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Homeowners insurance may be like manna from heaven when things go wrong, but insurance policies can be difficult to understand. Unless you speak legalese fluently, figuring out precisely what your homeowners policy covers can take time. To help save you time, we'll cover when homeowners insurance covers roof damage and what happens if the roof leaks.
The typical homeowners insurance policy includes "dwelling coverage." Dwelling coverage helps protect the homeowner from loss when the home's structure is damaged, and that includes the roof. Major disasters -- like damage due to a fire or tornado -- are covered. So if a bad storm moves through the neighborhood and knocks a tree on the homeowner's roof, that would be covered. If the storm strips the roof of its shingles, that would be covered too.
There are two important things to remember:
The quick answer is maybe. It ultimately depends on why the roof is leaking. Let's say the roof of a home is damaged by a hail storm and springs a leak. In that case, the repairs would be covered (unless the policy has a wind or hail exclusion).
Now, say a roof leak occurs because the homeowner failed to conduct routine maintenance or because the roof is old and ready to be replaced. Those leaks are unlikely to be covered.
In a nutshell: If a leak can be traced back to lack of maintenance or age of the roof, the leaking roof is probably not covered. If the leaks are due to wind, hail, or other weather event, they probably will be covered.
Yes, if a homeowner has roof replacement coverage, their insurer will replace the roof (as long as it's not due to normal wear and tear). The caveat is this: A homeowner must purchase a policy that includes roof replacement coverage and not assume that it's included in every policy.
It's natural for homeowners to shop around for the best policy rates. Sometimes, though, a low rate comes at the expense of coverage they need. For example, a cheap homeowners insurance policy may limit how much the insurance company will pay toward a new roof. If a homeowner is interested in a policy that covers the total replacement cost of a roof (minus their deductible) they should make that clear to their insurance agent before purchasing a policy.
It's important to read a policy before signing on. Here's why: Events outside a homeowner's control -- like fire or vandalism -- are almost always covered, and damage from extreme weather events is usually covered. It's words like "almost always" and "usually" that should give a homeowner pause. Before purchasing a policy, homeowners need to read what is (and is not) covered. The costs of homeowners insurance vary, depending on the level of coverage desired. While comprehensive coverage may cost more upfront, it can save the homeowner thousands of dollars in the event of a claim.
Most homeowners policies do cover wind and hail damage. That said, in areas of the country where both wind and hail damage are common, more companies are setting limits on how much they're willing to pay or excluding them from their homeowners policies entirely. For example, USAA Insurance excludes wind or hail coverage in coastal areas of Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.
The cost of repairing a roof depends on the severity of the damage. According to Home Advisor, the average cost to make repairs is $921, and the average homeowner spends around $8,369 to install a new roof. That, of course, depends on the size of the home. When insurance covers the repairs or replacement, all the homeowner is out is the deductible.
When filing a homeowners insurance claim for roof damage, a homeowner should take the following steps:
Take as many pictures as possible of the damage. And if possible, take photos of what caused the damage (for example, a fallen tree on the roof). Ideally, take these photos from inside the house. Never climb up on a roof that may be damaged or go out in the middle of a storm.
If it is possible to do so safely, throw a tarp over the impacted area of the roof to prevent further damage to the home. If it is not safe, definitely skip this step. Save receipts for anything purchased, including tarps.
Call the insurance company as soon as possible to report the loss.
Submit any paperwork provided by the insurer. The faster the paperwork is returned, the faster the company can get to work on the claim.
Plan to be home to meet with the insurance adjuster, explain what happened, and answer any potential questions.
Insurance companies must mail a formal letter explaining their reasons for the denial. If it was denied due to a legitimate reason (like the policy had lapsed, or the loss was specifically excluded from coverage), there's nothing more that can be done. However, if the homeowner did nothing wrong and it appears the claim should have been paid, they should:
And finally, if it still appears that the insurance company should have covered the loss but did not, the homeowner has the option of hiring a qualified attorney and suing the insurer.
Some types of roofs are less expensive to insure than others. These types of roofs tend to earn a discounted premium. And there are some roofs that are so risky to insure that it can be tough (if not impossible) to secure coverage. So, yes, there are roof requirements for homeowners insurance. Here are some roof types that easily meet insurance requirements:
There are several scenarios under which an insurer might refuse to insure a roof or may deny a claim. They include:
Typically, the newer the roof, the less expensive it is to insure. On the other hand, an old roof (20 years or more) may not qualify for coverage.
For example, if a homeowner was setting off fireworks in the yard and that caused the roof to catch on fire, the loss would not be covered. If their teenagers were playing around on the roof and someone fell through -- will homeowners insurance cover a new roof? Probably not.
For example, untreated wood shingle roofs have a reputation for easily catching fire, and insurers are likely to limit their coverage or refuse to insure the roof.
Events like earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, pest infestation, war or government action, and nuclear explosions are almost always excluded from homeowners insurance policies. So if a roof is damaged in a landslide, the homeowner is out of luck.
The takeaway lesson here is that a homeowner is responsible for making sure the homeowners policy they choose includes all the coverage they're looking for, including roof coverage. The best way to make that happen is to make a list of all the things they're looking for in a policy and compare that list to the policy they are offered. The wisest way to go about buying homeowners insurance is to purchase the highest level of coverage they can afford.
Deductibles run the gamut, depending on what the homeowner chooses. However, the most common roof deductible is $1,000.
If a homeowner does not have adequate insurance on their roof and can't afford to replace it themselves, they may want to look into a personal loan or home equity loan to cover the expense.
It depends on the insurance company. Some will, but will charge a higher policy premium. Others will refuse to write a policy.
It's possible your insurance premium will increase a bit after getting a new roof. It depends, in part, if this is your first claim. If you don't have a history of making claims, there's less chance that your rate will increase. Even if it does, it will probably be by very little.
If the leak is due to an insured event (like a lightning storm), take pictures of the leak, call your insurance company, file a claim, and schedule an appointment with an adjuster. If you purchase anything to slow the damage of the leak (like a tarp), keep the receipts for the insurance company.
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