Updated August 6, 2021|5 min read
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Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home, including the cost of roof replacement or repairs if it's suddenly damaged. If your roof is damaged by fire, heavy winds, hail, or anything else that's covered by your policy, you’ll likely be reimbursed for the costs of a new one.
However, if it’s determined that your roof was damaged because of a lack of maintenance or general wear and tear, your insurance company likely won’t cover roof replacement or repairs. Coverage is also limited for roofs older than 20 years old; older roofs are typically insured at their actual cash value, meaning you’re only reimbursed for the roof’s value after 20+ years of depreciation have been factored into the payout.
If your roof is suddenly damaged, homeowners insurance will typically help cover the cost of replacing it
Damage to the roof of your garage or work shed is also covered by homeowners insurance
Certain types of roof damage, like general wear and tear or pest-induced cosmetic damage are not covered by homeowners insurance
Depending on what state you live in, you may need to pay a separate deductible when filing a claim for wind and hail damage
Homeowners insurance may pay to replace your roof, but only if it is damaged by a covered hazard, like fire or bad weather. If a tornado rips your roof off, for instance, you can file a claim with your homeowners insurance, pay your deductible, and then your insurer will kick in the remaining costs to replace your roof.
Below are some examples of covered perils that commonly damage or destroy roofs.
Weight of rain, ice, or snow
Fire and smoke
There are some exceptions and limitations to roof coverage, depending on the severity of the damage. For example, if a few shingles on your roof had slight nicks in them after a hail storm, your home insurance company may classify it as “cosmetic” damage — a common dwelling coverage exclusion.
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When it comes to roof coverage, age is a big factor, and time is not really on its side. During a home inspection, insurance adjusters make a special note of your roof’s age and quality. If you indicate that your roof is over 20 years old in your application or at renewal, most insurance companies will require it to pass an inspection. Other insurers simply won’t write new policies for homes with 15 to 20-year-old roofing, and if they do, they’ll specify that it’s only covered at its actual cash value.
Replacing a roof is expensive, but you may not have much of a choice if your roof is older — doing nothing could make it difficult to insure your home.
Wind and hail are two of the most common culprits of roof damage, and most of the time these hazards are covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. But some states that experience frequent wind and hailstorms — like Kansas and Oklahoma — will have to pay separate wind and hail deductibles.
If your roof is blown off in a bad storm and you have a wind deductible, for example, you’ll need to pay that instead of your regular deductible. Typically you are given the option to set your deductible at 1% to 10% of your home’s dwelling coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $300,000 and your wind and hail deductible is 1%, you’d have to pay $3,000 out of pocket before your insurer will cover the remainder of the roof and/or structural damage.
Damage from hurricane winds and tropical storms is covered by your policy but, like wind and hail damage in Tornado Alley, it’s common for insurers in coastal states to require a separate named storm or hurricane deductible. Hurricane deductibles may only “triggered” if a hurricane or tropical storm is officially named and declared by the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane deductibles can be 1% to 5% (but sometimes as high as 10%) of your home’s insured value.
There are specific instances when homeowners insurance won’t cover damage to your roof, and there are also times when it won’t cover your personal property if it was damaged along with your roof.
In terms of their propensity for damage and outright peskiness, squirrels are your roof’s version of kitchen cockroaches. They may be small, but they can cause a lot of expensive damage.
Will homeowners insurance cover the large holes that a family of squirrels gnawed on your roof, causing countless leaks and water damage? Typically not, since squirrel-inflicted loss, like other types of pest damage, is gradual and preventable with proper home maintenance.
But if a squirrel causes sudden damage — for example by gnawing on your home’s wiring and causing a fire, that would likely be covered.
Ice dam damage, like icicles and ice accumulation is a common rooftop peril, causing your roof to fall in and forming barriers around your gutter that can cause water overflow and subsequent leaking or a roof collapse.
Your dwelling coverage will typically cover roof damage caused by ice dams and water, but your personal property inside the home typically won’t be covered.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues. The onus is on you as the homeowner to handle the general upkeep of your property. So if a hole in your roof gradually gets worse over time and eventually causes severe damage, insurance won’t cover you.
Most basic homeowners insurance policies won’t cover cosmetic damage. If a hail or wind storm rips shingles off your roof you likely won’t be able to file a claim to replace them.
If you notice damage to your roof, be sure to contact your insurer immediately. To get insurance to pay for a new roof, you’ll want to do the following:
Hire a roofing company to make temporary repairs. Not only does roof damage create unwanted access points in your house, but you’re also risking further damage to everything inside.
Gather evidence of your claim — ideally before and after photos of your roof
File an insurance claim over the phone through your agent, or through your company’s website claims portal
Schedule an appointment with your insurance claims adjuster so they can survey the damage
Once your claim is approved, your insurer will reimburse you for the cost of roof repairs or replacement. You’ll first have to pay your deductible before your insurance coverage will pay out for a new roof.
A good way to keep your insurance costs down and protect your roof is to storm-proof it by installing impact-resistant shingles that are resistant to both cosmetic and functional damage. Not only will this limit the amount of claims you file, saving you time and money, but many insurance companies offer discounts for homeowners who have impact-resistant roofing.
You should also check if your insurance company offers any endorsements or additional roof coverages. Nationwide’s Better Roof Replacement endorsement, for example, will pay to replace your roof with stronger and safer materials if it’s damaged by a covered peril.
Regular maintenance checks of your roof will also help keep it in good shape, especially if you live in an area that experiences severe weather.
Homeowners insurance will cover your leaky roof if the leak was caused by a peril that’s covered in your policy. It may also cover a roof leak if the damage was swift, sudden, and didn’t accumulate over a number of years. However, determining the cause of the leak is often contentious and it may be difficult to prove that the fracturing of the roof was sudden and not the result of years of wear and tear.
It’ll depend on the insurance company, but if you properly used your claim payout to fix or replace your roof and you have some money leftover after, your insurer may let you pocket the excess money. However, claim payouts may go directly to your mortgage lender or a contractor to make the repairs, so it might not be in your control.
You may be able to find insurance companies with “flexible” coverage options for bad roofs, but usually the coverage is lower quality and more expensive.
There are eight different types of homeowners insurance policies for various home types and coverage needs.
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