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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Updated Oct 12, 2022

Updated Oct 12, 2022

Home > Roofing > Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

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Most home insurance companies will cover a range of roof leaks if they’ve been caused by extreme weather. However, you’ll have to inspect your given insurance policy in the event of damage to confirm this.

If unchecked, roof leaks can cause untold damage to your roof underlayment, attic, and home. Water damage due to faulty shingles or holes in your roof, older roofing materials, or other similar issues will prove to be a costly repair but is far better if caught early on. 

Home Insurance Roof Damage Coverage Limits

All home insurance policies will have decided limits for covered peril. These include windstorms, hailstorms, fire damage, and fallen tree limbs. You’ll have to prove the cause of the leak before moving ahead with any claims.

Lack of Maintenance

Insurance coverage will always have exclusions that you should be aware of. Roof damage due to lack of maintenance or general negligence will not be covered. If you’ve failed to do your due diligence and your roof has developed a leak due to accumulated wear and tear, then a standard homeowners insurance policy won’t help you.

Storm Damage

Hail damage, lightning, fallen tree limbs, wind damage, and similar open perils are all covered by homeowners insurance. Beyond your set insurance deductible, many plans will be able to reimburse you for the actual cash value of any required repairs.

Vandalism

Since it is outside of your control, damage due to vandalism is covered on some homeowners’ policies. You’ll have to inspect your plan to be sure of your exact coverage in this instance, however.

Damage from Pests

Any wildlife or pest infestations, if left for too long, will not be covered by most homeowners’ policies. For this reason, frequent roof and attic inspections (at least once every six months) are necessary. Doing so can help you to spot issues immediately and to prevent further damage.

How to Find a Roof Leak

The most obvious signs of a leaking roof are water stains on your ceilings, musty smells coming from the attic, or the sound of dripping water. Finding the exact location of any roofing leak can be difficult but is doable with the proper help.

Inspect your Attic

In the wake of a particularly violent rain or hailstorm — one violent enough to immediately cause damage — a roof leak may be a bit more obvious. Immediately following such an event, you’ll likely be able to go into your attic space and see the exact source of a leak. If you know that solid objects have impacted your roof, we recommend always checking your attic once the severe weather has passed.

Simulate Rain

If you can’t find the source of the leak, then you should enlist the help of a family member or friend for this step. With one of you inside your attic, the other should spray down the roof with a garden hose. Follow a defined progression from section to section while keeping an open line of communication.

Before moving on, you should hold over each roof section for at least ten to 15 seconds. You should be on the phone with your assistant while doing this for prompt communication and to ensure that you don’t waste any water.

Vent pipes, skylights, chimneys, and other similar features are good places to begin your search for a leak.

What To Do When You Have a Roof Leak

Clear the Area

If you use your attic as a storage area, you should move any items away from the affected area. This will allow you to see the damage’s extent and effectively work to contain the leak.

Contain Existing Water

Place a bucket under the leak to catch any water that gets through your existing roofing. You should also wipe up any existing leakage on your attic floor. If any roofing insulation has absorbed water, then you should remove that as well. This is a vital step toward preventing mold buildup and water damage.

Bucket to contain roof leak

Tarp Roof

After you’ve taken photos of all existing damage, then you should use a ladder to access your roof and put a tarp over the affected areas. Once you have dry conditions, the following ladder heights will correspond to your roof height:

  • 17-21 feet: 28-foot ladder
  • 21-25 feet: 32-foot ladder
  • 25-28 feet: 36-foot ladder
  • 28-31 feet: 40-foot ladder

Call Roofers

Contact roofing companies near you to get written quotes and estimates for repairs. Your insurance provider cannot accurately assess the damage and associated payouts without an itemized list of charges, from labor to materials.

No matter the type of roof you have, you should be able to get a line-item list of what your costs could be.

Steps for Filing an Insurance Claim for a Roof Leak

Quick action is needed once you suspect you have a roof leak. Follow these steps to file a successful roof claim and have some of your costs reimbursed. Even if you think you may be able to repair any damage on your own, paying for a professional roofer is the best way to get any kind of reimbursement for the project.

