When it comes to roof replacements, whether resulting from old age or damage, organising insurance comes very handy. But not everyone is familiar with how to go about it. Getting a new roof may be urgent, and it is important that you know how your policy works so you can get the roof work covered.
How Roof Coverage Works
Of all the parts of your home, the roof has the most direct exposure to the elements. For northern climates, roofs bear the weight of heavy snow, hail, or ice storms. In tropical climates, there is the potential for gales and hurricane-force winds.
Not only can Mother Nature do direct damage, but she can also trigger other sorts of havoc; like a violent windstorm that topples a tree onto your roof. Then there are the wildfires. Or there could be more unlikely incidents, like something crashing down on the roof from above – like debris from an explosion or aircraft.
Thankfully, the roof is an integral part of your home’s structure. So the dwelling coverage clause of your homeowner’s insurance policy typically protects you from such perils. Damage and destruction from such events qualify the homeowner for a total or partial replacement of the roof.
Coverage is often curtailed for roofs that are over 20 years old. They may only be insured for their actual cash value, not for their current replacement cost. Of course, you’ll still have to pay your policy deductible before your coverage kicks in.
Some policies, especially those written in certain high-risk locations, impose a higher deductible for damage that ensues from hurricanes or hailstorms.
So residents wishing to protect their property often have to purchase additional coverage, or a separate windstorm insurance policy. Of course, anyone who wants extra protection or a higher degree of coverage can purchase it as well.
Are there insurance coverage limitations on my roof?
Home insurance policies can include coverage limitations for roofs. It’s important to read the existing or proposed policy carefully to look out for those limitations.
You really need to understand your insurance, including its scope and exclusions. When it’s time to renew your policy, compare your cover with other insurance companies, especially if your policy contains a wood shake endorsement or an exclusion that applies to roofs over 20 years old.
Get a “qualified roofer” to inspect the roof and provide a written report, so you know the condition before any damage happens.
That way, if wind or hail strikes your house, you can show the insurance company that there was no pre-existing damage. You can also request a cost estimate for replacing the roof so that you can decide if the cost of a new roof outweighs the risk of being denied home insurance coverage.
Many companies limit appraisal for wind and hail roof damage during the claims process.
If the policyholder demands an appraisal, some insurance companies try to limit the appraisal’s scope to damages that they’ve agreed to instead of all of the damage that the insured party might find.
For example, if you have a metal roof and file a claim for hail damage, they may come back and say that the damage wasn’t caused by hail but by wear and tear due to age.
There can also be new cosmetic roof exclusions on many client policies, meaning the homeowner must pay for any updates that the insurance company deems “cosmetic.”
So, for example, if you have a metal roof and it gets hail dings in it, they won’t replace the roof because that’s cosmetic and doesn’t limit the functionality of the roof. That’s a really tricky criterion because it’s so subjective.
Special Considerations for Roof Coverage
If an event causes dramatic damage, such as the roof crashing down, developing a major hole, or if it’s torn off entirely, you’re likely to be covered. What’s more problematic are instances when the damage is less dramatic, even if an act of nature caused it.
Let’s say a violent thunderstorm nicks a bunch of your roof’s shingles. The insurance company may classify that as cosmetic damage, and not cover it. Or let’s say that, after the storm mentioned above, you notice your roof has become leaky.
Even though the rains triggered it, the insurance company might claim that’s a general wear-and-tear problem — reflecting your roof’s gradual deterioration (which is never covered).
Ironically, any water damage to your walls, floors, or furniture, caused by the leaking roof would probably be covered under the all-perils section of your policy. However, the roof repair itself would not be.
As we know, insurance can be a real pain. As your roofing contractors, we can make things easier because we only install roofs that are likely to be covered by your plan. Let’s now consider the steps you should take when filing an insurance claim for a roof replacement.
How to Get Homeowners Insurance to Pay for a Roof Replacement
Unfortunately, if you don’t follow the proper steps when filing a roof claim, your insurance company may deny your claim because of an administrative error. So it’s very important to know exactly how to get homeowners insurance to pay for your roof replacement.
Know Your Roofing Insurance Coverage
When you first notice damage to your roof, look at your homeowner’s policy and the roof coverage it offers.
This may take a bit of time if you’ve never paid much attention to your policy. But the information will help guide your financial decisions about roof repairs. You can also request a copy of your policy from your insurance agent.
The majority of insurance agencies offer two types of roof insurance: repair coverage and replacement coverage. Repair coverage usually reimburses the homeowner for a certain percentage of repair costs.
Replacement coverage provides for the replacement of a roof that’s beyond repair. These policies are more expensive and make it harder to get a claim accepted. That’s why it’s so important to document the damage and submit a claim as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, not all roof damage will be covered by homeowners’ insurance. Your coverage depends on your specific policy, your location, and the cause of the damage. For example, a hail storm that damages a roof may qualify for coverage because it’s an unusual and unpreventable event.
However, damage caused by certain types of events may not be covered because of the frequency of such events, or because the homeowner lacks coverage related to those specific events.
Or it could be that they didn’t take adequate precautions. If the roof damage was caused by you or an inexperienced (or unlicensed!) roofer, your roof replacement will likely not be covered either.
If you have questions about your roof coverage, call your insurance agent, and request more detail.
