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How Ignoring A Leaky Roof Can Affect Homeowners' Insurance Claims

by Ryan Wright

If you've got a leaking roof, there are plenty of good reasons not to put it off. It can do a lot of damage to the interior of your home, from encouraging mold growth to causing electrical shorts. But one thing people don't always consider when planning (or putting off) roof repairs is their homeowners' insurance.

Insurance Rarely Covers Mold Growth

Individual plans vary, of course, but most standard home insurance plans don't cover mold damage. Roof leaks can easily kickstart mold growth in your attic, your insulation, or even your ceiling. And unlike mildew growing on shower tiles, it's incredibly difficult to remove mold from nonporous surfaces like wood, drywall, or insulation yourself. Leave your leak too long, and you'll be paying for a mold remediation company as well as a roof contractor.

Coverage For Roof Leaks Varies By Cause

One reason that you should have roof leaks looked at as soon as possible is that if you can determine their cause, you're more likely to have them covered by your insurance. If a severe storm, for instance, damages your roof and the roof begins to leak, the repairs are likely to be covered because the cause was a single unavoidable event. Roof leaks that are caused by aging roofs or by neglect, on the other hand, you'll have to pay for yourself.

This means that keeping up with roofing maintenance is very important. But it's also worth pointing out that, if you wait too long after the storm in the previous example, it becomes less obvious that the storm is what caused your roof to leak--which makes it easier for the insurance company to reject a claim. Ideally, you should check for damage and leaks after any severe weather; when you notice leaks, you should contact both your insurance and a roofing contractor right away.

Insurance Doesn't Treat Water Damage Like Flood Damage

This one is good news for homeowners. Most policies don't cover flood damage, but water damage is a separate issue and much more likely to be covered. So if your roof leak has led to interior damage, it's worth contacting your insurance company to see whether the roof repairs and the interior damage might be covered by your insurance.

This is another area where leaving a leaky roof alone can come back to bite you, too. If you've had a longtime roof leak, your insurance company may argue that interior water damage is due to your own neglect--you chose not to get your roof fixed, and you must pay for the consequences.