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Can I claim for a leaking roof on my home insurance?

22/07/2021

Leaking Roof
A leaking roof is a common problem that many property owners and tenants face, and one that can cause a lot of damage, financial repercussions and general inconvenience.

If you have experienced this issue recently, or have concerns about it happening in the future, you will probably want to know whether or not the leak and any resulting damage will be covered by your home insurance or contents insurance policy.


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Here are some of the key things to bear in mind.

Can I claim for a leaking roof on my home insurance?

The answer to this question largely depends on what caused the leak. For instance, if your property was hit by a sudden storm which resulted in damage to your roof, most home insurance providers will cover the cost of repairs.

This would generally be covered under the ‘buildings’ element of your home insurance, which protects the physical structure of your property against loss or damage caused by extreme weather, fire, theft, vandalism and other threats.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that most home insurance policies won’t cover you if the leak has occurred due to poor upkeep or general wear and tear.

So if you experience a leak because you haven’t maintained the roof to a suitable standard and rain is now starting to get in and damage the timbers etc, there’s a good chance your home insurer will put that down to negligence on your part and refuse to pay out.

The general rule is that homeowners are expected to do their bit to keep the property in good condition.

Of course, the other big concern is the damage leaks can cause to items within the home.

Will insurance cover damage to contents as well as the cost of repairing the roof itself?

If you want some financial protection for the items contained within your home – electrical items, furniture, expensive clothing and so on – this will either fall under the contents part ofyour home insurance policy if you have buildings and contents insurance, or under your standalone contents insurance or tenants insurance policy if you aren’t a homeowner.

Contents insurance (or the contents component of a buildings and contents policy) protects your possessions from damage caused by floods and storms, as well as things like:

  • Fire damage
  • Natural disasters
  • Vandalism or malicious damage
  • Theft

If you experience a leak because of a storm or flood, your contents insurance or tenants insurance policy should cover the costs of any damage caused to your belongings inside the property. However, the ‘wear and tear’ exclusion will once again apply – you won’t be covered for damage to your contents if the insurer deems the leak to be the result of inaction on your part.


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Landlords and tenants

Things get slightly more complicated when rental homes are involved, where the landlord owns the property itself but the tenants own the items inside.

The same principles apply regarding insurer expectations that the owner will keep the property in good repair. In short, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to undertake maintenance work on the roof and minimise the risk of leaks.

As the property owner, most buy-to-let mortgage providers will also require the landlord to take out a landlord insurance policy to insure the actual building. However, the onus will usually be on the tenant to take out a suitable tenant’s insurance or contents insurance policy to protect their own belongings in the event of a leak.

Who is liable for water damage in a block of flats?

Leaks that occur in blocks of flats can also lead to questions about who is liable for the cost of water damage.

Most flats are bought on a leasehold basis, which means the individual buyers own the property itself, but not the land on which it stands, which belongs to the freeholder.

The exact details of who is responsible for arranging insurance and paying for repairs will be stated in the lease. However, in many cases the freeholder will be responsible for repairs to:

  • The building’s structure, including the roof and guttering
  • Shared parts of the building, such as lifts and stairways

Leaseholders in blocks of flats are normally responsible for maintaining:

  • Internal plumbing
  • Wiring
  • Plasterwork and floorboards
  • Paintwork and decoration
  • Carpets
  • Furniture and appliances

It’s important for leaseholders and freeholders to be fully aware of their obligations for insuring and looking after the property, as stated in their lease.

What does buildings insurance usually cover, and what is excluded?

The buildings insurance element of home insurance can provide cover for various eventualities, including loss or damage caused by:

  • Fire and explosions
  • Storms, flooding and natural disasters
  • Theft, attempted theft and vandalism
  • Frozen and burst pipes
  • Fallen trees or lampposts
  • Subsidence
  • Vehicle or aircraft collisions

It’s also important to be aware of certain conditions that could invalidate your buildings insurance policy, as well as common exclusions. These generally include:

  • Wear and tear
  • Acts of terrorism
  • The property being unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days in a year
  • Damage that has arisen because you are running a business from home
  • Business-related contents

As with any form of insurance, it’s vital to check your buildings and contents policies carefully to be sure you have the level of cover you need.


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This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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