Gutters may not be as big a component as the roof or siding, yet they are exposed to the same risks that lead to damage. But does homeowners’ insurance pay for damaged gutters?
Types of Policies
If you have the opportunity to compare homeowners’ policies from different insurance providers, one of the things you’ll notice is the difference in how they’re worded. Despite these differences, policies typically fall into two categories:
Named-peril policy – This type of policy covers losses caused by perils that are specifically stated in the policy. Often, such perils include fire, vandalism, hailstones, falling objects or lightning strikes. If it’s not listed in the policy then you do not have coverage for it.
In case your gutters are not named as a peril – which means it isn’t covered – you can ask your insurance provider if your list can be amended to include it. Some insurance providers allow additional perils as add-ons. In either case, adding gutters or any other named peril will incur a corresponding increase in your monthly premiums.
Open-peril policy – An open-peril policy is an “all-risk” type of policy and is like the reverse of named-peril policies. Instead of naming specific perils to be included in your coverage, open-peril policies have a list of exclusions, typically perils like damage caused by flooding or hurricane-force winds after a certain category level.
While gutter damage isn’t typically excluded in open-peril policies, you should nevertheless check your list exclusions. In case it isn’t, you might end up paying for gutter repair out of pocket.
As we described under open-peril policies, exclusions, in insurance parlance, is a list of damages that your policy will not cover. Some of them can be negotiated with your insurance provider, often with an associated increase in your premiums. Other policies have an absolute list that cannot be changed. The following are some of the most common policy exclusions:
Disasters – Flooding, earthquakes, and acts of war are the most common exclusions that most, if not all insurance providers list among their exclusions (see “Homeowners Disaster Deductibles” below). In some cases, disaster insurance may provide coverage for gutter repair, but not replacement.
Normal wear – Damage from wear and tear is inevitable, which is why exterior components, including roofing, siding and gutters, have expected lifespans. Note that gutter manufacturers offer limited warranty coverage that includes damage caused by premature wear and tear. This may include damage to the outer coating, such as cracking, blistering or fading. Failure due to installation errors may be covered by workmanship or installation warranties, which usually provide coverage for the first two years after installation.
Negligence – Care and maintenance are part and parcel of owning a house. Not keeping up with regular gutter cleaning and periodic maintenance can result in certain types of damage, such as corrosion, broken fasteners or sections of the troughs falling off. Damage to the house caused by neglected gutters, such as vermin, ice damming or water damage to the roof deck, may also happen.
When filing a warranty or insurance claim, you will be required to provide proof that you have been keeping up with required maintenance. Failure to provide proof may result in voided coverage.
What Are Deductibles?
A deductible is an amount of money that the policyholder – that is, you – is responsible for paying toward an insured loss. It’s the way in which risks are shared between you and your insurance provider. Generally, the higher your deductibles, the less premiums you pay. Conversely, the higher the premiums, the lower your deductibles will be.
As the policyholder, you need to set your expectations that the insurance claim amount for gutter installation or repair won’t be paid out at 100% after deductibles. In most cases, you may have to pay for the difference out of pocket. Fortunately, such out-of-pocket expenses are usually a small fraction of what you would have paid for gutter installation if it’s not covered by your insurance policy.
Homeowners’ Disaster Deductibles
Damage caused by wind, hail and hurricanes are covered by standard homeowners’ insurance. Policies that cover flooding and earthquakes are purchased separately. These and other common types of disasters may have coverage with their own deductible rules. If you live in an area where there’s high risk of the following disasters, make it a point to understand how your particular deductibles work.
Hurricane deductibles – Special deductibles may apply for homeowners insurance claims when the cause of damage is attributable to a hurricane. Whether such deductibles apply may depend on specific “triggers” as selected by your insurance provider. These triggers vary by state and insurance provider, and usually apply when the National Weather Service names a storm, declares a hurricane warning or defines a hurricane’s intensity in terms of wind speed. Policyholders can opt for a higher premium to lower their hurricane deductibles.
Wind or hail deductibles – This type of deductible works like hurricane deductibles and is common in areas that experience severe windstorms and hail. It’s typically paid in percentages between 1% to 5%.
Other deductibles – Some deductibles, such as flood and earthquake insurance, may not affect gutters directly, but are worth understanding. Any condition that results in damage to roofing or siding will likely cause the same to the gutters.
The Importance of Understanding Your Policies
People tend to remember to check their policies after the fact, which usually is a difficult time because, by then, they’d be juggling calls from contractors, finding accommodation for the family and documenting the extent of the damage. Read and understand your insurance coverage as soon as it’s convenient. Talk to your insurance provider about parts that are unclear to you.
Knowing the extent of your insurance coverage beforehand can help reduce the stress of handling damaged gutters, especially if other parts of the house are also damaged. Lastly, if your gutters are still within warranty, take the time to understand the extent of its coverage. Your insurance may pay for whatever the warranty does not cover; one does not replace the other.
Northeast Gutters and Remodeling is your leading provider of gutter cleaning, repair and installation services. Give us a call at (860) 899-7878. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.