As a homeowner, you may find yourself wondering what roof repairs are covered by your insurance policy. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to understand your coverage and ensure that your claim is successful. Let’s dive in.
Common Causes of Roof Damage
Understanding the most common causes of roof damage is essential for determining if your insurance policy will cover repairs. Here are some common culprits:
- Storms and Severe Weather: Periods of heavy rain, hail, and strong winds can cause significant damage to your roof, leading to leaks and structural issues.
- Tree Damage: Falling tree limbs or branches can puncture, crack, or displace roofing materials.
- Fire: Accidental fires can cause extensive damage to your roof, often necessitating complete replacement.
- Vandalism and Theft: Acts of vandalism or theft can lead to damaged roofing materials, making your home vulnerable to water damage.
- Age and Wear: Over time, roofing materials will naturally deteriorate, leading to potential leaks and structural issues.
Types of Roof Repairs Covered by Insurance
While every insurance policy is different, most standard homeowners’ policies will cover the following types of roof repairs:
- Storm and Weather-Related Damage: Most policies cover damage caused by storms, hail, wind, and other weather-related events.
- Fire Damage: Insurance typically covers the cost of repairing or replacing your roof if it is damaged in a fire.
- Vandalism and Theft: If your roof is damaged due to acts of vandalism or theft, your policy should cover the cost of repairs.
- Sudden and Accidental Damage: Most policies cover damage that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, such as a tree limb falling on your roof.
A storm-related roof repair refers to damage sustained by a roof due to extreme weather conditions. As specialists in roof repair, we often encounter storm damage claims, particularly those that are rejected by insurance companies. Through our experience, we have identified a crucial distinction when it comes to insurance assessments for storm-related roof repairs.
The primary factor that determines whether a roof repair is considered “storm-related” lies in the cause of the damage. If the roof has been directly damaged by wind, hail, or falling objects, then the insurance company will typically classify it as storm-related, and the claim will likely be approved. However, if the leak is not caused by any of these factors, it is deemed as a ‘roof maintenance’ issue, which falls solely under the homeowner’s responsibility.
It is essential to note that even if a roof leak is not classified as storm-related, water damage to the interior of a house resulting from a storm event can still be considered storm-related. In such cases, insurance claims for internal repairs are usually approved.
Exclusions and Limitations
It’s important to be aware of the exclusions and limitations of your insurance policy. Common exclusions include:
- Poor Maintenance: Insurance companies typically won’t cover damage resulting from poor maintenance or neglect.
- Age-Related Wear and Tear: Normal wear and tear or deterioration due to age are usually not covered.
- Certain Roofing Materials: Some policies exclude specific roofing materials, such as wood shakes or metal roofs.
- Cosmetic Damage: If the damage is purely cosmetic and does not affect the roof’s functionality, it may not be covered.
For example, when reading the Product Disclosure Statement for an NRMA Home Insurance Policy we can see that it states: You are not covered under any section of this Policy for loss, damage, liability, injury or death caused by or arising from: You not maintaining Your Home in good repair and condition including You not ensuring Your Home is watertight, structurally sound, secure and well-maintained.
The policy also states exclusions around:
- You not maintaining Your Site in good repair and condition.
- faulty design or workmanship
- previous damage that has not been repaired
- rust, corrosion, gradual deterioration, depreciation, wear or tear.
This means that it is important that you perform regular maintenance activities on your roof to ensure it is in good conditions at all times, failing to do so may void any insurance claims into the future.
Similar to the NRMA Policy, Budget Direct also states within their PDS, under the Defects, Structural Faults, or Design Faults section that: “You are not covered for loss, damage, or any legal liability you incur caused by a defect, a structural fault, or design fault that you knew about, or should reasonably have known about, and was either:
- caused by you not taking reasonable care of the home or contents
- not fixed by you within a reasonable time before the loss or damage occurred”
Under their ‘Poor Condition’ section they state:
“You are not covered for loss or damage you incur because:
- you have not done building work to the home requested by a relevant authority before the loss or damage occurred; or
- you have not kept the home or contents in good condition and existing defects or faults contributed to or caused the loss or damage.”
Understanding Roof Maintenance from an Insurance Company’s Perspective
To comprehend the concept of roof maintenance according to insurance companies, it is helpful to first identify what they do NOT consider as roof maintenance. The following situations are generally classified as storm events by insurance companies:
- Roof damage caused by hailstones
- Debris blown onto roofs by strong winds, breaking roof tiles
- High winds dislodging the roof or parts of it
Any other situations are typically classified as ‘roof maintenance issues,’ which may lead to claim rejections. Some common roof maintenance issues include:
- Blocked gutters
- Blocked roof valleys
- Rusty roof or gutters
- Cracked, or torn flashings
- Accumulation of leaves or other debris on the roof
Additionally, roofing problems resulting from faulty installation are also categorised under ‘roof maintenance.’ Examples of such issues are:
- Insufficient roof pitch
- Incorrectly installed flashings
- Inadequate box gutter sizing
By understanding the distinction between storm-related events and roof maintenance issues, homeowners can better manage their expectations when filing insurance claims for roof repairs.
Filing a Successful Insurance Claim
To maximise your chances of a successful insurance claim, follow these steps:
- Document the Damage: Take photos and videos of the damage, and make a detailed list of affected areas.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible, and follow their guidance on next steps.
- Get a Professional Assessment: Hire a reputable roofing plumber to inspect the damage and provide a written estimate for repairs or replacement.
- Submit Your Claim: Compile all documentation, including photos, videos, and the contractor’s estimate, and submit your claim to the insurance company.
- Negotiate with Your Insurer: If necessary, be prepared to negotiate with your insurance company to ensure that you receive fair compensation for the necessary repairs.
- Keep Records: Retain all records related to the claim, including receipts, invoices, and correspondence with the insurance company, in case of any disputes.
Preventative Measures to Protect Your Roof
Taking preventative measures can help reduce the likelihood of roof damage and the need for insurance claims. Here are some tips:
- Perform Regular Inspections: Inspect your roof at least twice a year, as well as after major storms, to identify and address potential issues.
- Trim Nearby Trees: Keep tree limbs and branches trimmed to reduce the risk of damage during storms.
- Ensure Proper Ventilation and Insulation: A well-ventilated and insulated attic helps prevent ice dams and other issues that can lead to roof damage.
- Clean Gutters and Downspouts: Regularly clean your gutters and downspouts to prevent water damage caused by clogged or overflowing gutters.
- Choose Durable Roofing Materials: If you’re replacing your roof, opt for durable materials designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.