Just this April 2020, over 130,000 people in Massachusetts lost power due to severe storms. Extreme winds and heavy rains uprooted trees, which then fell onto power lines. Almost ten thousand consumers had to sleep without power during that time.
As a Bay State resident yourself, you’ve likely noticed how bad weather now occurs more often in MA. It’s not only you, though; scientists say that the state is really getting rainier and hotter.
This now raises the vital question, “does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?”
After all, your roof is one of your first lines of defense against bad weather. As such, it’s the one exposed to environmental factors. If it starts to leak, you’d want to make sure your insurance will help pay to fix or replace it.
Otherwise, you may end up with a massive repair bill.
This post will give you a detailed explanation of homeowners insurance and roof coverage, so be sure to read on!
Table of Contents
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?
A homeowners insurance policy may cover roof damage if the problem resulted from an unavoidable event. For example, if someone vandalized your roof, your insurance should pay for the costs to fix it. If lightning hits the roof and damages it, your policy should also help cover the repair costs.
Another example is if your roof gets damaged by a tornado or a hurricane. In this case, your homeowners insurance may also help cover the costs to repair your roof.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?
Homeowners insurance may cover a roof leak, but this depends on the cause of the leak. Let’s say that a fire caused damages to your roof. The incident, in turn, led to your roof springing a leak.
In the above case, your homeowners insurance policy may help pay to fix the leak.
Do note that some homeowners policies may come with a wind or hail exclusion. If the leak occurs due to these exclusions, then the policy won’t cover the costs to fix or repair the roof.
Homeowners policies, in general, don’t cover damages that result from wear and tear. In addition, they exclude coverage for damages that occur due to a lack of maintenance.
In short, homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover most damages within your control. Instead, your coverage is there to help you pay for the repairs of accidental or sudden damages.
So, if your roof starts to leak due to a lack of maintenance, your homeowners policy won’t help pay to fix it.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Leaks From a Fallen Tree?
If the tree fell on your roof due to a sudden or accidental cause, then your policy may help pay to fix the leak. An example is if a hurricane uprooted an otherwise healthy tree and caused it to crash on your roof. Since a hurricane is outside of your control, then your policy should help cover the costs to fix the roof leak.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wind and Hail Damage to My Roof?
Homeowners policies usually provide protection for roof damages caused by tornadoes and hurricanes. For example, a hurricane ripped off shingles from your roof. In this case, your insurance policy should help pay to repair your roof.
Homeowners insurance policies, however, may not cover damages caused by wind or hail alone. If wind alone damages your roof, your policy may not help pay for its repairs.
Also, some insurers may not cover damages that are purely cosmetic. “Cosmetic” damages are those that only affect the appearance of the roof. These issues usually don’t have an impact on the function or the integrity of the roof.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Older Roofs?
The life span of roofs can range from a meager five years to a staggering 100 years or longer. This depends mostly on the material used, as well as proper maintenance. Slate roofs, however, are the longest-lasting, with a life span that can reach up to 150 years or more.
Premium slate shingles, by the way, are also among the most expensive roofing materials out there. It’s because of this that some homeowners insurance policies may not cover slate roofs.
In most other cases, homeowners policies may no longer provide coverage for old roofs. Once a roof reaches its life expectancy, an insurer may already exclude it from coverage. In some cases, insurance companies may reduce the amount of coverage on the roof.
Will My Policy Replace an Entire Roof If I Have Damage That’s Covered?
Depending on your location, insurers may provide replacement coverage for your roof. In other cases, you will only receive a reimbursement for the worth of the roof at the time it sustained damage. For example, if your roof’s value was $1,500 at the time it got damaged, your policy may only reimburse you for that amount.
Which Part of My Policy Covers My Roof?
The dwelling coverage is the portion of your policy that may help pay for roof repairs or damage. Overall, this is the part that pays for repairing or rebuilding the physical structure of a house.
What about damages to the roof of a garage or work shed? In this case, it’s the “other structures” portion of your policy that may help cover the costs to fix the roof.
Your policy may also provide coverage for personal property damaged by a roof leak. In this case, it’s the personal property coverage of your policy that may help pay for the repairs.
Limits to Roof Coverage
Aside from age, your homeowners insurance policy may also state other exclusions. The only issue is that insurers use jargon that may be too complex to understand.
This is why you may want to speak with an insurance agent. This way, the insurance expert can help explain what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.
To give you an idea, though, here are some of the typical limits or restrictions to roof coverage.
