When it comes to roof repairs, costs can be daunting, especially when it comes to certain types of roofs. Whether your roof is damaged in a storm, fire, or other such event, you’ll want to know whether the costs of repair, or even replacement, are covered by your insurance.
Your home insurance does indeed cover your roof, but this coverage is limited to certain instances. The coverage depends on your specific insurance policy, as well as the cause of the damage to your roof. Certain perils are covered, while others – such as damage caused by wear and tear – are not.
It’s important to be able to determine what has caused the damage to the roof. Once this has been determined, you will need to go through your insurance documentation to establish whether this specific peril is indeed covered by your policy. (Related: Does A Home Warranty Cover Your Roof? We Help You Figure Out)
What is Usually Covered by Insurance?
Most insurance policies cover your roof for damages caused by acts of nature, as well as sudden accidents. This cover can include an entire roof replacement if this is deemed necessary, or it can apply to a simple roof repair to the affected parts of the roof.
The roof of your home is subjected to the harshest aspects of inclement weather conditions. From heavy snow in certain regions, to tornadoes and cyclones in the Midwest, and the hurricanes and gales found in tropical regions, your roof is forced to endure it all.
Not only can these forces of nature cause direct damage to your roof, but there are also indirect instances, for example a storm causing a tree to fall over onto your roof, which are also usually covered by your insurance.
There are other, more unlikely instances where your roof may be damaged, such as falling debris from an aircraft. These events are also covered by insurance in most cases, but this depends, as always, on the policy itself.
The dwelling coverage section of your homeowners’ insurance policy will state exactly what is covered by your insurance. Thanks to the insurance, homeowners qualify for a partial or full replacement of their roof in the event that the roof is damaged by those perils covered in the policy.
A major consideration is the insurance deductible. This is an amount which needs to be paid before the policy will pay for any incurred damages. In certain areas with a higher risk factor for hurricanes etc., this deductible is much higher.
The majority of standard homeowners’ insurance policies will cover a host of different perils, including but not limited to damage as a result of:
What Is Usually Not Covered by Insurance?
There are many potential perils which may not be covered by your home insurance policy. These are not covered for several reasons, and these reasons vary according to the particular peril itself. Floods, for example, are excluded from most home insurance policies.
Other perils may not be covered or may be subject to different clauses dependent on the specific risks which are common to your region.
Some of the perils which are usually excluded from home insurance policies include damage caused by:
General wear and tear are major factors to consider when it comes to insurance coverage. Wear and tear are generally not covered by insurance policies, and so any damage which occurs as a result of wear and tear will not be paid for by the insurance.
Wear and tear or neglect will often result in a roof which is not fully performing its function. This means that the insurance company cannot be held liable for any damage which occurs to property as a result of this.
General maintenance of the roof is required by the homeowner in order to ensure that the roof is always able to perform its function fully. Therefore, any roof that has not been properly maintained and is deteriorating cannot be covered by insurance. Due to this, roofs which are over the age of 20 years are most often given extremely limited coverage, if any.
On some occasions, contractors may make errors in construction of the roof, or materials may not be up to code. This is also not covered by insurance.
Roof leaks are often an extremely contentious issue when it comes to insurance. This is because the coverage of the repairs depends on the cause of the leak. Some insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for leaks.
For example, if the leak in your roof is caused by major storm damage, then the cost of the repairs should be covered by your insurance. This is because storm damage is a peril which is covered by the insurance policy, and whatever resultant damage caused by the storm damage is in turn fully covered by the insurance.
For example, a storm could have blown off a large segment of your roof’s shingles. As a result, the rain was able to make its way into the roof, causing major damage to the interior of the roof and perhaps even to the interior of the house. The repairs in this instance would most likely be covered.
If the leak in your roof is caused by something such as a worn-out structure or missing tiles, then the repair will not be covered by insurance. This is due to the fact that this an issue of wear and tear, neglect, or poor maintenance, and so the insurance is not liable to pay for repairs.
This is why it is extremely important to carry out regular maintenance and regular checks on a roof to ensure that there are no small issues which could potentially cause leaks in the future.
