Water may be an essential element needed for the human body to thrive, but a home can result in a total loss when exposed to excess moisture due to a roof leak. This obstruction can occur because of inclement weather, improper roof installation, negligence, and more, and unfortunately, it can only lead to more issues down the road.
As Angie’s List described it, the smallest roof leak can damage your home in various ways, causing attic and ceiling damage, interior mold and mildew, potential health risks from mold, fire hazards from water damage, slip and fall risks, higher utility bills, and structural integrity.
As you can see, a roof leak can be more than just a minor headache. It can compromise your health, sanity, and even your bank account. Because the severity of a roof leak can vary, the typical cost range you can expect to repair a leaky roof is between $345 and $1,325, according to HomeAdvisor.
Thankfully, roof damage in general (and leaks in particular) are typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy, but it depends on the cause of the leak. To avoid paying to repair the damage out of pocket, it’s important to check your policy and make sure you have coverage for roof leaks.
Below, we’ve highlighted what perils are generally covered by homeowners insurance, which ones are not, and ways to prepare for potential roof damage.
Perils Under Homeowners Insurance that Cause Roof Leaks
Most insurance policies will provide coverage if the roof is less than ten years old. However, age isn’t the only thing that determines potential coverage. Here are a few perils that are often covered by a homeowners insurance policy:
Falling trees and debris: Twigs, leaves, pine needles, other debris, and falling branches or trees caused by strong winds, storms, or other dangerous weather conditions can puncture the roof and lead to leaking and flooding that could cause mold and water damage.
Wind: Strong winds have the power to rip shingles from the roof, exposing the foundational layer to moisture. Sometimes, wind can lift a single shingle that’s out of sight, but this can be a bigger threat if it’s left unnoticed for too long.
Hail: Hailstorms can be incredibly destructive, damaging the roof of the home and making it easier for moisture to bypass shingles and enter into the attic. The size of hailstones can impact the amount of damage done to the home. Additionally, different types of shingles react differently to hail, but most insurance policies will cover the damage.
The weight of snow or ice: According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, fresh snow can range from 3 pounds per square inch for light, dry snow to 21 pounds for heavy, wet snow. USA Today reports that most roofs can withstand 20 pounds per square foot of snow before it becomes an issue. Thankfully, snow and ice are two perils homeowners insurance will likely cover in the event of a roof leak or total collapse.
Roof Leak Causes Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance
There are certain instances where you may have to pay out of pocket to repair roof leaks. Keep these issues in mind to avoid a stressful situation down the road:
Normal wear and tear: The age of your roof has a major impact on its ability to function as it should. Over time, roofing materials will deteriorate, likely from sun exposure, fluctuating temperatures, and inclement weather. Angie’s List said roofs are only meant to last between 20 and 30 years, so if yours has exceeded this time frame, it may be time to replace the roof altogether. Paying for repairs out of pocket (since homeowners insurance won’t cover normal wear and tear) won’t be worth it in the long-run if you have to keep fixing the problem every few years.
Negligence: In the event that you know something may be wrong with your roof and you refuse to take care of it before it turns into a disaster, your insurance policy won’t cover it. For example, if you notice a few shingles missing and you don’t repair them, or you place a blue tarp over the area instead, you will have to pay out of pocket for any water damage or mold that occurs.
Mold or fungus: Unfortunately, mold damage is usually not covered by homeowners insurance policies, although there may be some exceptions based on your provider. Roof leaks that lead to mold or fungus will not only damage the dwelling and reduce property value, but can also be harmful to the health and well-being of those living in your home.
Insects or animals: While animals and insects have their own natural habitats in nature, they might find comfort settling on top of your roof, which can lead to leaks and damage. According to Five Coat Roofing, honey bees can chew through shingles, raccoons can rip holes in the roof and reside in your attic, acidic bird droppings can eat away at shingles and sheathing of the roof, and termites can cause irreversible damage in the roof decking, rafters, and trusses. Some homeowners insurance policies may cover specific issues in relation to insects or animals, so it’s important to check your policy to see which named perils are covered.
Review your Homeowners Insurance Policy
As a homeowner, it’s vital that you carefully check over your insurance policy to get an understanding of which perils are included and excluded from your current coverage. Most homeowners insurance providers will cover roof repair and rebuild for actual cash value (ACV), but that’s not equal to replacement cost value (RCV). That said, the ACV is calculated after subtracting depreciation from the replacement cost, which means you likely won’t receive the full amount to pay for the repairs.
If your current policy doesn’t cover roof leaks, you may consider reaching out to your provider to see if they require or offer any add-on coverage options for specific situations, such as a hurricane or flood insurance, which are not typically included in a traditional homeowners insurance policy. Additional coverage can be the protection that saves the day in the event of a leaky roof.
Understanding Your Deductible
The deductible is something to keep in mind during your research as well. An insurance deductible is the amount of money you are expected to pay after filing a claim that will opt for the insurance coverage to kick in. The higher your deductible, the less you will spend in premiums over the course of the year, but this could affect you financially if a disaster does unexpectedly occur.
How to Prepare for Potential Damage
While roof damage caused by falling trees and inclement weather can’t always be stopped, there are ways to avoid a leaky roof otherwise.
A regular roof inspection to check for possible punctures, damp spots, and mold can prevent heavy damage and costly repairs down the road.
Make sure the attic ventilation isn’t blocked, as proper ventilation is necessary for keeping the roof’s structure and attic durable, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Always keep gutters and downspouts free of debris, as buildup can cause water backup that wreaks havoc on the shingles. Beyond cleaning your gutters frequently, it’s wise to keep trees and bushes a fair distance away from your home. Falling tree limbs and leaves could lead to the gutter backup that can be easily avoided.
Preparing your home for the worst can provide peace of mind in the event of a disaster. Consider investing in coverage from one of our best-rated homeowners insurance companies to protect your dwelling today.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.