|Solar panels are a great way to offset energy costs, reduce the environmental impact of your home, and you could even earn tax credits or rebates.
However, if there is a loss to the panels, paying to replace a damaged system could be a huge financial burden for some homeowners. Being able to insure that investment against damage from a storm or other damaging event could be key in whether or not you choose to add solar panels to your home.
Here are some things to know about insurance coverage and home solar panels.
Connect with your insurance agent – Before installation or when considering installation, let your agent know what the cost of the panels is, and where they are being installed so that the agent can make sure you’re properly covered.
Owned solar panels – As fixed attachments to your roof, solar panels are considered part of the home, which means insurance coverage is included in most homeowners insurance policies under the Dwelling coverage and no separate solar panel insurance is needed. Solar energy systems and the rooftop panels or tiles are largely considered a permanent attachment to your property, like a patio or a security system.
Make sure to check the details of your policy to confirm you have enough Dwelling coverage to pay for repairs or replacement of your home including the cost of the solar panel system.
It’s important to note that some policies may exclude damage to these attachments when it's caused by a particular threat, such as wind or hail.
Leased solar panels – If you lease panels from a solar power company, it's up to the company to correctly insure the solar panels.
Unusual paneling – Ground-mounted solar panels or solar panels attached to a garage are considered Other Structures on your insurance policy. These structures usually have a coverage limit which determines how much the insurance company will pay for repairs or replacement. Often this amount is 10% of the Dwelling coverage. If you have more than one outbuilding, damage can add up quickly after a severe storm or a brush fire. Make sure you take a look at your homeowners policy to be sure you have enough Other Structures coverage in case of a catastrophe.
Claim Avoidance - Before installing solar panels, have your roof inspected to make sure that it has the structural integrity to sustain the solar panels, especially if you're in a climate that is prone to snow, which can add even more weight on top. Then, be sure to choose a reputable installer that’s certified.
Once installed, solar panels require very little maintenance. You may consider hosing them down or squeegeeing them a couple of times per year to remove dirt and debris, or scheduling professional cleanings if they’re difficult to access. It’s also a good practice to have the system inspected annually to see if any repairs are needed.
Understand your policy - know the perils there are covered and the ones that are not. Know where your deductible is and know how it applies when responding to certain perils such as wind and/or hail. If you don't know or you're not sure, call your insurance agent to review the coverages with you.
Don’t wait until a storm is heading your way to ask the question “Are my solar panels covered by my homeowners insurance?”