People often ask: Does homeowner’s insurance cover roof leaks?
Short answer: yes! But it depends on many factors.
For example, if you damaged your shingles trying to hang holiday lights— probably not. But if a large tree branch fell on your roof during a storm— most likely. But the only way to know for sure is to get a professional inspection of your roof leak. First, there are a few things you should know.
What Are The Signs of a Roof Leak?
A roof leak is often not as obvious as one may think, especially to the untrained eye. So before you ever begin filing an insurance claim, you’ll want to be sure you have an actual roof leak (or roof damage). For a homeowner without experience in roofing, this can prove challenging. But if you can notice any of the following signs, you have a good reason to contact a roofer regarding a potential leak.
- Water stains on your ceiling or walls. Water stains are a prime indicator that you have a roof leak. Whether or not that leak is large enough to show right away or has been growing over time may not be as apparent. But if you notice a water stain on your ceiling, you should get your attic inspected to mitigate further damage.
- Shingles that are cracked, missing, or damaged in any way. Severe storms that bring hail or strong winds can quickly lift or damage shingles at a moment’s notice. Any sort of noticeable damage to your shingles is the first and early sign that you may have a roof leak on your hands—even if you don’t notice water in your home’s interior.
- A musty smell in your attic (this could also be a sign of mold). While attics can trap moisture for other reasons, such as an old roof or poor insulation, it can also be a sign that water has been seeping into your attic space for any amount of time.
- Actual water dripping from your ceiling. Water dripping from your ceiling (of the attic or interior) is a big red flag and means you have a large and immediate roof leak. You can quickly stop further damage by using buckets or tarps to catch the water, but this would call for an emergency repair from a local roofer.
- Deflated insulation. If your attic has fiberglass insulation and your roof is leaking, that insulation can absorb that water and flatten it right away. Checking your insulation periodically not only can find leaks quickly, but you can ensure your attic is adequately insulated and prevent spikes in energy bills.
- Increased energy bills. Speaking of energy bills, a large roof leak can allow heat or cold to escape, which can cause an immediate or gradual increase in heating or cooling bills.
While these symptoms are not the end all be all of roof leaks, they are some of the most common tell-tale signs of one and can trigger you to act appropriately. The sooner you catch a roof leak, the better off you are mitigating further water damage and even more expensive repairs.
While filing an insurance claim or hiring a professional is a better way to care for roof leaks, you can remedy the situation quickly with a few quick DIY tips.
The Pros and Cons of DIY Roof Leak Repair
DIY roof repair can help mitigate further damage quickly, but it can also void warranties or make issues worse. So be very mindful when attempting to fix any roof leak. Weigh your options first, and when in doubt, file a claim through your insurance to get a professional repair.
The Benefits of DIY Roof Repair
- Get the job done quickly
- Save time and money
- Avoid the hassle of working with your insurance
The Drawbacks of DIY Roof Leak Repair
- More difficult to find the source of the leak
- Can cause more damage if not done correctly
- May void your roof’s warranty
- Requires some level of experience
While DIY roof repair is technically an option, we recommend filing a proper insurance claim and/or having a reputable contractor like Apple Roofing handle the job for you. We know how to pinpoint roof leaks and act accordingly to ensure there are no further issues while also maintaining the integrity of your roof and making sure warranties still apply.
How Do Home Insurance Companies Handle Roof Leaks in General?
Because roof leaks are frequently caused by strong winds or large hail in a storm, chances are high they fall under the 40% of insurance claims made per year by homeowners. But roof leaks aren’t always covered by insurance. In fact, insurance companies can be pretty stingy when it comes to paying out for roof leaks—based on several factors. An insurance claim for a roof leak will likely be denied when :
- the roof is too old
- the leak is caused by general wear and tear
- failed DIY repairs cause the leak
- lack of maintenance leaves the roof in poor condition
- old damage is ignored and becomes worse
This doesn’t mean your roof leak won’t be denied, however. Newer roofs that have experienced sudden and accidental roof damage that causes a leak should be covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.
So if you want to ensure your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover a potential roof leak, make sure you’re up-to-date on your roof maintenance. This means regularly cleaning your gutters, getting an annual roof inspection, and making repairs as needed. Also, make sure you thoroughly read through your insurance policy when you sign it so that there are no surprises like a denied claim when you need it most.
What is Typically Covered Under a Standard Homeowners Insurance Policy?
Insurance can be complicated. And you shouldn’t assume anything that happens on your property will be covered under insurance. It’s far more extensive and sensitive than that.
