Your home insurance policy may not cover the cost to replace your entire roof if damaged. Often, insurance offsets the cost of repairs but does not replace the entire covering. Roof insurance claims are common home insurance issues. Understand how your insurance policy will respond before such a situation arises.
Note: This article is applicable to the majority of home insurance policies. However policies vary, so read yours or ask your agent.
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect the roof against certain sudden and unexpected events, such as damage by wind, hail, fire, or weight of snow. If damage is caused by such an event, the insurance policy will respond and pay to either repair or replace the roof. But despite what popular advertisements may lead you to believe, not all damage is covered.
Normal Wear and Tear Excluded
Homeowners insurance will not protect against normal wear and tear. Roofs are not permanent fixtures and have a limited lifespan. The life of many roofing materials is opens in a new window15 to 20 years, whereas others may be longer. Just like tires on a car, roofs are expected to wear out and it is the responsibility of each homeowner to maintain them in good repair and replace them when necessary. Similarly, damage caused by a worn-out roof or lack of proper maintenance is not covered.
How Insurance Responds During Specific Events
- Wind and Hail: Damage caused by these events is covered unless your policy specifically excludes it. However, most policies include coverage and will provide the cost to repair or replace a damaged roof. Notable exceptions include:
- Certain policies for older structures or rentals may pay based on a depreciated value. Reference the section on “actual cash value” at Property Insurance Valuation Options and consult your agent.
- Some policies in coastal wind-prone areas (North Carolina, Florida, etc.) exclude wind coverage and the homeowner is expected to obtain it separately.
- Hurricanes: Like wind, policies typically cover damage caused by hurricanes but may require a separate deductible, an additional policy, or a flood endorsement. Reference Homeowners Insurance Deductible – Know Your Options.
Water Leaks and Roof Insurance Claims
Water damage is a common homeowners insurance claim and is often covered. When an event causes damage to a home, such as a storm tears off shingles and water enters the home through the damaged roof, that is protected by home insurance. However, instances exist when water damage is not covered. For example, if the homeowner has not maintained the roof in good repair and it simply leaks, such water damage is not compensable. Water damage due to wind-driven rain where no other physical damage to the structure occurs is a common coverage issue as well. If such damage is caused by poor maintenance or faulty workmanship, coverage may be denied. However, each case is different, so we encourage you to report all such claims to your insurance company to determine if covered. Finally, damage caused by rising waters or an inundation of water to the local area is considered a flood and is excluded from most home insurance policies but flood insurance may be added or purchased separately.
Will Your Insurance Policy Pay to Replace the Entire Roof?
Home insurance policies will replace a roof if an event damages the entire surface, such as can be the case with a hurricane or hailstorm. However, if a roof is only partially damaged, the insurance company will likely opt to pay for repairs to only the damaged portion. Thus, if a storm brings a gust that blows off only a few shingles, homeowners insurance is only responsible to pay to repair the damaged area.
Is Insurance Required to Pay for Matching Shingles?
Insurance will pay to repair shingles with the same quality materials, but there is no requirement they match. Your contractor may provide you options and do their best, but matching shingles is often not possible. Even if the same manufacturer and color are available, new shingles will be a different shade than aged ones. Our claims team has found a few insurance companies provide an allowance for matching shingles, but not often. If the color difference is too drastic, the homeowner can pay the cost difference to replace the entire section or roof.
How Will My Policy Respond?
Although this article is applicable to the majority of home insurance policies in the U.S., some insurance companies are changing the way they handle roof insurance claims in an attempt to bring clarity. They do so by adding endorsements to the policy that specify how a roof insurance claim is handled. For example, one such endorsement specifies the percentage of replacement cost the company will pay depending upon the age of the roof and the roofing materials (composition shingle, metal, tile, slate, etc.). Such endorsements are still in the minority. Thus, though most policies are handled in the manners discussed earlier, in the end there is no substitute to familiarizing yourself with your specific policy.
How To Protect a Roof From Damage
Remove moss, lichen, & algae.
Clean and maintain.
Clean gutters of debris.
Prevent ice dams.
Repair or replace when needed.
Each homeowner must properly maintain their roof to avoid claims. Periodically, insurance companies will inspect homes and, if issues are identified, they will require repairs as a condition of continuing coverage. Review these tips on keeping your roof in top shape.
- Understand the life span of your roofing materials. Replace when needed.
- Treat and/or remove any damaging moss, lichen, or algae buildup.
- Keep the roof and gutters free of leaves, twigs, and debris
- Ensure proper drainage around your home or building to avoid standing water
- Hire professionals to inspect your shingles periodically
- Trim trees to prevent overhanging branches or limbs close to the house
- Remove snow build up to prevent collapse or ice dams
- Ensure your property meets current building codes
- Check for damage after big storms
- Obtain home insurance that addresses your needs
For more tips and common coverage questions, reference our homeowners FAQ’s.
Questions on your home insurance? Policies vary, so review yours carefully or contact your Bankers Insurance agent. We will help determine your risks and advise how to best cover them. Not a client of ours? Let us earn your business! Each of our clients is assigned a personal insurance agent and provided their email address as well as a phone number that rings right on their desk.