This type of preventative maintenance is essential in ensuring you don’t have to pay enormous bills for roof repairs in the future as a result of damage from leaks which could have been avoided.
It is sometimes difficult to determine what has caused the leak, but a general rule is that if it was a sudden and accidental event that caused a leak to occur, this will usually be something that is covered by your insurance.
Wind & Hail Damage
Wind and hail damage is another contentious issue which has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. Insurance companies have had to pay out enormous amounts of money to pay for damage caused by wind and hail.
As a result of this, many insurance companies have put into place a series of separate levels of coverage which are different to those for damage caused by other factors.
Current policies for older roofs will allow you to purchase coverage for wind and hail damage which covers only the actual cash value of the roof in its current state. The reimbursement given by the insurance will be based on a depreciated figure determined at the time the repair is needed.
This is a major contrast to the coverage offered by replacement value, which is naturally more desirable, as this will ensure that you are able to repair or replace the roof at the cost of current construction prices.
If, however, the roof is relatively new and has been well maintained, it may be possible for you to purchase separate coverage for replacement cost of the roof for wind and hail damage. This means that you would be able to be paid the entire amount needed to have a new roof built.
Is It Worth Your While to File a Claim?
Whether it's worth your while or not to file a claim depends entirely on the severity of the damage to the roof. If the damage is extensive and would require a significant amount of work to be done in order to repair the roof, then it will be worth your while to claim from insurance.
A major deciding factor in claiming from insurance is your deductible. A deductible for a homeowners insurance policy can range anywhere between $500 and $2500. This amount has to be paid by you before you are able to receive any reimbursements from the insurance company.
If, for example, your deductible is $1000, and the repairs for which you are wanting to claim will only cost around $700, then it would not make any sense to try to claim this amount from the insurance.
Another factor to consider is that each claim filed may cause an increase in your insurance premium when you decide to renew your policy. This is because your home will be considered a higher risk to cover.
Having considered the above, it may be wise to pay for your own roof repairs unless the repair costs are considerably higher than the price of the deductible.
How to File a Claim
The first step in filing any claim is to review your policy very carefully. This will allow you to understand exactly what type of coverage you have and whether you are able to claim for the specific damages you have suffered to your own roof.
By reviewing your policy, you will be able to see what types of damages are excluded from being covered, and which damages you are actually able to claim for. You will also be able to understand whether your coverage will pay you for current cash value or replacement cost of the entire roof.
The next step is to have a look at the damage itself. You should be able to determine what has caused the damage, and what the scope of the actual damage is.
If, for example, you suspect that the roof damage has been caused by a storm, it is important that you inspect the entire home to ensure that no other major damage has been caused as a result of the storm, or as a result of the damaged roof.
Next, it will be a good idea to get an estimate on what the repairs to the roof will cost. It is important to note that this estimate should be based on repairing the roof to what was there previously, and not to a new standard of how you want things to change.
It is important to act quickly when it comes to roof damage, as any time delays can result in further damage to the roof, building and interior features. Another important item to bear in mind is that of keeping record of any maintenance done on the roof, as well as photographs.
Tips in Preventing Damage
In order to prevent damage in the first place, it is important to ensure good roof maintenance. This involves constantly keeping gutters clean, removing debris from the roof after storms, and trimming trees which hang over the roof to ensure they do not cause issues.
Each time there is a storm, it’s a good idea to inspect the interior and exterior of the house to ensure there is no roof damage. If there is, it’s important that you address any issues immediately.
If, for example, a section of your roof has been ripped off during a tornado or hurricane, you should prevent further damage as soon as possible by covering up the roof with a tarpaulin or some such material.
Preventing further damage is a requirement in many insurance policies, and so further damage incurred may not be covered by the policy if you do not take the necessary measures to ensure this does not happen.
While it’s clear that your home insurance will cover your roof repairs to a certain degree, it is important to note that there are numerous exceptions in which the insurance is not obliged to cover any costs for damage to your roof whatsoever.
It is extremely important, therefore, to look carefully through your policy documents to ensure that you understand the circumstances under which your roof repairs are actually covered, and when they are not.