We mean that the dwelling portion of your insurance policy will often cover perils such as wind, fire, and hail damage that cause damage to your home, including the roof. But there are stipulations with that and additional coverages that won’t always be covered on a standard policy. For the most part, you can expect a standard homeowners insurance policy to cover the following:
- Damage from vehicles or aircraft
- Damage due to an electrical surge
- Damage due to sudden water like a burst pipe
- Damage from riots or vandalism
- Falling debris
- Snow or ice
- Volcanic eruption
What Won’t Be Covered Under Insurance?
On the flip side, some things may or may not surprise you that aren’t included in a standard policy. Things such as:
- Government action
- Insect or animal infestation
- Rust and Corrosion
Things like flood or hurricane insurance may depend on where you live and the frequency of such weather events. But that insurance would need to be added to your standard policy.
It’s important to note that while these are a good rule of thumb to consider, ultimately, homeowners are responsible for maintaining their homes and roofs, and lack of doing so can also be detrimental in determining whether or not a claim and repairs will be approved.
For example, if a storm rolls through and a portion of your roof that is damaged had prior structural issues due to lack of maintenance, that portion of the claim could be denied. A.k.a, just one portion of your roof leak repairs may be covered. So, in addition to knowing how to read and understand your insurance policy, homeowners also need to know how to properly maintain their roofs should this event ever occur.
Roofing Maintenance Tips to Make Sure Your Claim Gets Approved
Roof maintenance is definitely the long game of insurance claims and is crucial for prolonging your roof’s integrity and lifespan overall. Without proper maintenance, the life of your roof can be cut far shorter than intended. But following these tips can help prevent denied claims and issues in general.
- Get your roof cleaned every few years. While pressure washing can damage shingles and other roofing materials, getting a professional soft wash done every 3 to 5 years can do wonders for the condition of your roof. It cleans off debris and mold spores that can wreak havoc on your shingles and cause them to age quickly.
- Clean out your gutters. Your gutters, of course, help clear rainwater and debris from your roof so that it doesn’t just fall around your property. But they also do so much more than that. Your gutters ensure your roof sheds rain, ice, snow, and debris to do its job protecting your home. If your gutters get clogged, they can back up into your roof under the roof’s edge and shingles.
- Properly insulate the attic. Did you know that nearly 75% of homes are under-insulated? That means up to 25% of heating and cooling energy is lost through your attic, which raises costs and severely limits your home’s energy efficiency. Reinsulating your attic is easy and cost-effective.
- Know how to identify roof leaks. Referring to our earlier portion of this guide, common signs of roof leaks include water stains on the ceiling, high energy bills, and mold or mildew in the attic. Keeping a handy list of the most common signs of roof leaks can help mitigate further damage and ensure repairs get done when they should.
- Make timely, necessary repairs. To piggyback off of identifying roof leaks, don’t hesitate to get it fixed if you do spot something that looks like a roof leak. Making roof repairs is part of roof maintenance, and putting things off will only set you up for failure and a denied roofing claim down the road.
- Sign up for a maintenance plan with a local roofer. Some roofing companies offer maintenance plans that include cleaning, repairs, and other maintenance that can prolong the life of your roof. Regular roof inspections are also vital to upholding the integrity of your roof.
Will Insurance Cover Water Damage That Was Caused by a Roof Leak?
Typically, your homeowner’s policy will also cover the cost of water damage from a roof leak if it falls under the stipulation of the perils listed in your policy. i.e., roof leak and water damage from severe storm damage on a newer roof with no prior issues.
But like we said before if the water damage is related to damage caused by a poorly maintained or repaired roof, it’s likely insurance will not cover the repairs.
Note: This is another reason why regular inspections and maintenance are vital to getting insurance claims approved for roof leaks. Keeping a record that showcases your roof is well maintained and cared for and helps ensure when damage occurs, it was indeed due to something out of your control vs. poor maintenance.
Here’s How to Make Sure Your Insurance Company Will Cover Roof Damage
If your roof is damaged, the first thing you should do is contact your insurance agent or company to start a claim.
From there, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case and will likely visit your property to assess the damage.
It’s important to know that most insurance policies have a deductible (the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your coverage kicks in) and will likely only cover the cost to repair or replace the damaged portion of your roof.
What’s important is that you take pictures and document everything related to the damage, as this will be used by the insurance adjuster when making their determination on whether or not your claim is valid and will be approved.
And lastly, waving a certified roofing contractor like Apple Roofing inspect and repair your roof is also essential as they can provide an estimate of the damage which will help substantiate your claim. Our roofing experts have the experience and ability to ensure your roof gets repaired on time and within budget—with the help of appropriate insurance claims. If you require fast, efficient roof repairs—contact us right away!