Is a Leaky Ceiling Covered by Insurance?

Contributor, Benzinga

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Since life wasn’t already busy enough, now you have a ceiling leak on your hands. Will home insurance cover it? That depends on exactly why your ceiling is leaking. Homeowners insurance typically covers water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. If you had a serious windstorm that caused roof damage and let water in, there’s a good chance that would be covered. If your roof hasn’t been maintained, your homeowners insurance likely won’t cover the claim. So, is a leaky roof covered by insurance?

What Is Considered a Leak?

Homeowners insurance policies don’t have a specific definition for what’s considered a leak. Whether it’s a small drip or a steady flow of water, it all falls under the category of water damage. Water damage is the 2nd most frequently filed insurance claim, and the average water damage claim is $10,849, according to the Insurance Information Institute

What Types of Damage are Typically Covered

Home insurance policies vary when it comes to the types of damage they cover. Water damage, in particular, can vary. Whether damage will be covered depends on the language in your policy and the source of the damage. In general, ceiling leaks and water damage will be covered if they’re due to:

  • Roof leaks caused by a covered peril: A peril is what causes damage, like hail or a tree falling. Covered perils typically include wind and hail damage, falling objects, vandalism, the weight of ice, snow or sleet and lightning strikes. 
  • Unexpected plumbing issues: If a pipe freezes or has a defect and bursts, causing your ceiling leak, that would most likely be covered by homeowners insurance. 
  • Appliance overflows. If you have an appliance on an upper floor and it floods, it could cause ceiling leaks in the lower floor. If it’s an unexpected overflow and not related to negligence or a lack of maintenance, it may be covered. 

Leak Damage Exclusions on Home Insurance

Leak damage typically isn’t covered by home insurance in the following situations:

  • Maintenance issues: If a leak is caused by an issue that could or should be resolved by maintenance, home insurance typically won’t cover it. For example, if a water faucet drips or a roof hasn’t been maintained, it’s considered the homeowner’s responsibility. 
  • Floods: Home insurance policies typically don’t cover flooding due to a storm or a surging body of water. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s best to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. 
  • Negligence: This is when someone is careless or not paying attention. For example, if a ceiling leak occurs because your toddler left a faucet running, that may not be covered by your home insurance policy. 

Home insurance also won’t cover repairing your appliance if it was the source of the leak. Let’s say your ceiling leak was caused by a washing machine malfunction. Your home insurance may cover repairing the ceiling, but it won’t pay to repair or replace the washing machine. 

How to File a Home Insurance Claim for Leaks

Here are the steps you need to take to file a claim for a leak. 

  1. Minimize the potential damage. Before you start the claims process, do what you can to minimize the impact of the leak. If you haven’t already, use a bucket or pan to catch the leaking water and a tarp or towel to handle any overflow. 
  2. Contact your insurance company. You may be able to start a claim online, but it may be best to call your insurance company. This allows you to ask questions about the claims process. If you’re not sure of what your deductible is, ask. Your deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying before insurance coverage starts. Ask about the claims and repairs process. For example, ask if you will need to get an estimate before you start repairs.
  3. Document the damage. Video and photos are the best way to do this. Take pictures of the leak and any damage it caused. Put together a list of any property that was damaged in the leak along with its value. If you have the receipts for any valuable items that were damaged, gather those as well. It helps to confirm the value of the item. 
  4. Fill out the claim forms. These may be online or on paper. Be sure to fill out everything and include your documentation when you file the claim. You can often upload pictures when you file an online claim. 
  5. Make temporary repairs. If you’re comfortable doing so, make temporary repairs. You’ll need to find the source of the leak. If you make any purchases to complete the repairs, keep your receipts so you can submit them for reimbursement. 
  6. Meet with an adjuster. Some insurance companies aren’t doing as many in-person inspections due to the pandemic. If it’s a large leak with extensive damage, you may still need to meet with an adjuster. Have your documentation handy so you can provide it to the adjuster. The adjuster will also interview you, so be prepared to discuss when the leak started and any other important details.
  7. If required, get estimates. Consider getting 2 or 3 quotes for the repairs. This gives you the best chance of finding someone with reasonable pricing.
  8. Follow your insurance company’s requirements for completing repairs. The insurance company may send the payout. In some cases, your contractor may ask you to sign a “direction to pay” form, which allows your insurance company to pay them directly. You don’t have to sign off on this. Some homeowners prefer to have the funds sent to them so they can control the process. Do what works best for you.

What to Do if Your Claim is Denied

If your claim is denied, there are still steps you can take. First, review the letter stating why the claim was denied. If you’re unclear as to the reason, contact your insurance company. If there was missing documentation or the adjuster didn’t include the extent of the damage, ask for it to be reviewed again. 

If they don’t agree to a review, hire a public adjuster. This is an independent party who can evaluate the damage. Submit the new report to your insurance company. 

If those steps don’t sway your insurance company, you can file a complaint with your state or file a lawsuit against the insurance company. You’d file the complaint with your state’s department of insurance. If you file a lawsuit, look for an attorney with experience in property insurance claims. 

Best Home Insurance for Leak Coverage

If you’re not sure how a ceiling leak will be handled, review your insurance policy. Consider whether you should switch your coverage. Here are the best home insurance companies for leak coverage. 

