Roof Leak Coverage in Home Insurance

Roof leaks are one of the common causes of home insurance claims.


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Signs of roof leaks may be the following:

  • homeowners insurance averageBuckling shingles – shingles develop a ‘broken-back’ look as they lie horizontally. This could be caused by damaged felting beneath the shingles or by movement in the deck of the roof. Either of these may be caused by windstorms and heavy precipitation.
  • Curling shingles – when shingles develop a distinctive ‘curl’ at the bottom causing the roof to become ineffective in preventing leaks. The cause of this may be water absorption from the effects of weather.
  • Damaged flashing – the sealing material around pipes, valleys in the roof, and chimneys. This can occur through age or weather, allowing water to seep beneath, causing roof damage.
  • Loss of granules from roofing tiles – asphalt roofing tiles ordinarily have small granules covering their outer surface – these can be beaten off by heavy storms, hail, or wind allowing them to be deposited in gutters and at the bottom of water spouts. This indicates roof wear, which may affect the ability of the roof to hold water.
  • Missing shingles – these can be missing due to action of storm, wind, and precipitation, compromising the integrity of the roof.
  • Roof rot – this can usually be seen as a slight dip in the eaves or roof, indicating a softness in the structure.
  • Water stains on ceilings and walls indicating the leaking of water through the roof, possibly traveling down the rafters to affect the area beneath.

A caution you should observe is that many of these symptoms of roof leaks may also indicate wear, tear, and age on your roof.

If you see any of these symptoms, it is likely that you have a roof leak, so the next question is:

Is a roof leak covered under my home insurance policy?

The Special Form Home Policy provides coverage for the following perils:

  1. Fire, smoke, lightning, explosion
  2. Windstorm, hail, weight of ice, snow, and sleet
  3. Theft, vandalism, and vehicular damage
  4. Freezing, rupturing, or sudden and accidental overflow of plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, or a household appliance
  5. Trees and other falling objects

If you look at the perils covered, you can readily identify the ones that may damage your roof.

Wind, hail, and weight of ice, snow, and sleet are obvious problems that may cause wear and tear on a roof.

Freezing, rupturing, and sudden overflow can create a great deal of damage both within and without a building. Trees and falling objects damage roofs frequently. Many of us have had the experience of having had to remove a tree to avoid damage to the roof for insurance purposes.

A roof leak may be covered under your home insurance policy. The best approach you should take is to examine your home for the symptoms of leaks at least bi-annually to ensure you don’t inadvertently ignore these signs.

If you would prefer not to do this yourself, roofing companies and repair people will cheerfully give their estimate of any damage.

A recent hailstorm or heavy windstorm warrants a call to your insurance agent requesting the presence of an insurance adjustor to determine if there is a loss under the insurance policy and the extent of that damage.

Replacement Value or Actual Cash Value

When purchasing home insurance, be certain to pay attention to the terms of coverage. Here are the differences between replacement cost and actual cash value coverage:

  • Replacement cost coverage – This is the cost necessary to repair or replace the entire home, including the roof. You are required to insure the building to at least a percentage of the replacement cost.
  • Actual cash value – sometimes-called market value – The cost necessary to repair the entire home, taking into consideration the age, wear, and tear of the building.

Even though it is necessary to purchase insurance to cover the replacement cost of the building, replacement cost is the better choice.

What will happen to my insurance premiums after a roof claim?

roof leak coverageInsurance companies base their premiums on a ratio of loss to premium written. Other factors are included such as the costs of doing business, reserves needed to pay estimated claims in the future, and claims expenses.

Usually a single roof claim will not increase the premiums charged for your home insurance policy.

However, usually windstorms, hailstorms, sleet, heavy snow, and other such weather phenomena occur in widespread geographical areas.

In one area of the Eastern Plains of Colorado, a cluster of hailstorms struck the same area for three years in a row, causing major roof damage across the area for those three years.

In this case, most of the insurance companies in the area substantially raised their premiums and required higher deductibles.

Comparison-Shopping for Home Insurance

The individuals in eastern Colorado whose insurance premiums increased, of course, shopped for insurance at their next anniversary date. They recognized that their premiums would be higher the next year, but wanted to keep them as low as possible.

To do this, they acquired quotations from additional companies to compare premiums. All insurance companies writing insurance in the area were freshly aware of the hailstorm hazard in eastern Colorado, so the insurance premiums increased for all companies writing insurance in eastern Colorado.

When faced with outcomes such as this, the consumer needs to collect quotations from at least three different insurance companies. You can find the names of licensed companies in your state by consulting with your state’s insurance website.

To find this, go to the link provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website. Link to your state’s website there.

Examine the premiums and coverage from each of the insurance companies you have chosen. Follow up by examining each company’s financial status and complaint ratio, using the following tools:

Carefully examine amounts of coverage, perils covered, reputation of the insurance company, and policy provisions for each of your quotations before purchasing.

The process is time-consuming, but will save you money and a great deal of anxiety in the future.

Every year, examine your home insurance to be certain that it is competitive within the insurance market and that it reflects your needs. Be sure to compare quotes using the FREE tool below.