A leak in my roof has stained my ceiling and I am afraid that it needs to be replaced. Should I file an insurance claim for my leaky roof?
The short answer is “No”. Before deciding to file a claim for roof damage, a homeowner must gather more facts than just the evidence of a leak.
The first question that must be answered is ‘what is the source of the leak and what caused it?’ Did the leak originate from deteriorated flashing at the chimney or other maintenance related issue? If so, your insurance policy excludes coverage for wear and tear and other deferred maintenance issues. Knowing and being able to prove that the point of entry for the moisture was caused by a sudden and accidental insured event (lightning, wind, hail, falling tree limb, ice damming, etc.) should be the first step in deciding whether to file an insurance claim for roof damage.
The second question that must be answered is ‘when did the damage occur?’ Your insurance policy has a date on which coverage begins and a date for when coverage ends. Did the damage during the period of insurance coverage?
The third question that must be answered is ‘does the cost to restore my roof to its condition prior to the event that damaged it exceed my deductible, and by how much?’ Not all insurance policies provide for a full roof replacement under all circumstances. What does your policy cover and how much deductible will be applied before the insurance begins to pay? A $350,000 insurance policy with a 1% deductible will begin to pay for covered damage for amounts that exceed $3,500. A roof repair that will cost $3,000, while covered by the policy, would not result in a payment. A $5,000 repair or partial replacement would result in a payment from the insurance company of $1,5000, less depreciation when applicable.
When you know what caused the leak AND when you know that the damage that caused the leak is covered under your policy AND you know that the event that caused the leak occurred during the period which your insurance company provided coverage AND you know that the amount your insurance provider will pay you (along with the possibility of an increase in your premium rate) exceeds your costs of repair at your own expense … it is probably worthwhile to file an insurance claim.