Find the Source of the Leak

Once it’s apparent that your roof has sprung a leak, you should find the exact source(s) of leakage in your roof. Use the above steps as a guide.

Roof with curled shingles
Some roofing damage, like curled-up shingles, are more subtle but should be easy to spot with routine inspections of your roof.

Review Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy

Each homeowners insurance policy will cover a slightly varied range of repairs and damage. If your leak was caused by extreme weather, you’d almost always be eligible for some kind of homeowners insurance claim.

Get an Estimate from a Roofing Contractor

If you’ve determined that your coverage is extensive enough to offer relief, you should get an itemized estimate from a local roofer. Look into the best roofing options in your area before proceeding forward.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

After you’ve collected an estimate, you should contact your insurance provider. Whether they have an online claims portal or require that you contact them via phone, handling this step with speed will be important. We recommend moving forward with this step as soon as you have an estimate in hand.

Roof Replacement vs. Roof Repair

Here, we’ve outlined the major costs associated with each different type of roof. Roofing repair costs will depend on the severity of the damage, roofing material, time of year, and ease of access to your roof. If your roof underlayment and decking are damaged, you can expect higher costs.

Average roofing repair costs will range from $500 to $2,500, while roofing replacement costs can begin at around $8,000 for an asphalt shingle roof and exceed $25,000 for even lower-grade metal roofing.

Roofing MaterialMaterial Cost (Per Square Foot)Installation Cost (Per Square Foot)
Asphalt Shingles$2 to $4$2 to $3.50
Slate$10 to $22$6 to $10
Metal$1.50 to $25$4.50 to $9
Wood Shakes and Shingles$3 to $5.50$5 to $10
Clay$3 to $8$4 to $16
TPO$2 to $3.50 $3.50 to $5.25

Preventing Major Roofing Issues

Engaging in some preventative measures can save you time and money in the long run. Just as you should report a claim as soon as possible, you should be prompt and up-to-date with any maintenance and prevention.

Conduct Regular Roof Inspections

Every six months or so, you should do thorough visual inspections around the outside footprint of your home. Using the guide above, get on a ladder to inspect your roof closer if anything seems out of place. Make a note of any potential gaps in your existing roofing.

Next, inspect your roof from your attic or crawlspace. Start around any noted problem areas and work outwards from there. Be sure to maintain suitable lighting for your inspection for safety and effectiveness.

Install Quality Gutters

Having the right gutters and gutter guards on your home will keep water away from your fascia and soffit and your roof decking. Paying for quality gutters and installation upfront is a great way to ensure the long-term health of your roof.

Monitor Warranties

Purchasing all major roofing components from the same manufacturer is the primary way to avoid competing warranties. Especially if you initially installed your roof on your own, following through on this step will help to ensure a more straightforward roof build.

Key Takeaways

If you’re lucky enough to have a homeowners insurance policy when disaster strikes, it will serve you well to be fully up-to-date on the exact scope of your coverage. When you sign a contract for any insurance policy, maintain either a hard copy or save a PDF of your policy to your personal computer. 

Having an offline copy of this in any form for quick reference will be the first step toward speedy repairs and reimbursement. Roofing maintenance or replacement can be one of your home’s most expensive overall project categories. Having a contingency plan ready in case of unexpected damage will make it far easier to deal with.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I negotiate with my insurance agent?

While you won’t have much room to negotiate when initially getting your homeowners’ insurance policy, you’ll be able to negotiate your eventual claim with your insurance agent. If you feel that a given claim will not be sufficient to handle your roofing needs, then you should stick to the facts regarding the given damage.

Reiterate why a given claim falls within your particular policy. While this could affect the premiums for your next policy term, having the cost of roofing be largely covered will far outweigh that drawback.

How do I prove the source of my roof damage to my insurance adjuster?

Provide an itemized estimate from a local roofing company. This should include the source and scope of any damage they find, along with material and labor costs. If your insurance adjuster approves your claim, then this will be used as a metric to fulfill it.

Will my insurance company provide for the full cost of repairs?

If your insurance company approves your claim, you will be reimbursed once you’ve exceeded your deductible. For example, if your deductible is $1,500, but your roof damage is assessed at $10,000 total, your insurance will pay out $8,500 for an approved claim.

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