Save Me Time!
- Insurance doesn’t always pay when your roof is damaged.
- Even when it is covered, it may not pay as much as you expect.
- Even when it is covered, it may not be fixed to your liking.
- Keep reading to find out about the potential gaps in your roof coverage.
The Rest of the Story
Typically, if your roof is damaged, especially if the cause is a weather event, it is likely to be covered by insurance. Common examples of covered roof losses are hail, fire, wind, a tree or other object falling on the roof, and ice dams. Water coming through the roof following a loss event (e.g. wind removes shingles and rain comes in through the opening) is covered as well.
However, it’s not always that simple...
Replacement Values That Are Too High
A brief history lesson: When someone has roof damage to their home, what do they do? They call a roofer. What does a roofer do? Try to get the insurance company to pay for the damage.
Now, if it were that simple, we could end the article here. Unfortunately, it’s not.
There are some roofing companies out there who try to get the insurance company to pay for more than they should. In particular, they will take pre-existing damage and claim it was caused by the storm or fire or whatever event caused your insurance claim.
I know, hard to believe, right? So what did insurance companies do in response? Did they come up with better ways to assess what caused the roof damage? Of course not. Did they try to help you find a more honest roofer? Nope, too much work.
So what did they do instead? They blamed you, the customer! They decided to assume every homeowner is in cahoots with the roofer to screw the insurance company and they took coverage away.
Better yet, they never bothered to tell you they took coverage away. Which is why you still think you have full roof coverage!
What’s Changed (For the Worse)?
So let’s address some of the areas where you’re not covered. The most important of these is when you have an older roof, as insurers tend to not let customers know that they lose coverage as their home gets older and this can cause a significant financial burden.
One of the bigger changes in insurance coverage over the last decade has been insurance companies reducing coverage for homes with older roofs. What did they do and how might it impact you?
Many insurers now “depreciate” the value of your roof over time. This means that as your roof gets older, they will pay you less for a claim.
After ten years, you may lose 10-50% of your roof coverage (depending on your insurer and type of roof material) and another 1-5% every year thereafter.
Therefore, if you have a 15 year old roof and a $10K claim, the insurance may pay as little as $2,500 (actually less than that, because you still have your deductible to pay)!
Roof Depreciation By Age and Material
|Payout %||Asphalt Shingle||Cement or Clay Tile||Slate|
Note: The majority of US homes have asphalt roofs.
Wear and Tear
Insurance doesn’t pay for damage characterized as “wear and tear”. If your roof has a small crack and develops a leak, insurance will not pay. The insurance company expects you to do routine maintenance to prevent this damage.
Did you know, if your roof needs repairs, the insurance company doesn’t always have to use the same materials for the replacement tiles as you have for the rest of your roof? That’s right, you may end up with new shingles that don’t look the same as the ones next to them.
There are many different rules in insurance contracts regarding when the insurer will match your replacement materials to your existing ones and when they won’t.
How do you find out what your policy provides for? Well, you can ask your agent, but there’s a good chance they won’t even know without having to ask the insurance company directly.
What do you do if you find out you don’t have full matching coverage and you decide you want it? You can ask your insurance company if you can pay extra to have more coverage, but that may not be an option. You may need to find a new insurance company!
Raccoons, Bats, and Squirrels
Have a critter in the attic? Worse, didn’t know you had a critter in the attic until the roof started leaking and you find out it’s because a raccoon forced its way through the roof to keep warm in your attic?
Expect the insurance company to pay for the water damage and repair your roof? Not so fast! Insurance doesn’t usually cover damage caused by wild animals. You may be able to convince the adjuster that something else caused the damage, but that is a gamble.
If you suspect a raccoon, bat, squirrel, or other wild creature may be snooping around in your attic or under your eaves, call pest control to have it removed before it causes damage that insurance won’t pay for!
How Can I Help?
Do regular maintenance on your roof. If you see some damage, don’t wait for the next storm so you can ask the insurance company to pay!
Don’t believe the roofer when they tell you they can get the insurance company to pay for more than the current damage. It’s not a free lunch. Your insurance premiums will go up and you may even get your policy non-renewed!
Get pictures of your roof annually. No, this doesn’t mean climbing on the roof yourself with your phone! Have a professional or the insurance company take pictures that can be used as a baseline to compare to any future damage.
Let’s review what we learned with a quiz. Your roof value is depreciated to 80%. A hailstorm causes $5,000 of roof damage. Your deductible is $1,000. How much will you pay?
Click a choice above to reveal the answer!
Why is that correct? The insurer will only pay 80% of the $5,000 which is $4,000 and they will ask you to pay $1000.
However, you also have a $1,000 deductible which they will subtract from the $4,000 they cover.
Thus, the insurance company will pay for $3,000 and you have to pay for $2,000.
If you had full replacement coverage without depreciation, you would have only owed your $1,000 deductible.
On the other hand, if you had a wind and hail deductible, you would likely owe more than $2,000.
You can try our roof calculator to see more examples of what it might cost you to repair your roof if you don’t have the right coverage!