Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Your homeowners insurance policy generally covers roof leaks and damage, as long as the cause is not specifically excluded in your policy. However, if a leak occurs due to lack of maintenance, you may have to pay for the repairs yourself.

As with any other claim, before making a claim for roof damage, consider your home insurance policy's deductible to determine whether filing a claim makes financial sense.

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Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?

Your homeowners insurance won't cover leaks caused by wear and tear or poor maintenance But it should protect you in most other cases.

Roof leaks are usually covered by homeowners insurance policies. However, whether your insurance company will reimburse you for the repair — and any damage to your belongings — depends on the cause of the leak. Your policy's declaration page explains which perils are covered or excluded.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover an "open peril" list. These typically include, but aren't limited to, damage from the following:

Perils covered by standard homeowners insurance policies
Fire and smoke (including wildfires)Riots
ExplosionsVolcanic eruption
LightningFalling objects
Hailstorms and windstormsExcess weight due to snow, ice or sleet
VandalismFreezing of household systems, such as AC or heating
TheftSudden and accidental breaking, cracking or bursting of pipes and other household systems
VehiclesSudden and accidental discharge of water or steam
AircraftSudden and accidental electrical surge

Open perils generally include any damage from a sudden accident, unless the cause is specifically excluded in your homeowners policy. But your insurance company will deny any claims for gradual wear and tear or lack of maintenance.

If a storm knocks down a tree and puts a hole in your roof, the repairs will likely be covered. But if years of weather have worn down your shingles, and your roof springs a leak, you may have to pay for the damage yourself.

Some perils, such as floods, are typically excluded from home insurance policies. Other hazards may be excluded or subject to lower limits based on risks associated with your area. If you want coverage for one of these, you can usually add an endorsement to your policy.

Hazards typically excluded from home insurance policies

  • Earthquakes, landslides and mudslides
  • Floods
  • Damage due to an infestation of animals or insects
  • Negligence and general wear and tear
  • Settling, cracking or warping of your house's foundation
  • Damage caused by your pets
  • War or government action
  • Smog, rust and corrosion

While mold and fungus are typically excluded from standard policies, they are covered if they result from a covered incident.

If mold grows in a naturally damp room, you won't be covered unless you've added optional mold insurance to your policy. However, if the mold is the result of a covered roof leak, your insurance company should cover mold remediation, unless you fail to file a claim for that leak right away.

How your home insurance company can help

Several home insurance companies offer access to a network of approved and qualified contractors, and working with them could save you money. The contractors typically don't charge for an estimate, and insurance companies usually provide a warranty for work completed by an approved contractor.

Below are some companies that offer their policyholders special access to contractors.

Company
Highlight
FarmersAll repairs made in response to a claim come with a five-year warranty.
Liberty MutualPolicyholders have access to 24-hour emergency home repair service.
Amica Mutual InsuranceAll repairs include a five-year warranty, and they offer assistance with renovations.

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How to find a roof leak

Spotting a roof leak as early as possible is critical for minimizing damage to your home and belongings. Unfortunately, it's not always straightforward. The slope of a roof means it's common for water to enter your home at one part of your roof, but trickle down to another area, where the leak becomes apparent.

First you should look at the roof to find the source of the leak. Check for any probable points of entry, such as a misaligned shingle, a raised nail, cracks near vent pipes, a misplaced gutter or a crack at the base of your chimney.

If you can't identify the point of entry on the roof, check your attic. Search the interior for mold or moisture, or look for wet wood on a rainy day. You can even spray your roof with a garden hose to locate the leak. This may seem counterintuitive, but doing it on a dry day will help you find the leak while allowing you to control the amount of water that can enter your home.

If you still can't find any crack or puncture, it may be possible that the source is a plumbing leak.

If you identify a roof leak early, it usually doesn't require much effort to fix. Often, a replacement shingle or rubber sealant will solve the problem. But if you're uncomfortable doing maintenance on your roof, ask a professional to take care of it.

How much does a roof leak cost to fix?

Although repairs could be expensive, depending on the scope of your loss, it's good to have a professional examine the damage, rather than trying to fix it yourself.

The total cost to repair your leak and any damage it caused depends on the size of the leak, its source and how long it's been there.

If you only need to apply a rubber sealant to a leaking vent, your repair could cost less than $100.

On the other hand, if you need to reshingle a section of your roof, the materials and labor may cost $400 to $700.

Significant roof repairs — new shingles, plywood, cement and metal flashing — could cost anywhere from $700 to $3,000. Other factors, such as the danger of working around and repairing a skylight or chimney, may also affect your costs.

Except for the most basic leaks, it's best to have a professional assess the damage and recommend repairs. Working on your roof can be dangerous. And while you may feel like you're saving money by repairing it yourself, you could end up costing yourself far more if your repairs are inadequate and lead to wood rot or mold damage.

Also, if your insurance company realizes that new damage is the result of work you tried to do yourself instead of hiring a professional, they may say you're responsible for the damage and deny your claim.

Should you file a claim for a roof leak?

Whether you should file a homeowners insurance claim for a roof leak depends on how bad the leak is, the size of your deductible and whether you've filed other claims in the past few years.

Most homeowners insurance policies come with a deductible of $500 to $2,500, which you'll have to pay before you receive any money from the company. If you have a $750 deductible, and the damage will cost only $400 to repair, you wouldn't receive a reimbursement, so it makes sense to skip filing a claim.

Additionally, filing a claim may trigger a premium increase when you renew your policy, as companies will view your home as riskier to cover. So, unless your repair costs are much higher than your deductible, it might cost less over the long term to pay for it yourself.

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