Maintain your roof to ensure building insurance cover

Homeowner’s insurance policies are sometimes difficult to follow and even more difficult to remember. For most people, these policies only feature in their lives when something goes wrong and they submit a claim. When insurance claims are rejected because of exclusions, or because the homeowner hasn’t complied with the policy terms and conditions, misunderstandings can arise. 

Insuring the buildings on your property against damage is crucial, but you also need to understand what you must do to meet the terms and conditions on your homeowners insurance policy.

Maintaining your roof properly is a common condition of homeowner’s policies. You need to take care of this, so you will have a valid claim if your home is damaged by an insured event. 


The ultimate roof maintenance checklist

Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining your roof to prevent rejected claims in 1 handy checklist:

1. Inspect your roof regularly
You should inspect your roof at least twice a year, especially after severe weather events, to head off potential issues early enough.

2. Clear debris 
Keep your roof clear of leaves, branches or other debris that can cause water to pool and damage your roof structures.

3. Check flashings
Check and maintain your roof flashings (those thin pieces of waterproof material, such as aluminium, that seal joints in areas of your roof where water might leak in), to prevent interior mould and rot. Membrane flashings deteriorate, and galvanised flashings come loose – so check them regularly and replace them where necessary.

4. Keep gutters clear and in good repair
Keeping gutters clear, without holes or sagging, prevents water backup and roof leaks. This is especially important in autumn, to ensure the weight of collected leaves doesn’t loosen the gutters.

5. Check the ventilation between roof and ceiling
Proper airflow in your roof prevents the buildup of dampness and prolongs the lifespan of the roof.

6. Remove overhanging branches
This is a problem that affects suburban South African houses often. Overhanging trees can cause roof and gutter blockages and damage. Trim your trees to prevent this.


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7. Take immediate action
Repair any leaks or water damage you detect immediately, or they will get worse.

8. Keep maintenance records
An accessible record of your roof repairs will be of major help when you file an insurance claim. Keep records of inspections, repairs and so on.

9. Hire professionals 
Use licensed, reputable roofing companies for all your maintenance to ensure quality upkeep. 

10. Review your policy
Rejected insurance claims are often caused by policyholders not being aware of policy changes over the years. Keep a current copy of your policy wording and be aware of any policy changes.

11. Check that your plastic roof underlay is still intact
The plastic underlay ensures that minor leaks in tiles or corrugated iron roofs don’t pool on the ceiling, causing damage. Instead, the plastic channels any leaked water down to the gutters. Climb into the ceiling once or twice a year to check for any tears or holes in the underlay.

12. Check the direction of your gutter spouts
Check that the spouts at the bottom of gutter downpipes point away from your walls to prevent dampness.

Specialised roofing maintenance tips

Apart from these general checklist items, you should also follow these tips according to your roof type:

Metal roofs

  • Replace and seal loose or missing roof screws and washers as often as necessary.
  • Reseal joints and overlaps between the sheets.
  • Replace all rusted roof sheets.
  • Repaint it regularly.

Tiled or slate roofs

  • Replace cracked or missing tiles and secure loose ones.
  • Secure ridge tiles and replace cracked or missing ridge cement. 

Thatched roofs

  • Remember that thatch has a lifespan of 10 to 20 years, depending on weather conditions.
  • Have it combed every 2 years.
  • Cover it with a fire protection liquid.
  • Install a lightning conductor.

Did you know that you can save by having your building insurance bundled with other forms of short-term insurance for your house contents, valuables and vehicles if you choose Nedbank MyCover Insurance?