Your roof is one of your home’s most important systems, and damage to it can lead to costly problems (Think: Rot and mold). Thankfully, your home insurance may cover roof repair and replacement in several situations. Let’s take a closer look at how roof coverage works and what type of damage is usually covered.
How roof coverage works
The cause of your roof damage is the answer to whether your home insurance covers it. Roof leaks can be caused by various problems, from severe weather to age to simple wear and tear. When it comes to your insurance, sudden, accidental damage is typically covered, while regular maintenance issues are not.
Coverage for your roof is part of your home insurance policy's dwelling coverage (Coverage A). This helps pay for repairs or to rebuild your home's physical structure, like its:
Roof coverage only kicks in, however, if a covered incident, or peril, causes the damage.
What type of roof damage is usually covered (and what's not)?
Home insurance policies typically cover physical damage to your roof on either a named-perils or open-perils basis. A named-peril policy offers narrower protection because it lists specific events that it covers.
For example, let’s say you have a named-perils policy that covers wind. If wind blows a tree branch through your roof, then your insurance company likely covers your claim. But if a peril that’s not listed in your policy causes roof damage, then your claim would probably be denied.
Named-perils policies typically cover damage from:
Fire and smoke.
Windstorms and hail.
Vandalism or malicious mischief.
Damage from an aircraft or vehicle.
Weight of ice, snow, or sleet; or water damage due to ice, snow, or sleet.
Accidental water overflow or steam.
Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of certain household systems.
Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current.
Other homeowners policies are written with open-perils coverage. These policies cover all perils that aren’t covered or excluded. Standard exclusions can vary, but most open-perils policies exclude coverage for damage caused by floods, war, intentional acts, earthquakes, and more.
Either way, homeowners policies usually don't cover problems that occur due to normal wear and tear or over time. What's more, you probably won't have coverage if the damage that occurs could have been prevented with regular maintenance.
Does home insurance cover wind damage to a roof?
Wind is a peril that many home insurance policies do cover. However, policies in some states explicitly exclude windstorm damage from coverage. In other cases, wind damage might be covered but subject to a separate wind/hail deductible.
Does home insurance cover a roof leak?
As with more types of damage, home insurance policies cover roof leaks if a covered peril causes it. Take hail damage as an example. It’s a standard covered peril, so if a hailstorm causes your roof leak, then your policy would likely help with the necessary repairs.
This is also true of your belongings. If any of the contents of your home are damaged or destroyed because of a covered roof leak, the personal property coverage (Coverage C) in your home insurance policy can help pay for repairing or replacing your damaged possessions.
But your home insurance policy doesn't cover damage if the leak was caused by normal wear and tear or improper maintenance. Suppose you've failed to notice a leak for several months, causing damage to worsen. In that circumstance, your insurance company probably won't cover all of the damage that could have been prevented had you been alert to the condition of your home and noticed the leak earlier.
What makes a roof uninsurable?
If your roof is older when you purchase your policy, an insurance company may refuse to cover the roof fully. It may also ask for an inspection to ensure that your roof can withstand the elements. But if your roof is older, already damaged, or has not been adequately maintained, then an insurance company may even decline to offer coverage altogether.
Unique roof coverage options from Kin
In addition to standard homeowners insurance policies, we offer a unique policy called House & Property insurance, which can help alleviate concerns about roof damage coverage even if you rent out your home or do not occupy it for long periods.
Much like a standard home policy, the base House & Property policy insures your home, attached structures, and belongings on an open-perils basis. Currently available in five states, this policy is appropriate for people who:
Live in their homes most of the year and are the primary resident.
Rent out their entire homes for some or all of the year.
Rent out a portion of their homes.
All Kin members can get their older roofs insured through a roof surfacing payment schedule (RSPS) endorsement. In exchange for a premium discount, an RSPS endorsement changes the claims payment so it’s based on your roof’s age and surface materials, rather than on a replacement cost basis.
Insuring your roof with an RSPS endorsement gives you the essential coverage you need at a discounted price. Moreover, an RSPS endorsement only applies to wind or hail damage to the roof. Other covered damages are paid at the replacement cost value.
How to make a roof claim?
The first thing you want to do when you sustain roof damage is to do whatever you can to stop further damage from happening. However, only take steps to mitigate your damage if you can do so safely.
Please don’t take this to mean that you should get on your roof. Either find a professional or contact your insurer. Most insurance companies will send someone out to your house to put a tarp on the roof.
Next, you can begin the claim process by contacting your insurance company by phone, email, or online. (Kin members – you can always file your claim online.) Be sure to have your policy number ready and photos of the damage, if you can get any. You'll be assigned a claims specialist who can inspect your damage and explain the available coverage.
Having coverage doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t pay anything out of pocket. Most policies have a deductible to pay before coverage kicks in, and your policy's applicable coverage limits will also apply. Any repair or replacement costs exceeding these limits become your responsibility.
How to protect your roof from damage
Keeping your roof in good condition can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. An annual roof inspection conducted by a professional is one of the best ways to protect your roof from damage.
According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, a roof inspection typically begins inside your home. The inspector checks for sagging, signs of water damage or leaking, dark spots and trails, or outside light showing through the roof.
Your exterior inspection should entail a search for damaged flashing, missing shingles, curling, blistering, buckling, rotting, and algae growth. Other signs of roof damage include:
Cracked, torn, bald, or missing shingles.
Loose material or wear around chimneys, vents, pipes, or other penetrations.
Excessive shingle granules in the gutters.
Signs of moisture, rot, or mold.
Damage can look different depending on your roof materials and where you live. For instance, a cedar roof often splits and falls apart in dry climates, but gets mossy in moist climates.
Ultimately, a roof in good condition can usually withstand weather and may sustain less damage in a storm than an older or poorly cared-for roof. In addition to regular inspections, be sure to prune nearby trees and keep your gutters clean to protect your roof from unnecessary damage.