Chimney Problems Covered by Homeowner's Insurance

Only chimney professionals can identify certain types of chimney damage.

Chimney repairs can be expensive, so you may want your homeowner's insurance to cover the expense. When it comes to chimney repairs, however, only certain types of damage are covered by insurance, while many are not. To determine if you can claim the damage on your chimney, you must understand how your insurance policy offers coverage.

No Chimney Coverage

There is no part of your homeowner's insurance policy that deals specifically with chimneys, nor will you find any specific chimney coverage. Homeowner's insurance policies describe the types of damage for which they will pay, but these damages apply to the entire house, including but not limited to the chimney. In other words, the type of chimney damage your insurer will cover is the same type of damage it will cover if it happened to any other part of your home.

The Policy

If you own a standard homeowner's insurance policy, you probably have either a broad-form or special-form policy. Broad-form policies list 16 standard types of covered damage, including fire, lightning, theft, explosion and weight of ice and snow. Individual insurers may modify this list at their discretion. Special-form policies cover all types of damage except that which is listed in the exclusions section. If your chimney damage was caused by one of the covered perils, your insurer should pay the claim.

Common Chimney Claims

Though you should have coverage for damage from any of the listed or non-excluded perils in your policy, two of the most common chimney claims are lightning strikes and chimney fires. The chimney is often the highest point of your house, and many chimneys are capped with a metal mesh of some kind. These can attract lightning, which damages the chimney. Chimneys can also be damaged from within, if a fire escapes the firebox and chars or cracks the interior of the flue. Both of these damages are typically covered by homeowner's insurance.

Exclusions

Chimneys must be cleaned and maintained regularly to stay in proper working condition. Without proper maintenance, you may not even discover minor damage like flue cracks. If not repaired, minor damage can get worse and become a major expense to repair later on. Homeowner's insurance excludes damage from lack of routine maintenance and normal wear and tear. Since many types of chimney damage occur with the normal passage of time, or because you didn't maintain the chimney properly, many chimney claims get denied.

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