Roof Damage and Homeowners Insurance – What Does it Cover?
As a general rule, homeowners must maintain their home. This includes things like the roof. If you don’t properly maintain it, your homeowner’s insurance isn’t going to cover it. For example, if you neglect to maintain or repair your roof and you go past its ‘viable life’ your insurance won’t cover the replacement. However, if you are within the roof’s normal lifespan and experience a covered peril, you may be able to get coverage for roof repair and/or replacement.
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Maintenance is Important
We can’t stress this enough. Roof maintenance is important. For example, if you have a leaking roof, repair it right away. Your insurance may not cover the cost to repair it. But, it may cover the damages that result from the leaks.
Roof repair and maintenance fall under the homeowner’s responsibilities. If the adjuster can prove that you didn’t do your part in maintaining the roof, they could even deny your claim for damages as a result of a leaking roof.
It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, right? Homeowners should always take preventative measures when they own a home. The best thing you can do is hire a roof inspector on an annual basis. Have them look at your roof and determine its condition. If they notice issues, you can repair them right away rather than letting them worsen and become a larger issue.
The earlier that you address issues, the less likely it will be that you’ll need a complete roof replacement. This is what insurance companies look for. If you can prove that you had regular roof inspections and performed standard maintenance, you have a better chance of having your roof damage covered when it’s time to replace it.
When Do Insurance Companies Cover Roof Damage?
Typically, insurance companies only cover roof damage when a covered peril occurs. The most common include:
- Storm damage
- Hail damage
- Damage from snow or ice
- Damage from a hurricane
Read your particular policy to learn what your policy includes. In general, though, homeowners can get full or partial reimbursement of the cost of a new roof if any of the above occur.
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Are Wind and Hail Damages Covered?
Wind and hail damage are the most common reasons for roof claims, but they aren’t always covered. It depends on where you live and the type of policy you have. Insurance companies base their premiums on the risk of you filing a claim. If you live a high-wind area, such as Oklahoma, you may see more exclusions on your policy regarding wind and hail. You may also pay higher premiums because your risk of filing a claim will likely be higher.
Many insurance companies also look closely at the damage. If they feel only a small portion of the roof is damaged, they may consider the issue ‘cosmetic’ rather than functional. Cosmetic issues are often an exclusion in home insurance policies, which means you may not get the coverage you thought you’d get for the minor damage.
In fact, in some cases, it’s not worth filing the claim. If you get denied for a claim more than three times, it can give the insurance company the right to terminate your policy. It could also make it much more difficult to get a policy in the future.
Are Leaks Covered?
As we discussed above, your insurance may cover the damage that leaks cause, but will it cover the leaking roof itself? It depends on the reason. If you can prove that the leak occurred because of spontaneous damage beyond your control, it may be covered. Of course, the reason that the leak occurred must be covered in your policy too. For example, if hail isn’t a covered peril in your policy and you have hail damage that causes a leak, it won’t be covered.
You must also be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the leak didn’t’ occur because of a lack of maintenance. Insurance companies don’t cover issues that could have been prevented if you did your part. This can sometimes be a ‘grey’ area that causes you to have to fight the insurance company for coverage. Always keep a careful log of any maintenance that you do so that the insurance company can see that you did what you were supposed to do and that the leak isn’t your fault.
Getting insurance coverage for roof damage can be difficult, but it’s possible. It’s very important that you do your part in maintaining the roof and getting it inspected. This way if something sudden does occur, you can prove that you did what was necessary to keep the roof in optimal shape.
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