Your homeowners insurance policy generally covers roof leaks and other damage to your roof, as long as the cause of the damage is not specifically excluded in your policy. However, if a leak occurs due to a lack of maintenance, you may have to pay for the repairs yourself.
As with any other claim, before making a claim for roof damage, make sure to consider your home insurance policy's deductibles to determine whether filing a claim makes the best 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 offer protection in most other cases.
Most roof leaks are covered by homeowners insurance policies. However, whether your homeowners insurance company will reimburse you for the repair of a roof leak — and any subsequent damage to your belongings — depends on the original cause of the leak. Your home insurance policy's declaration page explains which perils are covered or excluded under your current policy.
Most homeowners insurance policies cover an "open peril" list. These perils typically include, but are not limited to the following:
Perils covered by standard homeowners insurance policies
|Fire and smoke (including wildfires)||Damage from riots|
|Hail and windstorms||Excess weight due to snow, ice or sleet|
|Vandalism||Freezing of household amenities, such as the AC or heating system|
|Theft||Sudden and accidental breaking, cracking or bursting of pipes and other household systems|
|Damage from vehicles||Damage due to the sudden and accidental discharge of water or steam|
|Damage from aircraft||Sudden and accidental damage due to an electrical surge|
As a general rule, open perils include any damage resulting from a sudden and accidental incident, unless the cause of that damage is specifically excluded in your homeowners insurance policy. On the other hand, your insurance company will deny any claims filed for gradual wear and tear or lack of maintenance.
For example, if a storm knocks down a tree and it puts a hole in your roof, the repairs will likely be covered. If, however, years of weather have worn down your shingles and your roof springs a leak, you may have to take care of 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 the risks associated with your area. If you desire coverage for one of these hazards, you can usually add supplemental coverage to your policy in the form of an optional endorsement.
Hazards typically excluded from home insurance policies
- Earthquakes, landslides and mudslides
- 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 homeowners insurance policies, they are covered if they are the result of a covered incident. If mold grows in a naturally damp room, you won't be covered unless you've added an optional mold insurance endorsement to your policy.
However, if the mold is the result of a covered roof leak, your insurance company should also cover mold remediation, unless you've failed to file a claim for that leak in a timely manner.
How your home insurance company can help
Several home insurance companies offer policyholders 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 insurers usually provide a warranty for work completed by an approved contractor.
Below, we list some home insurance companies that offer policyholders special access to contractors.
|Farmers||All repairs made in response to a claim come with a five-year warranty.|
|Liberty Mutual||Policyholders have access to a 24-hour emergency home repair service.|
|Amica||All repairs receive a three-year warranty; offers 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 a straightforward process. Since roofs are typically sloped, it's common for water to enter your home at one part of your roof, only to trickle down to another area where the leak becomes apparent.
The first — and sometimes most difficult — step you should take is to find the source of the leak. Check your roof for any probable points of entry, such as a misaligned shingle, a raised nail, cracks near vent pipes, a misplaced gutter or a crack in the base of your chimney.
If you can't identify the point of entry by looking at your roof, try checking your attic. Search the interior for mold or moisture, or look for wet wood on a rainy day. Alternatively, you can spray your roof with a garden hose to locate the leak.
While this may seem counterintuitive, doing this on a dry day will allow you to fix the leak at a time when you 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 does not require much effort to fix. Often, a replaced shingle or rubber sealant will solve the problem. However, if you're uncomfortable doing maintenance on your roof, you should 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 a good idea to have a professional examine your home's water damage rather than trying to fix it yourself.
The total cost to repair your leak and any damage it causes depends on the size of the leak, its source and the length of time it exists before you fix it. 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 — including new shingles, plywood, cement and metal flashing — could cost anywhere from $700 to $3,000. Other factors, such as the danger involved with working around and repairing a skylight or chimney, may also affect your total costs.
Except for the most basic leaks, it's best to have a professional assess the damage and recommend repairs. Performing work on your roof can be dangerous, and while you may feel like you're saving money by repairing a leak yourself, you could end up costing yourself far more if your repairs are inadequate and lead to wood rot or mold damage.
Additionally, if your insurance company realizes that new damage is the result of work you tried to perform yourself rather than having a professional do the job, they may claim that 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 the significance of the leak, the size of your deductible and whether you've filed any other claims in the past few years.
Additionally, filing a claim may incur a premium increase when you renew your policy, as insurers will view your home as riskier to cover. So, unless your repair costs are significantly higher than your deductible, it might cost less over the long term to pay for it yourself.