You come home and find a leak in the ceiling that’s dripping water down onto your living room floor. You trace the leak in the ceiling back to a crack in the chimney which is allowing rainwater to seep through into your roof and then into your living room. Will your homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of repairs on your chimney?
It depends on the situation.
Chimneys present a difficult situation when it comes to making an insurance claim. Each insurance policy is different so it will help to know what your covers, but it will also pay to know the situation leading up to damages on your chimney as this affects whether your homeowner’s insurance will cover the repairs.
As with all insurance claims, remember that if the cost of repairs is less than the amount you have put down for your deductible, then your claim will be denied. This means that if you have a deductible of $1,000 but the chimney repairs are $500, you will have to cover this expense yourself.
Is your chimney maintenance covered?
If you are looking to get your chimney cleaned and any minor holes patched before real damages come along, you won’t be reimbursed by your home insurance. Homeowners insurance sees chimney care as the homeowner’s responsibility as with all forms of house maintenance.
Hiring a certified chimney sweep to find and fix any issues with your chimney will not be covered but might be your best choice. It’s better to fix the small issues now before they expand into great damages that your insurance company will not cover. Better to pay the small bills now for the chimney maintenance rather than the big bills later when your chimney begins to break down.
Another good rule of thumb to remember is that wear and tear over the years will not be covered by your insurance. This means that if you have a leak in your ceiling due to your chimney’s old age and any damages occurring over the years, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover you. They see wear and tear as an avoidable risk that results from the homeowner not taking care of their chimney.
Internal repairs resulting from chimney damage
Let’s say the water from your ceiling leak caused by your chimney has dripped and began to rot your wooden floors. Will this be covered by your insurance company?
Yes, it will. Any damages that occur inside the house due to chimney damage will probably be covered by your homeowners insurance. In this instance, take a picture of the damages and send it to your insurance company, so they may see what they need to repair. Move any furniture and plug up the leak to avoid any further damages as you may be held responsible for homeowner negligence and failing to take care of your property.
Remember that every policy is different and it’s important to check yours to see what is covered and what is not.
What your insurance company will cover
This does not mean that in no instance will your homeowner’s insurance cover chimney repairs. If your chimney is damaged by a surprise circumstance, you may be covered for chimney repairs. What does that entail?
If your chimney is damaged as result of something sudden and uncontrollable such as a lightning strike or a chimney fire, your homeowner’s insurance may cover it. Even if the chimney fire was due to homeowner negligence, it’s still considered a sudden and uncontrollable event and most insurance companies will cover you.
There are cases of uncontrollable events that will not be covered as your insurance company may still claim homeowner responsibility. One example of this being if your chimney is knocked over by strong winds. Most chimneys should be able to withstand severe winds and your insurance company could claim this as reason for not covering repairs. If the winds knock a tree branch that hits your chimney, you should be covered as that has nothing to do with chimney upkeep.
File your claim and get your chimney repaired
If you feel you have a case that will be accepted by your homeowner’s insurance, don’t wait to call. Speak with your insurance agent as soon as you can and then don’t wait to get repairs started. Once you’ve notified your insurance company and gathered all the evidence – pictures, debris, etc. – don’t wait to begin repairs to prevent further damage.