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A roof is essential. It’s your first line of defense from outside elements like the sun, snow and wind. If your roof fails, the average cost to fix it is around $1,000, though the bill can be higher.
You may get a home warranty with roof coverage to pay for repairs, but it’s important to know that not all types of damage will be covered.
Some home warranty companies offer limited coverage for roof leaks, often as an add-on option, and there may be exclusions. But you may have other options for covering some types of roof damage, like your homeowners insurance policy.
Here’s how to determine the protection that applies to your roof.
A home warranty with roof coverage and homeowners insurance can both protect you from costly roof repairs, but they work differently.
Home warranty companies typically limit roof coverage to repairs of leaks caused by normal wear and tear, which is the gradual failure of your roof over time. You may be able to purchase the coverage as part of a standard contract or as an add-on option.
The limited coverage typically includes:
Roofs over the occupied areas of single-family homes, not including patios or decks. (It also excludes condos and townhouses.) Coverage for garages will vary depending on the provider.
The most common types of roofs, like asphalt, wood shingles or clay tiles.
Homeowners insurance offers your roof a different type of protection. A homeowners insurance policy insures your home in the event that it’s damaged by covered weather-related events, like lighting, wind or rain.
For example, if your roof is damaged by hail and then rainwater leaks into your home, your homeowners insurance would likely help pay for the cost to repair or replace the roof. It may also cover your personal property.
» MORE: What does a home warranty cover?
Home warranties with roof coverage typically fix the root of the problem, but not necessarily the secondary damage and chaos that ensues from the leak, like damage to the interior ceiling of your home or your belongings, says Tom Nichols, senior account executive and director of business development at Choice Home Warranty, headquartered in Edison, New Jersey.
“Optional items like limited roof leak repair do not have the same level of robustness that the coverage regarding plumbing, electrical, appliance, cooling and heating do in most home warranties,” he explains.
Here are some things that home warranties with roof coverage typically don't cover. Consult your contract for specifics:
Flashing and items mounted on the roof like solar panels, satellite dishes and air conditioning units.
Skylights, chimneys, vents, gutters and downspouts.
Certain materials, including metal roofs and green or eco roofs, which are environmentally friendly roofs with live plants on top.
If your home warranty provides limited roof leak coverage, you may be wondering if it’s worth the price.
“I think it’s safe to say, eventually every roof will leak,” Nichols says. “No roof is designed to last forever. Just like all lightbulbs, just like all tires, just like all — fill in the blank — will eventually succumb to age and normal wear and tear and require mending.”
The average cost for adding optional roof leak repair to your plan is $8 a month, according to HomeAdvisor. Some home warranty companies offer free roof leak coverage when you sign up for their general warranty plan.
Be prepared to pay a service fee each time you call a professional to check on a problem with your roof. The fee varies depending on the provider, but HomeAdvisor says the cost can range from $75 to $125.
Most warranty companies set limits on the overall damage they will cover — up to $1,500 for a leak, for example.
Alternatives to roof warranties
Some roofs come with a manufacturer’s warranty. The warranty can last decades, but it may protect you only if defective materials were installed.
A workmanship warranty typically guarantees the work of the contractor that installed the roof. The coverage can vary depending on the company and typically protects against installation errors.
If you can’t take advantage of those warranties, you may be able to pay for unexpected roof leak repairs by using an open home equity line of credit, or HELOC, dipping into your housing emergency fund, using a 0% interest credit card or taking out an unsecured personal loan.
Adding roof leak coverage to your home warranty plan for an extra fee can help your repair costs from going through the roof. It’s important, however, to review the restrictions and the cost of coverage, as well as consider alternative approaches to protecting your roof.