1. Lemonade

Lemonade provides a top-rated homeowners insurance experience that’s easy and hassle free. Award-winning customer service and digital, super-fast everything from just $25 a month.

Taking the traditional insurance model and flipping it over, Lemonade offers home insurance for the tech-savvy consumer. Using insurtech, Lemonade provides an insurance experience that’s fast, affordable and hassle-free. 

Using the Lemonade app you can get insurance in 90 seconds. It takes about 3 minutes to get paid for a claim. Boasting simplicity and transparency, Lemonade takes a flat fee, pays claims quickly and donates what’s leftover to causes close to your heart. It’s like receiving and giving all in one. 

Coverage includes things like theft (whether inside or outside your home), perils (fire, water damage, storm damage) and extra living expenses.

Check Prices securely through Lemonade’s website
Best For
Ratings, price and customization
N/A
1 Minute Review

Lemonade home insurance provides a top-rated homeowners insurance experience that’s easy and hassle free. Award-winning customer service and digital, super-fast everything from just $25 a month.

Lemonade uses technology to simplify the home insurance claims and sign up process. You can buy a policy in just a few minutes by answering a few simple questions, and some claims can be  paid instantly using its innovative AI technology. 

The app has high user ratings and keeps you connected with your policy. Lemonade may also donate a portion of your premiums to a charity of your choice each year through its Giveback program. 

Best For
  • Those looking for an ultramodern home insurance experience
  • Those looking to switch from other homeowners insurance coverage
  • Tech-loving homeowners who want fast, efficient home coverage
Pros
  • Get coverage in as little as 90 seconds
  • Most claims paid in less than 3 minutes
  • Leftover premiums support charities you care about
  • Buried utilities and equipment failure endorsements available
Cons
  • Not yet available in all states

2. Amica

Amica has consistently ranked at or near the top of J.D. Power’s Home Insurance Study. That means customers are highly satisfied with their claims experience. It also offers a discount of up to 20% if you insure both your home and your car.

Amica has an A+ rating from AM Best, which means it’s financially stable. Another service it offers is Contractor Connection, which helps connect you to licensed contractors for leak repairs. 

Best For
First time policyholders
N/A
1 Minute Review

Amica, while a lesser-known brand than some other insurers, has been providing fire and auto insurance since 1907 and is the oldest mutual insurer of automobiles in the US. The company, owned by its policyholders, prides itself on exceptional service and returns dividends to policyholders when premiums generate a surplus. Customers recently rated Amica Mutual as the highest rated home insurance provider in a recent JD Power survey.

Best For
  • Customers who are comfortable handling their insurance needs by phone or online
  • New home insurance customers
  • Customers looking to bundle insurance policies
Pros
  • Top rated in every category in JD Power’s home insurance survey
  • Bundling home and auto policies creates an opportunity to save on Amica Auto Insurance
  • Annual dividends are paid on eligible policies based on surpluses
Cons
  • Expect customer support to be phone-based or web-based due to a small brick-and-mortar presence
  • Coverage for some homes may not be available through this insurer

3. Nationwide

Nationwide has been in business for 90 years. It provides excellent customer service through its network of agents. You can also contact Nationwide directly.

It has a mobile app that makes it easy to find your policy information and file a claim. You can also bundle home, auto and life coverage to save money. If you have questions, Nationwide also has educational articles on homeowners insurance and other topics. 

Best For
Customizable policies
N/A
1 Minute Review

As one of the United States’ largest insurance providers, Nationwide offers homeowners insurance options across the country. If you already have a policy with Nationwide, you can easily bundle multiple coverages together to save on both policies. In addition to bundling, Nationwide also allows you to save using many other discounts, including discounts for having a security system installed in your home and for remaining claims free.

Unlike some other insurance providers, Nationwide makes it easy to claim a quote online (though you can speak with an in-person representative if you choose). Though Nationwide quoted higher than the national average price for homeowner’s insurance, these costs can vary widely by location. Overall, Nationwide provides homeowners with a quick and easy option to get covered. 

 

Best For
  • Homeowners looking for fast coverage
  • Homeowners who want the option to speak with an agent
  • Anyone who already has a Nationwide policy
Pros
  • Instant quote tool allows you to see prices quickly
  • Loss-of-use and credit protections included on standard policies
  • Offers a range of insurance products for bundling discounts
Cons
  • Confusing customer contact system
  • Pricing higher than average in some areas

Which Home Insurance Is Right for My Leaky Roof?

If you’re shopping for coverage, the best approach is to contact at least 2 or 3 insurance companies. Compare the quotes. Be sure to look at the premium (your monthly payments) as well as your policy limits and deductibles. Choose a provider that’s easy to work with and provides a good value for your money. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Are all roof leaks covered under homeowner’s insurance?

1
Are all roof leaks covered under homeowner’s insurance?
asked
A
1

Roof leaks are generally covered under homeowner’s insurance, but you must check your policy to learn of any exceptions or exemptions.

answered
Q

Is water damage covered by homeowner’s insurance?

1
Is water damage covered by homeowner’s insurance?
asked
A
1

Some water damage is covered by home insurance, but flooding is not. Check your homeowner’s policy for any exemptions.

answered

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