Roof maintenance and how it affects your house insurance

“…unfortunately the roof repairs are not storm related and are maintenance.”

I do not work for insurance companies.

But I deal with a lot of roof storm damage claims – mostly the ones that are rejected by insurance companies.

The quote above typically describes why the insurance claim is rejected.

My advice to home owners is to submit an insurance claim if a storm has caused water ingress into the house and caused internal damage. A home owner will stand a good chance of insurance coverage to repair all the internal damage – since these are all the result of a storm event.

Mostly, any internal damage will be repaired by the insurance company under the claim. It is the roof repair work that is usually challenged by the insurance companies.

If the insurance company sends out their assessor, this person will assess the internal damage and also do a roof inspection to see what caused the leak. This is where problems will arise. The assessor will often state that there is no storm damage to the roof … and that the leakage problems have been caused by lack of roof maintenance.

Some insurance companies even go as far as saying that since the leaking and subsequent damage is because the roof has not be maintained properly, the whole claim is rejected. They will not even do the repair to the internal damage!

So, what exactly is roof maintenance?

It is easier to describe what is NOT roof maintenance and under these circumstances, the insurance companies will classify these as storm events:

  • Hail related events where roof damage is caused by hail stone damage;
  • winds blowing debris onto roofs and breaking roof tiles;
  • High winds blowing roof off;

… Anything else can be classified as ‘roof maintenance issues’ and give the insurance companies grounds for rejection of the claim.

Some examples of roof maintenance issues are:

  • blocked gutters:
  • rusty roof or rusty gutters;
  • blocked flashings;
  • leaves and debris on roofs (see video below);

Other roofing problems that are due to faulty installation of design are also lumped into the ‘roof maintenance’ category:

  • Pitch of roof too low;
  • flashings not installed correctly;
  • box gutters not big enough;

What is the solution?

It is not smart to have insurance and know that your roof has maintenance issues.

Regular cleaning can stop water leaks.

Rusty components should be replaced.

If your roof has installation or design problems, then a good roofer should be engaged to get them repaired.

13 Responses to "Roof maintenance and how it affects your house insurance"
    • Hi Tania,
      This is a difficult question – because you are not supposed to do anything to the asbestos roof sheeting.
      The asbestos sheets can crack. There are no replacement sheets available.
      Flashings on the asbestos roof can leak. You may be able to repair /maintain these if they are not asbestos based…
      … If the condition of the asbestos roof is ‘not good’ – the best solution is to replace it with a metal roof.

      Hope this helps,
      Jack

  1. Hi hoping someone can advise. Internal Ceiling collapsed without obvious cause (original 1970s plaster board and horsehair strapping). Assessor indicated insurance may reject due to maintenance however I’m at a loss as to how i could have prevented it. We replaced the roof a couple of years back, installed new gutters and gutter guards as well as full engineer report prior to purchasing.Aside from that I’m not sure what else we could have done. Any advice should the insurers use this excuse? Thanks

    • Hi Catherine,
      Unfortunately, every insurance policy has all the fine print (Product Disclosure Statement) that is inconsistent between different types of policies and different insurers.
      Then different assessors make their own rules.
      There is not much advice that I can give that will be of much use because of the above…

      Jack

  2. I’ve got a corrugated roof on the lean to part of the house with only a 2-2.5 drop so the assessor suggested I replace it with trim deck. I have a couple of questions: is the trim deck significantly heavier that the corrugated roofing? Will it require re engineering of my batons and beams? Is it expensive and how long would it take for 80 sq metres?

    • Hi Simon,
      The ‘Trimdek’ profile roofing is made with exactly the same material as the corrugated and is the same weight. Your battens and beams stay the same.
      Depending on how many guys are on the job, it will probably be a day or two to do the work.
      Hope this helps.

      Jack

  3. My garage roof goes to the fence line, and my neighbours’ creeper has grown through the gutters and across my roof. To can’t access the creeper to trim it or remove it except from ontop of the roof which feels quite dangerous. I asked them to cut it back on their side and they say it is my responsibility.

    • Hi Anne,
      It is best if I do not comment on whose responsibility it is.
      If you are not comfortable with removing the creeper from your roof, you can get a gutter cleaner to do it for you.
      Also, if your garage roof is on the fence line, maybe you can put a ladder up from your neighbour’s yard and remove the creeper that way.

      Jack

  4. The insurance co says maintenance plus “hail cannot break open lead flashing” was the reason for declining my claim for hail damage (cracking open) to a small section of roof lead flashing. The damage was on the side of the house where most damage was done.

    Is their opinion valid?

    I have photos I can email to you for opinion.

    • Hi Trevor,
      In my experience, if the hailstorm had stones big enough to crack lead flashing (lead usually just suffer dents), then a large number of your roof tiles will be destroyed also.
      This does not seem to be the case,.
      I think you will have a hard job fighting your insurance company on this…

      Jack

  5. Hi Jack:
    If rainwater comes in and seeps and drips down through the roof becuase a tradie had mistakenly not pushed back roof tiles into place, do I get my home insurer to look into the damage to the roof? Or should it be the tradie’s insurer? If the tradie doesn’t want his insurer to be involved and wants to send his own ‘guy’ to assess the damage, should I accept that? Should I be hiring an independent inspector? Can my own home insurer asses the damage and chase the traide’s insurer to pay for the repairs? As you can see I don’t know where to start.

    Please advise.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Sharmin,
      In most cases of this type, the tradie did not mean to make the roof leak. He could have accidentally not pushed the tile back into place (I have seen this happen).
      The tradie should have his own insurance to cover the subsequent repairs after the leak.
      I think you should let him organise his own inspection and then let you know what the damage is and how it is going to be repaired.
      You can either agree to disagree on this.
      If you have your own home insurance, you can also lodge your own claim (but you will need to pay the excess etc…) with your insurance company.
      If your insurance company can recover funds from the tradie’s insurance company – you may not need to pay the excess etc.

      It all does get a bit complicated….

      Jack

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