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Roof leaks, or all damage to your roof, are generally covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy up to your limits so long as the cause was not an exclusion. Below we'll explain how roof leaks are covered by your insurer, when they're not covered, and what to do if your roof is leaking.
How Homeowners Insurance Covers Roof Leaks
Most common issues that caused your roof to leak will be covered by your insurance, up to your policy limits. Standard homeowners insurance policies are considered 'open peril' when it comes to the structure of your home, meaning almost everything is covered unless it is explicitly excluded. For example, wind damage is an accepted peril because it is not excluded in your policy. If the wind from a hurricane tears a hole in your roof causing it to leak, you can file a claim.
Earthquakes are commonly excluded as covered perils by homeowners insurance companies. If an earthquake forced shingles on your roof to be out of place, you would not be covered. Below are a few more examples of things that are commonly not insured for in standard policies. You either need a separate and special insurance policy, or you'll have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket.
- Natural Flood
- Intentional Damage
- Rust and Corrosion
- Mold (see below)
- Government Action
- Vandalism if the building was vacant
These are just a few common examples. To see what is actually excluded, you will need to read your policy with a sharp eye. Some policies, for example, may exclude damage from pets you own, while others won't mention pets. Its important you are familiar with your policies for cases such as these. When it comes to damages caused by mold and general neglect, things may get a bit trickier to sort out.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks Caused by Mold?
Roof leaks caused by mold are a different matter: it depends on what caused the mold to grow in the first place. Homeowners insurance will cover roof leaks caused by mold, only if the mold was caused by a named peril in your homeowners policy. This is different from the exclusion that we discussed above. Mold can rot away at wood and material used in your roof, which can cause an opening and leakage over time. If internal damage, like any pipes bursting or rupturing, causes mold to form, which then causes your roof to leak, any cost of repairs could be paid for by your homeowners insurance policy because burst pipes are a named peril. If the mold is a result of never addressing an issue of excess moisture in your attic, that is considered neglect, and you would not be covered in that instance.
Proving mold is a direct consequence of something you're covered for can be exceedingly difficult--especially if your home is older. We would recommend that whenever you have an internal flood event, you call in a mold prevention unit right away. Your insurance company will pay for the cost of the team as part of the claim for the water damage. When you prevent the mold from growing in the first place, you save yourself the hassle of dealing with an outbreak later.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks Caused by Wear and Tear?
Damage due to wear and tear as a result of neglect is almost never covered by homeowners insurance policies. If you let your roof age with little upkeep--letting shingles become brittle, never cleaning gutters--and your roof starts to leak, you are likely going to have to pay for those repairs out of pocket. It is crucial that you do regular inspections of your roof--at least one or twice a year, and after major storms. In the fall, its important to keep debris to a reasonable amount. You're not expected to go up there every week to clean, but at the end of the season it would be a good idea to go up and remove the leaves and twigs before the winter comes. Wear and tear are expected of roofs, and even with meticulous inspection, you may not be able to stop a leak from forming. What routine inspections will do though is make sure the damage is small, and inexpensive to fix.
How to Spot a Roof Leak Early
During your inspections, you should be on the look out for early signs of roof leaks. Broken shingles or tiles will be an obvious tell-tale sign. Uprooted nails, warped parts of the roof are other signs to look out for. You may also spot roof leaks from within your attic. If you spot dark stains forming in certain parts of the roof your attic, it is likely there is water entering from the roof and accumulating in the ceiling. State Farm has informative guides on how they perform their own roof inspections that you may utilize for your own inspections.
When Should You File a Homeowners Insurance Claim for Your Leaky Roof?
You should file a homeowners claim as soon as you determine your roof will need repairs. The best way for determining this is by hiring a professional to inspect your roof--after you have given it your own inspection. Usually inspections cost little or nothing so long as the as the inspector is only assessing the damage. A general inspection, which is thorough assessment of your roof, can cost several hundred dollars on the other hand. The two most important things to hear from the inspector is the cause of the damage (or the likely cause) and the cost to repair the damage.
If the cost to repair the roof is $500 for example, then you should think twice before involving your home insurance company. Most homeowners insurance policies have at least $750 deductibles, meaning you would have to "pay" $750 to fix a $500 problem. For a $1,000 claim and a $750 deductible, you would only receive $250 from your insurer. If the cost of the repairs turns out to be greater than your deductible, but only slightly, you may want to consider not filing a claim in this case as well. Whenever you file a claim, your insurance rates go up, which can make your homeowners insurance premiums much higher in the long run. Paying an extra $100 or $200 past your deductible may be the more cost effective option.
How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cover You For?
Most roofs are covered up to the full limits of the 'structural coverage' of the standard homeowners policy. A roof is part of the structure of your home and is thus covered like any other part. Your roof, no matter how old, will be covered to the full limits--despite what some may say. Take caution though, if there is already damage on your roof, you may have trouble finding insurance. Your roof will likely have to pass an inspection in order to find a homeowners insurance company to insure your home.