Homeowners insurance covers roof leaks that occur suddenly and accidentally, and those caused by another covered peril, like a hailstorm. But leaks that develop over time or because of poor maintenance aren’t covered.
Stephanie NievesStephanie NievesEditor & Home and Auto Insurance ExpertStephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.&Kara McGinleyKara McGinleySenior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance ExpertKara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.
A standard homeowners insurance policy will pay for repairs to your roof if a covered peril causes the roof to crack and leak, like if shingles are ripped off your roof during a windstorm or a tree falls onto your roof and causes a leak. But leaks that develop over time due to poor maintenance or failure to fix damage you already knew about wouldn’t be covered.
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a roof leak, and if your homeowners insurance company determines that you could have done more to prevent the crack or leak before it developed, your claim may be denied.
Homeowners insurance will cover a roof leak when the leak occurs suddenly and accidentally, like when it’s caused by a covered peril.
A standard policy won’t cover a roof leak if the damage occurs gradually or is caused by pest damage, poor maintenance, or neglect.
Find and repair the source of your roof leak as soon as you discover it to avoid expensive water damage down the line.
Homeowners insurance covers a roof leak when the damage is caused by a covered peril. Below are some instances of roof leaks that would be covered by homeowners insurance.
Wind and hail
Homeowners insurance typically covers both wind and hail damage. So if a hailstorm creates a crack in your roof and rainwater gets in, the water damage to your home may be covered.
That said, coverage for wind and hail damage is excluded in some states prone to severe weather. For example, many high-risk coastal communities in Florida require you to add windstorm insurance to your homeowners policy for an additional premium.
Lightning is another covered peril. So if lightning strikes your home and you notice your roof leaking soon after, that damage would likely be covered.
Rain, snow, and ice dams
Damage to your home and personal property caused by the weight of rain, snow, or ice is covered under a standard home insurance policy. If you notice a leak in your roof soon after a heavy ice storm, the damage may be covered.
But if snow and ice were building up on your roof for months and it finally cracks, your home insurance company may determine that the damage was gradual and not the result of one storm alone. In this case, your leaky roof wouldn’t be covered.
If a thunderstorm causes a tree to fall on your home and rainwater gets in through a crack in your roof, your dwelling coverage would pay to repair your roof and the damage to your home. Your personal belongings would also be covered up to your personal property coverage limits.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from a leaky roof?
Yes, homeowners insurance will cover water damage from a roof leak if the leak was sudden and accidental. But it won’t cover water damage from floods, sewage backup, or gradual leaks.
If a covered peril creates an opening in your roof that causes rainwater to pour into your attic, you could file a claim to repair your roof and the resulting water damage. But if rain dripped into your home for months before, you won’t be covered.
When doesn’t homeowners insurance cover a roof leak?
Homeowners insurance won’t cover every cause of a roof leak. Some risks are specifically excluded from policies depending on where you live. Check with your insurer to review your covered perils before filing a claim for roof damage.
When a leaky roof is caused by an animal or pest infestation, it is classified as a maintenance issue and homeowners insurance will not cover it.
For example, squirrels are known to cause expensive roof damage over time, which can lead to roof leaks. Because homeowners insurance only covers sudden and accidental events, the gradual animal damage would not be covered.
Poor maintenance or neglect
A roof that’s endured gradual damage would not be covered in the event that a leak causes water damage. In general, poorly maintained or neglected structures are not covered by homeowners insurance. If your roof was corroding before the leak began, your home insurance wouldn’t cover the resulting damage because necessary repairs would have prevented the leak from occurring in the first place.
Homeowners insurance excludes flood damage. That means if a tsunami or hurricane results in flood damage to your home, you wouldn’t be able to file a homeowners insurance claim. You’ll need to purchase a flood insurance policy for protection against floodwaters.
How much does it cost to repair a roof leak?
Roof leak repairs cost anywhere from $400to$2,500, depending on the severity of the leak. If the repairs cost less than your home insurance deductible — which is the amount you’re responsible for paying out of pocket before insurance kicks in — then you won’t be able to file a claim.
Keep in mind that filing a claim could raise your rates when you go to renew your policy at the end of its term. If you’re financially able to foot the leak repair bill yourself, this may be a better option.
How to find a roof leak
There are a few steps you can take to get ahead of roof leaks and avoid the resulting water damage they can cause.
Follow evidence of the leak. If you notice water stains on your ceiling or mold in the corners of your home, then chances are there’s a leak somewhere and it’s bound to cause further damage to your home. Trace all physical signs of damage or associated odors to their highest point to pinpoint the source of the leak.
Check your roof regularly. Make sure your roof is in good condition — meaning the panels are properly installed and no part of your roof is cracked, damaged, or broken.
Keep an eye on your highest floor. Even if you don’t suspect a leak, you should inspect the ceilings of your highest floor just to be sure. If your roof is leaking, you'll see damage on your top floor first.
Make all necessary repairs promptly. Once you pinpoint the source of your leaky roof, make the repairs yourself or hire a professional to bring it to tip-top shape before it causes even more damage.
How the age of your roof impacts your home insurance rates
One benefit of investing in a roof replacement is you'll typically be rewarded with lower home insurance premiums.
Here's how much you stand to save on your home insurance rates by replacing your roof:
Methodology: Annual rates are based on our analysis of home insurance premiums provided by Quadrant Information Services in March 2022 for ZIP codes in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. Annual rates for old roofs are calculated by averaging the cost of policies for a roof that's 10 years old, 15 years old, and 20 years old with each carrier.
Does homeowners insurance cover ceiling damage from a roof leak?
If your roof or ceiling is damaged by a covered peril — like if a windstorm causes a leak that lets rainwater in — then homeowners insurance may help pay for repairs. But if your roof leaks due to gradual wear and tear and your ceiling is damaged, that wouldn’t be covered.
Will my insurance company pay to replace my whole roof if it's leaking?
Replacing an entire roof due to a leak may not be necessary. However, if the damage is extensive and caused by a covered peril, home insurance may pay to replace the whole thing.
Will a new roof lower my insurance premiums?
Yes, making home improvements like replacing your old roof with a new one will likely lower your insurance costs. The age, makeup, and condition of your roof directly affects your homeowners insurance premiums. Generally, the better condition your roof is in, the lower your premiums may be.
Stephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.
Kara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.