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If you’re noticing water spots on your ceilings or walls, you may have a roof leak. You should take care of roof leaks right away since they can cause severe damage to your ceiling, paint, lighting, and other parts of your home.
A home insurance policy covers roof leaks in many cases, but it all depends on the cause of the roof leak. Making sure you have proper protection is key to avoiding added stress and lowering the cost of repairs.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and roof leaks:
Does home insurance cover roof leaks?
Home insurance will cover a roof leak if the damage is due to a covered peril. Perils are events typically outside of your control that cause damage to your home. Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover a certain number of perils, including fires and windstorms.
Your home insurance policy consists of several different coverages, many of which are relevant to roof leaks.
Dwelling coverage — the main component of your policy — protects your home’s physical structure, which includes your roof. If a detached structure on your property (such as a garage or shed) experiences a roof leak, your policy’s other structures coverage will help pay for the damage.
Meanwhile, personal property coverage can help replace personal belongings that a roof leak damages.
Perils covered by home insurance
Roofs can be very expensive to repair or replace. The average homeowner spends over $8,800 to install a new roof, according to HomeAdvisor. Luckily, your homeowners insurance covers many of the perils that could lead to a roof leak, including:
- Falling objects (such as trees)
- Weight of snow or ice
- Water damage (not related to flooding)
- Windstorms or hail
Some homeowners insurance policies may exclude coverage for windstorms and hail, or other perils like floods and earthquakes. To ensure you have coverage for specific perils, be sure to review the declarations page of your policy to understand the coverage, deductibles, and limitations.
Roof damage coverage limits
Since your roof is included as part of your policy’s dwelling coverage, the typical reimbursement limit for roof leaks will vary.
With dwelling coverage, you set your limit. The amount should be enough to cover the total replacement cost of your home. Other structures coverage is typically 10% of your dwelling limit.
Once you file a claim and pay your deductible, you could be reimbursed up to $250,000 to repair your home’s roof, plus $25,000 (10% of your dwelling coverage) to repair the shed’s roof leak.
Personal property coverage limits usually range between 50% and 70% of your total dwelling coverage amount. This coverage applies to any personal belongings damaged by a roof leak, like if a leak created water stains on your carpet.
Finally, you may need to move into temporary housing while your roof is being repaired. Your home insurance’s loss of use coverage can help pay for expenses like hotel stays, food, and storage costs during this time. Loss of use coverage is typically 20% of your dwelling coverage limit.
Check Out: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?
When home insurance doesn’t cover roof leaks
There’s no guarantee that your homeowners insurance provider will cover roof repairs due to a roof leak.
Here are a few scenarios when homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover roof leak damage:
- Material deterioration due to old age (wear and tear)
- Neglected maintenance
- Damage resulting from mold
- Damage from earthquakes, floods, or any other excluded peril
- Construction or contractor errors
Tip: Consider getting annual roof inspections to examine the age and condition of your roof. Spotting structural and material imperfections early can give you time to conduct the proper maintenance, and help prevent a roof leak from occurring.
How do insurance carriers handle roof damage?
When damage to your roof results in a leak, it’s important to contact your insurance carrier right away. After you file a claim, the carrier will send an adjuster to assess the damage and estimate how much repairs might cost.
Depending on the situation, you may not need to replace the roof entirely. A contractor can help you make this determination.
If your claim is approved, you’ll pay your deductible and the insurance carrier will issue a reimbursement check (also known as a settlement), which you’ll use to pay the contractor for the repairs. Sometimes, the initial check is just an advance on the total amount, so you may receive more payments.
Important: If you have a mortgage and the lender is listed on your homeowners insurance policy, your insurance provider will make the check out to you and the lender. Before you receive any payment, the lender will need to endorse the check first.
Additional roof coverages
Since homeowners insurance may not always cover roof damages and leaks, consider additional roof coverages or adding an endorsement to your policy, such as:
- Flood insurance: Water damage to your roof caused by flooding isn’t covered under a standard home insurance policy. You’ll need to purchase a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer to protect your home.
- Earthquake insurance: Depending on the intensity, earthquakes can cause cracks in your home’s structure and even loosen joints in your roof. If earthquakes are common in your area, adding earthquake coverage as an endorsement can give you some peace of mind.
- Mold: A leaky roof could result in mold growth, and your home insurance policy may not cover this type of damage. To ensure reimbursement for mold removal and remediation, consider adding mold coverage to your policy.
Learn More: How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
How to file a claim for roof leaks
Filing a claim for roof leaks is easy — most insurers let you file one online or on the phone. You’ll typically need to follow these steps:
- Start by assessing the damage. Take photos of the damage and provide any documentation to support the cause of the leak, such as pictures of a tree that fell on your roof after a storm.
- Contact your insurance provider and file a claim. Your insurer will inform you how it processes claims and provide you with the forms needed to submit one. Answer the questions fully and in as much detail as possible. Also, keep in mind that your insurance carrier may have a required deadline for you to submit the claim form.
- Wait for the insurance adjuster. Once your insurer receives the claim, it’ll send an adjuster to inspect your roof and validate the details of your claim. The adjuster will provide an estimate of how much your insurance provider should cover for the repairs.
- Receive the settlement and make your repairs. The insurance adjuster will submit a report on your claim. Depending on your insurer and policy, you’ll be issued a check to make the repairs, or the payment could go directly to the contractor.
Keep Reading: Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
The Credible marketplace, which includes insurance services by Young Alfred, makes it easy to find a carrier and policy that’s right for you.
Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.