Understand your policy
There’s no better time to look over your homeowner’s insurance policy or contact an agent to get the full picture of the steps you need to be taking. When you have damage that needs to be dealt with immediately, contact your insurance company right away to submit a claim.
There are clauses and stipulations in policies where, if you wait too long, the roof replacement becomes null and void. It is also important to get clear about the details you provide the company, so they can have a better idea of what will be covered.
When it comes to an aging roof, your policy may only cover a portion based on the loss of value on your roof.
If there is ever a question or concern you have on your policy, contact your homeowner’s insurance to have a solid understanding of what they are willing to do for you.
Once you’ve submitted an insurance claim, an adjuster may come out to do an inspection and provide a final number on what they’ll pay you for a new roof replacement or a much-needed roof repair.
Be aware of contingency contracts
While everything may seem straightforward to you, it may not always be, depending on the roofing contractor you’re working with. Most roofers provide a free inspection and estimation of your roof.
But sometimes these estimates are muddled with contingency contracts that look like an inspection report to the customer. So, while you think you’re signing off on the inspection, you could be agreeing to have that company complete the work!
This is another reason you should always read what you’re signing!
Dealing with roof damage and insurance is never a fun thing to do. It can all be downright overwhelming. Just follow the steps above for a smooth and uncomplicated transition when getting a new roof.
Document the Damage and Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you determine that your roof’s damage is covered under your homeowner’s insurance (or you believe it should be), the next step is to document the damage. Take plenty of photos; not only of the outside damage but also of the interior of your home.
If you have a tall enough ladder and feel safe doing so, carefully climb it to take photos. Alternatively, you can use a drone with a camera, which would be safer! However, if you can’t assess all the damage safely, call an experienced roofing company for the inspection. You’re better off safe than sorry.
Note the date of the damage, as well. If a storm damaged your roofs you could find articles online matching the date of these damaging events to back up your claim.
After that, check your insurance company’s website for information about how to submit a claim.
Many policies require the homeowner to file their claim within a certain time frame after the event. You’ll want to know the protocol for your insurance company, as your claim may be denied if you wait too long.
Research Roofing Companies and Hire the Most Reputable
After you submit your roof insurance claim, seek out a reputable roofing company with insurance claims experience to perform a roofing inspection. They can look for damage and compile a report for your insurance agency.
If you don’t hire professionals for the inspection, your insurance company may pay someone to inspect the roof on their behalf. Because this third-party inspector represents the insurance agency, they may try to find any reason to deny your claim.
However, by taking charge and hiring your own inspectors, you give yourself the best chance to get your insurance to pay for your roof repairs.
But how should you choose a roofing company?
First, look for a company that provides both roof replacement and roof installation services for the most common roofing materials in your area, including shingle, tile, and metal roofing.
A reputable roofing company should also have a website and Google My Business page with reviews from other customers.
Make sure the roofers you choose have experience in dealing with insurance claims, as this will make it easier for them to communicate with your insurance agency and offer proof that your claim is valid.
A reputable roofing company will replace your roof correctly, without causing more damage or charging you an unreasonable amount. If you choose roofers with a poor (or no) reputation, then your future insurance claims could be denied due to prior improper installations.
Hire a Roofer that Will Fight for You
If the insurance company’s offer doesn’t pay for a replacement roof of the same quality, engage a good contractor to be your advocate. They will contact your insurer and press for more money so that they can do the job right.
You’d be surprised how well this strategy works. No insurance company wants contractors to spread the word that it won’t take care of its customers.
Beware of Insurance Scams and Storm Chasers
When insurance is involved, there is the potential for scammers to take advantage of you. In the wake of a big storm, scammers will canvas neighbourhoods with the promise of a free roof. Be aware that this is most likely not a legitimate business. The people going door to door are trained salespeople and will try very hard to convince you to sign on the dotted line.
As we discussed earlier, not all causes of damage to your roof are covered by insurance. An old and worn out roof does not warrant an insurance claim, so if the salesperson says it does, something is off.
They might also claim that the damage is so bad that you need to take action immediately. Another tactic is to claim to give you a good price because they happen to be in the area, but you have to act immediately. These aggressive sales tactics are warning signs that this is not a legitimate business.
There are several things you can do to try to identify scammers. For one, you should ask to see a copy of their liability insurance, and any other certificates a reputable roofing company should have.
It’s also better if they have a physical location in the area. Ask for an address and a business license. Finally, you should check for online reviews to see if there are any complaints about this business.
Take the Appropriate Next Steps in Your Roof Replacement Claim
After you submit your insurance claim and enlist a roofing company to offer supporting evidence, your insurance company has the discretion to make a decision.
After their allotted time frame (usually about 15 days), the insurance agent will let you know if your claim was approved or denied.
If they deny your claim, you can appeal the decision. These procedures differ according to each insurance company, so make sure to consult your insurance agent for guidance.
If your roofing claim is approved, you’ll be able to start working with your chosen contractors to complete your new roof installation. Once your roof is replaced, we recommend that you get it inspected regularly.
Not only will routine maintenance keep your roof in great condition, but it’ll make future roofing claims easier to get approved since you’ll have both written reports and photos noting the past condition of the roof.
Whether or not you’ve had a hassle getting your insurance company to give you a fair settlement, following these tips might get your insurance company to pay for your roof replacement if a future claim is necessary.