Are blocked gutters lined by home insurance? – Canstar
In many areas of Australia we can experience heavy rain events – be it over several days or a mass flood in an afternoon. However, when it starts raining and you find that your house gutters are overflowing, it can cause damage to your property.
We check whether damage caused by overflowing gutters is likely to be covered by your home insurance and what measures you can take to prevent this.
Is damage from leaky or overflowing gutters insured?
The answer to whether damage is caused by water leaking from your gutters depends on it. It depends on whether the gutters were fully functional before the weather event and whether the damage was creeping. In other words – did you have your gutters serviced?
Be sure to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target market determination (TMD) so your policy understands what's covered and what's not. In general, here is an overview of what can and cannot be covered by household insurance:
What can be covered
At the time of writing, all home insurance policies in Canstar's database include coverage for "Liquid leakage". Suncorp insures, for example, damage caused by leaking, overflowing or bursting water from drains, fixed pipes, gutters or gutters and downpipes, drainage and sewage systems. This is usually associated with sudden and unexpected damage, such as a tree falling on the roof.
What must not be covered
While most home insurance policies cover water damage, there is often a clause that excludes damage that could have been prevented with regular reasonable maintenance. These include gutters that:
- are blocked by leaves or dirt
- Gradually leak over time with no action being taken to correct the issues
- have exceeded their recommended service life without being replaced.
For example, AAMI states on their website that their home insurance policies do not cover damage caused by wear and tear or neglected repair or maintenance issues that the policyholder would have reasonably been aware of.
It is important to note that this damage cannot be limited to the gutter. For example, clogged gutters can cause water and moisture to build up in the roof, with the potential for mold or the inner roof to collapse; or accumulation of water on the foundation of the building, which can lead to cracks or structural damage. Damage caused by gutters that are not reasonably maintained are not insured.
For this reason, it is important that you regularly check the condition of your gutter, know the end date of the recommended life, and regularly remove all debris. When cleaning your gutters, it's important that you follow safety protocols to avoid injury or get a roof plumber to help. Personal safety when working at height to clean gutters is extremely important.
Tips for caring for your gutters
Grayson’s Gutter Cleaning owner, Grayson O'Connor, recommended cleaning gutters at least once a year and not leaving them until it rains. He also said that security is very important and gave the following tips.
- Read the guidelines on the side of the ladder and follow them carefully.
- Never skip the rungs when climbing up and down the ladder as this can lead to slipping and is a common cause of injury.
- Invite someone to hold the ladder for you.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands.
The ACCC recommends never using a ladder when you are alone and provides one Number of safety tips for home improvement on his website. Remember that falling from a ladder could cause serious injury or death, and it is important to follow safety precautions.
It might be a good idea to hire a reputable roofing plumber or professional to clean your gutters as they will likely do the Safety equipment required and can tell you whether maintenance or repair work is required. You can find online reviews and testimonials for services in your area.
Compare home insurance
It is a good idea to check your home and home insurance to understand what is and what is not, and so can you Compare guidelines with Canstar to find one that best suits your needs.
Source of the cover picture: alenacepl / Shutterstock.com