Does Home Insurance Cover Chimney Repair?
Yes, a standard homeowners insurance policy (HO3) covers chimney repairs if a covered peril caused the damage. Your chimney is considered part of your home's structure, so its coverage mirrors your dwelling's coverage. It does not cover maintenance or other uncovered perils.
Chimney damage can occur in several ways. It could result from a severe storm, a chimney fire, deterioration due to age, or lack of routine maintenance. Knowing how your standard insurance policy covers chimney damage requires an understanding of how your policy covers perils. It would help if you also understood which perils get excluded and why.
Homeowners Insurance Chimney Repair Coverages
Homeowners insurance policies cover chimney repairs if a covered peril caused the damage. The chimney must also be part of your home.
When you buy standard home insurance, it covers your home's structure and anything attached to your home's structure, including a chimney. The 16 perils (sudden and unexpected disasters) your standard homeowners insurance covers include the items in this chart. The chart also contains events (perils) that a standard homeowners policy excludes.
Does Home Insurance Cover Chimney Liability Claims by Others?
Yes. If your chimney cap flies off and hits a neighbor, your home insurance liability will cover you. If sparks fly out and set your neighbor's home on fire, your liability covers you. It pays for a lawsuit and settlements.
Homeowners Insurance Chimney Coverage Examples
How do these covered uncontrollable events and noncovered situations relate to your chimney repairs? Let's break it down.
Wear and Tear
Insurers consider maintenance to be part of a homeowner's responsibility. You are not covered if chimney damage occurs from normal wear and tear, neglecting small repairs, or lack of proper care. Regular chimney cleaning and those repairs fall on you as the homeowner.
If you cannot maintain your chimney, you can hire a certified chimney sweep. A chimney sweep is a person who can regularly inspect your chimney and provide chimney cleaning, repair, and maintenance services.
Most chimney damage is a result of wear and tear and age. Common chimney repairs because of wear and tear typically include:
- Chimney cleaning
- Masonry repair
- Flue repair
- Damper repair
- Chimney cover replacement
- Crack in the fuel
- Creosote buildup
- Mold buildup
- Flashing repair
- Liner repair
- Crack repair
- Cap problems
- Repointing and resurfacing
- Crown repair
- Mantel and firebox repair
However, if any of these problems happened from a fallen tree, tornado, or other covered peril, they are covered.
Water Damage to Your Chimney or Caused by Your Chimney
You would have coverage for water damage inside your home if it were caused by a sudden chimney leak -- not maintenance-related. E.g., a tree fell onto your chimney, breaking it during wind and rain storm, causing a water leak.
You must pay for damages if water leaks come from an unrepaired crack or a leak caused by poor flashing installation. You are also responsible for water seeping problems through a chimney wall or water coming down the chimney flue. You are responsible for roof maintenance, so roof leaks around your chimney are out-of-pocket.
Water Damage to Fireplaces in Basements
Water damages in basements have unique coverages. If your fireplace is in the basement, below ground level, and gets damaged by water, there are exclusions and inclusions. You are covered if a pipe bursts, or an appliance, sink, tub, pool, shower, or hot tub overflow. If the water heater breaks and causes a flood, you are covered.
Insurers exclude water damage to basement fireplaces if damages come from water seeped through basement walls or floors. Sewer backup and floods are also excluded.
The chimney crown can attract lightning strikes, which often starts a fire. You have coverage for damages caused by the lightning and the fire.
Your policy covers fires in all cases unless you live in California and other wildfire zones, or the fire was intentionally set. When a fire damages your chimney flue, or hot bricks cause the chimney frame to catch on fire, you are covered. Fires that cause broken tiles are covered. Chimney fires, house fires, and smoke damage are covered.
When strong winds cause flying debris or trees to fall and damage the chimney, you are covered. But strong winds alone huff and puff and blow your chimney down, you are not covered. The insurance company's view is that adequately built and maintained chimneys should withstand strong winds. However, damage from tornado and hurricane winds are covered.
Check your policy for wind coverage; sometimes, wind and hail are excluded or require an add-on or separate deductibles.
If structural and maintenance caused your chimney to lean, you are not covered. You must keep up with structural issues and maintenance that cause your chimney to lean. However, if your leaning chimney falls and causes damages, the damaged items are covered, but your chimney is not.
Chimney Damage by Others
If a construction company on your property damages your chimney, they are responsible for the repairs -- not your insurance provider.
Animal Stuck in the Chimney
If a bird, bat, or squirrel gets caught in your chimney, removal, or damage they cause is not covered. Your policy excludes birds, bats, vermin, and insect perils. Coverage for Santa: excluded.
Falling or Collapsed Chimney
If your chimney falls or collapses, your policy covers the damage it causes, including people who are hurt. That includes a piece of your chimney, like a brick that fell off.
The chimney itself is not covered if it topples because of age deterioration, low maintenance, or poor construction. Earthquakes are not covered by homeowners insurance, therefore if you experience an earthquake that damages your chimney, you will not have coverage unless you have extended earthquake insurance.
Chimney Rebuild or Chimney Restoration
If you are rebuilding or restoring because a tornado or hurricane damaged your chimney, that is covered. But, if your chimney is aging, deteriorating, or you want a new look, that is not covered. The same applies to chimney removal or demolition.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Outdoor Chimneys?
Outdoor chimneys are "other structures" according to your homeowners insurance policy. All the inclusions and exclusions mentioned apply to outdoor chimneys, except the coverage amount is less.
Outdoor structure policy limits are ten percent of your dwelling limit. So, if your house's structure has $250,000 of coverage, your outdoor chimney has $25,000 of coverage.
Chimney Damage Claims
First, take appropriate steps to limit further damage until you make permanent repairs. Temporary measures may include moving furniture, plugging leaks, or other actions. If you do not mitigate further damages, your insurance adjuster might not cover some damages. However, do not thoroughly repair anything until you file a claim and the adjuster has inspected the damage.
Once you, your family, and home are free from harm, contact your insurance agent or company, and file a claim. Have a certified chimney sweep assess the damage and provide a quote you can include in your claim.
If you have trouble with the insurance adjuster, we highly recommend asking your chimney sweep repair person to help. Have her join any calls or meetings when damages get discussed. Hiring a public adjuster is also invaluable. They know the insurance claims process and will fight for you.
I hope that helps!
At your service,