Your gutters are part of your house, so they're covered by homeowners insurance. That doesn't guarantee your insurer will pay up when you file a claim. Your policy identifies the "perils" your insurance protects against: If your gutters were broken by some peril that isn't covered, you're out of luck.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
As long as your gutters were damaged by a covered peril, your homeowners insurance will pay for their repair or replacement.
Choice of Perils
Your homeowners insurance either protects you against "named perils" or against "all risks." A named-perils policy kicks in when damage is caused by one of the listed events, such as fire or theft. Under all-risks insurance, damage to your gutters is covered unless the policy specifically exempts the cause of the damage. Most homeowner policies cover all risks because mortgage lenders want your house protected against as much damage as possible.
All-risks coverage usually pays off if your gutters are broken by wind damage, falling objects, vandalism or fire. Most policies exclude claims due to earthquake damage, flooding or acts of war. However, you can purchase separate flood insurance to cover your home.
In some parts of the country, special rules prevail. Near the Hurricane-prone Gulf Coast, for example, you may not be able to buy a policy that includes wind coverage. General wear and tear, such as a gutter that breaks from rusting through, is never covered.
The Importance of Maintenance
Insurance doesn't pay to maintain your gutters, but it's important to care for them anyway. Broken or clogged gutters can send water seeping through your roof or allow it collect in your basement and weaken your home's foundation. If your insurer decides you haven't practiced basic maintenance, it could refuse your claim. Even if it pays out, damage less than your deductible won't be covered. Avoiding needless water damage is better for your budget.
To maintain your gutters, make sure to clean them regularly. Completing this chore can protect against rotting, pests, and foundation problems. While you're cleaning your gutters, look for wear and tear that you can easily fix. For example, if you see broken connections or small holes, go ahead and make those repairs before they become big problems.
Ice and Snow
Most homeowner policies cover damage to your gutters from ice and snow building up in them. If an ice dam forms and blocks up the gutter, snow or rain has nowhere to go but through your roof. This damage is covered. Once you discover the damage, however, your insurer expects you to minimize it.
If you find water from melting snow seeping through your roof and don't move furniture from under the leak, your insurer might not pay for all the damage. Be sure to document all damage from the storm, what you did to minimize damage, all contact you make with the insurer and any additional costs you have related to the incident.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.