Along with blooming daffodils and tulips, spring also ushers in the season of powerful storms that bring heavy rain, high winds, and hail. Losses from severe thunderstorms in the U.S. have increased sevenfold since 1980, reaching almost $15 billion last year, according to Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer. After a strong spring storm, we receive frequent calls from clients to inquire about their homeowners insurance coverage for hail damage to roofs, flooded basements, and fallen trees. As it turns out sometimes your homeowners policy does cover the damage, but not always. Here’s what you need to know.
Does homeowners insurance cover roof damage?
The dwelling coverage section of homeowners insurance protects the structure of your home—including its roof—from perils covered in the policy. If your roof is heavily damaged by fire, heavy winds, hail, or a buildup of snow or ice, you’ll likely be reimbursed for the damage if you file a claim. Even small leaks can be covered as long as it’s proven that the leak was caused by an insured risk. However, if it is determined that your roof was damaged because it was not well-maintained or general wear and tear, it may not be covered. In addition, it’s important that the homeowner note the date of the storm associated with the damaged roof. 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.
Does my homeowners policy cover the flood damage to my basement from heavy rains?
Other than fire there is nothing more destructive to your home than water damage. Yet, homeowners insurance often times does not cover damage from flooding. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding caused by extreme weather conditions such as spring thaw or generalized flooding that originates from outside your home. Even backed-up sewers aren’t covered on most policies unless you pay extra for this coverage. However, if your home is damaged by a pipe that bursts or a leak in a pipe, the water damage may be covered, but not the cost to repair the pipe. If you are concerned about flooding, you may want to investigate flood insurance.
If a tree falls on my house am I covered?
If a tree lands on your home due to wind, lightning, or hail, you are covered no matter who owns the tree. If a tree hits an insured structure, a homeowners policy covers the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the type of policy purchased. If the fallen tree did not hit an insured structure, there is generally no coverage for debris removal. However, some insurance companies may pay for the cost of removing the felled tree if it is blocking a driveway or a ramp designed to assist the handicapped. Stately trees and landscaping add value to a property and can be costly to replace. Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage to trees and shrubs due to disasters or an accident—like fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, and malicious mischief. In most states, if your tree or any part of it falls on your neighbor’s property and causes damage to their property through no fault of your own (due to a snowstorm, winds, hurricane, or another so-called “act of God”), you are not responsible. Your neighbors will have to file a claim with their own property insurer if they want to be reimbursed for their loss. If, however, the tree that you own, or a branch from it, fell as a result of your negligence (for example, an overhanging branch had been dead for years and your neighbors had been complaining about it for nearly as long but you neglected to have it cut down), you are liable.
These are great examples of why working with a Healy Group personal insurance advisor is so important. We can explain what risks your homeowners policy does and does not cover as well as suggest additional insurance products such as flood insurance or an umbrella policy for another layer of risk protection.
Want to learn more about what your homeowners policy covers? Contact us.
About the Authors
Connie Greenwood has 35 years of experience as an Insurance Advisor. She enjoys helping her clients and prospects understand their insurance options, and crafting insurance solutions tailored to their unique needs. Connie finds great joy in being a trusted advisor for her clients. She loves helping protect their financial welfare against unforeseen accidents and circumstances and bringing them peace of mind.
Tim Pingel has almost 20 years of experience as a personal insurance adviser. He provides individuals, couples, and families with home, auto, and umbrella insurance. His ultimate goal is to be his clients’ trusted adviser and expert, so they have the peace of mind and protection they deserve.