Wear and Tear
Most insurers won’t provide coverage for damages that occur due to wear and tear. This refers to the normal deterioration of the various parts of your house, such as the roof.
Wear and tear on your roof occur primarily due to its exposure to environmental factors. That’s why it’s critical to follow a regular roof maintenance plan. A professional roofer can help spot problems, such as early signs of leaks before they get bigger.
It’s also important to keep your roof and gutters clean and free of debris, such as leaves, twigs, and branches. This way, your roof (and the gutters) can keep directing water away from your home. Keeping them free of clogs also helps ensure that they don’t collapse due to the added weight of debris.
Many cases of roof leaks occur due to a lack of maintenance, such as routine clean-ups. Moss and lichen growths, for instance, can contribute to leaks. That’s because these plants can absorb and retain so much water.
Over time, the excess weight of these plants can affect the integrity of your roof. When this happens, your roof can become more prone to structural issues.
As a homeowner, proper home maintenance is one of your primary responsibilities. Part of that is ensuring that your roof is free of moss or any other debris that may cause is to wear down sooner. If your roof starts to leak due to any of these, your policy won’t help pay for the costs to repair or replace it.
That’s why you may want to schedule roof inspections at least once a year. Routine inspections can help you catch roof problems early on, and then get them fixed right away. In this way, you can prevent leaks from becoming too big and penetrating even your ceiling.
Pest and Vermin
Did you know that a mature colony of termites can eat up to 11 pounds of wood in just a month? However, things can get a lot worse, depending on how big the insect colony is. Colonies can have millions of termites, and the more there are, the more wood they can eat.
The thing is, the University of Massachusetts says that 90% of US homes have wood frames. That may indicate that up to nine in 10 houses are at risk of termite damage. What’s more, these pests are prevalent and widespread in the Bay State.
If these critters make their way into your home, they can damage not only your roof but your whole house. In this case, your homeowners insurance policy will not cover the costs to fix or replace your roof.
In general, homeowners policies won’t provide coverage for any type of pest-induced damage. These include problems caused by rodents, wood-boring beetles, and fire ants, among others.
How to File a Roof Claim and What to Expect
Before you file a roof claim, consider your deductible first. The deductible is the out-of-pocket cost that you need to pay before your coverage kicks in. If your deductible is $500, then you need to shoulder that first before your insurance starts to help.
If the damage to your roof is way more your deductible, then that’s a good time to consider filing a claim. Note, however, that filing claims may raise your risk of having higher premiums in the future.
After considering your deductible, here are the other steps you should take.
Get Repair Estimates from a Roof Contractor
Get in touch with at least three roofing companies or contractors and ask them for repair quotes. This should give you an idea of how much your overall roof repair costs will be. It will also help you determine if the repair cost is below (or above) your insurance deductible.
Get Your Roof Assessed Right Away
Once you have the roof repair quotes, schedule your roof for an assessment as soon as possible. Your roof may look fine from the outside, but it may have already developed issues that aren’t so visible. If you don’t get these problems fixed right away, they will only end up causing bigger leaks.
Putting off necessary roof repairs may put you at risk of losing coverage too. That’s because some insurers may already take that as a form of neglected maintenance.
Be sure to have the roofing expert explain the possible causes of the damage. Have the contractor put everything into writing too. This can also serve as proof that the roof damage was a result of a weather condition that your policy covers.
Confirm That Your Policy Covers Your Roof Damage
Next, review your homeowners policy to confirm that it provides coverage for the cause of the roof damage. If it is, contact your insurance company right away to let them know about your situation.
Your insurer may send an insurance adjuster to your home. The adjuster will then assess your roof to confirm the damage. From here, the insurance adjuster will provide you with an estimate of the repair costs.
You can then compare the estimates given by the adjuster with the ones you received from your local roofer. Make sure that they are equal before you finalize your claim agreement.
Let’s say you agree to the estimate given by the insurer’s adjuster. From here, you only need to wait for your insurance company to issue you with a check. You can then use this for the repairs of your roof, or if you already had it fixed, keep it as a reimbursement.
Protect Your Home With Adequate Homeowners Insurance Coverage
As you can see, there are many ways to answer the question, “does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?” There are a lot of variables, after all, that can affect the coverage of your roof. That’s why you should always review your policy to see what it covers and what it doesn’t.
Do you think that your current homeowners policy isn’t enough? If so, then please know that our team here at the LoPriore Insurance Agency can help. Feel free to get in touch with us now so we can assist you in exploring your home insurance options!