Home Insurance

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

Homeowner’s insurance may cover roof damage under certain circumstances, especially if the damage is caused by an accident.

AdobeStock 323341212

Depending on how it occurred, damage to your roof may be covered by homeowner’s insurance. The cost of roof repairs may be covered by homeowners insurance if hail or a fallen tree damages your roof. You must read your homeowner’s insurance policy thoroughly for its inclusions and exclusions. When determining whether your roof damage is covered, note the following things. 

What Kind of Roof Damage Is Covered By Insurance?

Each homeowner’s policy has a list of perils that are included and excluded. A standard homeowner’s policy includes:

  1. Lightning, fire, or smoke damage
  2. Weight of rain, snow, ice, sleet
  3. Windstorms
  4. Hail 
  5. Hurricanes and tornadoes

One essential element of roof damage being covered by insurance is that it must be accidental and sudden. Wear and tear are always excluded. Another common exclusion is cosmetic damage, so knowing the difference between that and damage that needs repair is vital. Damage from your property and animals is also usually excluded. 

Several of the most common ways your roof can be damaged are covered, including:

  • Tree damage – Your homeowner’s policy will usually repair or replace your roof damaged by a fallen tree. However, if the tree is your own and there is evidence that the tree was rotting and you did not prevent the damage, the claim could be denied. 
  • Falling object damage – While falling objects may not be typical, they happen. If an aircraft or explosion causes an object to fall on your roof, your policy will cover the repair. 
  • Storm damage – Many policies provide coverage for wind and hail damage unless you live in a state where these events are common. If you live in a state where tornadoes and hurricanes happen frequently, you may have a separate deductible to meet for these events. Roof damage caused by the weight of snow, ice, or rain is also covered. 
  • Fire damage – A fire is not something a homeowner wants even to consider, but the reality is that it does happen. Fire damage is undoubtedly covered under your homeowner’s policy, with some exceptions. If you live in an area likely to have wildfires or purposely start a fire, it may be excluded from your standard policy. 

What Kind of Roof Damage Is Not Covered By Insurance?

Some common exclusions include:

  • Natural disaster damage – While many policies include coverage for disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, some are excluded. Earthquakes and floods are not covered, and if you need coverage for these perils, you will have to purchase a separate policy. When these natural disasters occur, the chance of only the roof being damaged is slim. 
  • Cosmetic damage – Cosmetic damage to your roof is usually excluded from a homeowner’s policy. Even if hail–typically a covered peril–damages your roof, it could be considered cosmetic if it only affects the look of your shingles and not the protection they offer. 
  • Pest damage – Animals or pests, such as mice, rats, squirrels, or even birds that may cause damage to your roof, are usually excluded. If you hear or see any pests on your roof or in your gutters, it is good to hire an exterminator to prevent significant damage to your roof. 
  • Wear and tear damage – An insurance company is not in the business of replacing your roof just because it is old. A roof’s coverage is highly affected by its age, and if you have an old roof, it could affect your coverage negatively.

When applying for a homeowner’s insurance policy, many insurance companies will require an inspection if your roof is over 20 years old, with many declining to offer coverage. If carriers provide coverage, they’ll specify it’s only covered at its actual cash value. Actual cash value means the company will depreciate it, so you could still have to pay for some of it out of pocket. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks and Other Collateral Damage?

While flood damage and wear and tear are excluded, there may be instances where a leaky roof warrants coverage. If your roof is damaged and leaks onto your personal belongings, the personal property section of your homeowner’s insurance policy will replace them. However, the policy wouldn’t cover the roof damage if it is an excluded peril like a flood. 

How Your Roof’s Age and Condition May Affect Your Homeowners Coverage

As the property owner, you are responsible for properly maintaining your roof and knowing how long the materials last. Additionally, you should hire licensed professionals to perform regular roof inspections to protect your roof. Some roofing companies will inspect a roof for free so that you hopefully hire them for any repairs. 

The hope is to have a roof that is not old and in excellent condition to be entirely replaced. However, there will be times when the insurance carrier pays for the roof repair or replacement using an actual cash value basis. Actual cash value takes depreciation into account, so the carrier could only reimburse you for a fraction of what you need. While this is better than nothing, it can be a financial burden.

General Protection You Can Do For Your Roof 

Be sure to maintain a clean roof that doesn’t collect water or hold debris. Trim trees that are touching or hanging over the roof. Check your roof after a big storm or a snowfall to see if the shingles and gutters are in proper shape. Be sure that your home and roof are up to code if you live in a windy or natural disaster-prone area.

You can also consider using shingles that may be designed for more impactful damage. There are options for shingles that are resistant to cosmetic damage as well. Also, some insurance companies will offer discounts when certain types of shingles like these are used. 

How to File a Claim for Roof Repair

Contact your insurance company as soon as you notice damage to your roof. Follow these steps if you want your insurance company to pay for a new roof:

  • Call your insurance company for an inspection to increase your chances of having your roof covered.
  • Get as many documents ready before they arrive, such as a copy of your current home insurance policy, an inspection report, receipts for any repair work you did, and photos of any damage you experienced. 
  • Submit a claim with your insurance company. They will then dispatch an adjuster to inspect the damage and offer their professional assessment.
  • If your claim is approved, the insurance company will reimburse you minus your deductible.
  • If your claim is declined, you may have to provide more evidence to get reimbursed for the roof repair or replacement. Note that it is always a good idea to take pictures of your home/roof while it’s in good shape, as before-and-after photos can help make a case for your claim.