Storm on the Horizon: Leaky roofs, insurance truths and what you should know about El Nino.

Like a flat tire or spilt coffee, a leaky roof is one of those surprises in life that never seems to come at an opportune time. Sure, in the short term, a bucket and some patience will get you by. And then, more often than not, the leak is forgotten because, well, who thinks to fix leaks when the sun is out?

The problem is, if the weather prognosticators are accurate, El Nino has arrived and, like that annoying relative, plans to stick around for a while. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has classified the storm’s return as “very strong,”  and that means severe weather conditions, floods and extreme winds.

In fact, El Nino’s return is expected to bring with it the kind of harsh conditions we endured from 1997 to 1998, which caused 17 deaths and $550 million in damage across the state.

Unfortunately, this strong return means there’s a very real possibility that your home or business will sustain some kind of water damage. The chances of your insurance covering those damages, however, aren’t so concrete.

What difference does it make if you repair the roof? A big one.

Let’s say you incur water damage because your roof was in disrepair – remember that pesky leaks? You won’t be covered.

Let’s say your roof is in wonderful condition and does what it’s supposed to. If a nasty gust of wind rips your roof off and you sustain water damage because of it, you will be covered.

You can’t expect your policy to cover negligence; remember, insurance isn’t meant to excuse responsibility for keeping property in good repair. It will respond to a covered cause of loss, though, in order to return your property to the state it was in prior to whatever event might have damaged or destroyed it.

You can’t expect your policy to cover negligence; remember, insurance isn’t meant to excuse responsibility for keeping property in good repair.

In anticipation of the potential for water damage, I recommend taking a second look at your property policies. Sure, there’s plenty of fine print to read through, but it’s worth it. Being proactive here is key, and it will better prepare you for the literal storm on the horizon – and avoid any proverbial ones related to future claims.

Just in case you’re reading this as you realize you may have a leak or two, there are ways to provide appropriate temporary fixes for the time being. Both the and have great articles on this topic.

These storm-related circumstances are usually covered by either a flood form or a property form. Knowing which one does what and to what extent is the real secret here. There are also instances that just aren’t covered – though that doesn’t mean you can’t mitigate those risks with a good pregame strategy. Though the roofing industry is starting to feel the crunch of storm season, there’s still time to make the call. As with any home repair, do your due diligence and avoid the cheap and easy fix. It will always cost you more in the long run.

And let’s not forget, there’s a lot more than your roof to consider. How’s your foundation? What about your windows? Do you have a disaster plan ready?

Look into this stuff. It’s much easier to spot these kinds of problems and prepare when you don’t need a rain jacket – or a river raft. Just don’t wait for more storm clouds to motivate you.

And if anything comes up that doesn’t make sense, you can always give your broker a call – they’re pretty good with this stuff.





About Jonathan Schreter

In my role as an insurance broker and risk manager, I fight a daily battle against a little lizard who promises to save you 15% or more in 15 minutes or less and a woman named Flo who dresses in an apron and suggests that insurance is a product that you pull off the shelf when you need it.

Subscribe to the Bolton Blog