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Will insurance cover a 20-year old roof?

Sep 10

A standard residential property insurance claim covers your roof and the costs of replacing it if it is damaged. This is the good news. However, coverage is usually limited to damage or destruction that results from an accident or natural disaster. Because they are the homeowners' responsibility, problems arising from normal wear and tear or roofs exceeding their intended lifespan will not be covered.

How Roof Coverage Works

The roof is the most exposed part of your home. Heavy snow, hail and ice storms are a significant threat in northern climates. The Midwest is also prone to tornadoes and cyclones. Tropical climates can lead to gales or hurricane-force winds.

Mother Nature can cause direct damage and other havoc, such as a windstorm that flings a tree onto your roof. Wildfires are possible. There could also be other unlikely events, such as something falling on the roof from above--such as debris from an aircraft or explosion.

The roof is integral to your home's structure, so your homeowner's insurance policy usually covers you against such perils. The homeowner can get a partial or complete replacement of their roof if it is damaged or destroyed by such events. Roofs older than 20 years are often excluded from coverage. They may be covered only for their cash value, not their replacement cost.

Your coverage will not kick in unless you pay the policy deductible. You will need to pay your policy deductible for damage caused by hail storms or hurricanes. Residents who wish to protect their properties in these areas will need additional coverage or a separate hurricane insurance policy. Anyone who needs additional protection or higher coverage can also purchase it.

Roof Coverage: Special Considerations

Coverage is possible for dramatic events, such as a roof falling, a large hole in the roof, or a complete roof tear-off. Even if the damage was caused by nature, it is more problematic. Let's suppose intense thunderstorms damage many of your roof's shingles. 

Your insurance company might consider this cosmetic damage and deny coverage. Let's say your roof leaks after the storm. The insurance company may claim that the storm caused it. However, this is not covered.

Ironically, your all-perils policy would cover any water damage to your walls, floors or furniture due to a leaking roof. The roof repair would not.

Roof Problems Preventable

Properly maintaining and caring for your roof is your responsibility. Different materials can last between 15 and 100 years. Other steps homeowners can take to protect their roofs include hiring licensed professionals to conduct regular inspections. In the hope of gaining future business, many roofing companies will inspect your roof for free. However, don't be surprised to find lots of problems.

Your roof should be free from debris and not collect or hold water. Trees touching the roof or hanging above it should be cut back. Check your roof after a long snowstorm to ensure the gutters and shingles are in good condition. You should ensure that your roof and home comply with current building codes if you live in windy areas.

Get reimbursed for roof replacement.

Your roof is not your friend. A roof's value will decrease every year, even if made from a durable material like slate. Many insurers won't pay for roofs over a quarter century old. You may also be exempted from insurance if you do not maintain your roof correctly or neglect to use certain roofing materials, such as cedar or recycled shake shingles.

First, call your insurance company to inspect the roof. This will give you the best chance of covering your roof by their policy. Gather as much documentation as possible before they arrive. This includes a copy of your current home insurance policy and any home inspection reports. Also, receipts for any repairs you have done. 

Photos of any damage should also be taken. It's always a good idea to take photos of your roof as it is healthy. All of these photos will help in the claims process. The insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the damage and make an assessment.

Tips to save on new roof costs

An average cost for a roof replacement is between $1.50 and $4.50+ per sq foot, depending on the type of roofing material. You might find someone who can help you for less on asphalt shingle repairs. You will pay more for metal and tile roofs. Here are some ways to reduce your repair and replacement costs.

  1. Do your homework: Determine the size and complexity of your roof and what materials you would like to use before speaking to contractors.
  2. Compare prices: Ask for quotes from multiple roofers. Always request references and ask questions before you hire someone. Avoid low bids, as they could indicate subpar work. Also, ensure that your roofers provide a warranty for materials and installation.
  3. It's a good idea: Roofers work most efficiently in the fall and summer. You may get lower prices and discounts if you schedule your roof replacement for late winter or spring.
  4. You can do it yourself (or part of it). You might consider doing some of the work yourself. Removing old roofing before the installer arrives can help reduce costs if you have the right equipment and the time.

An overlay is a method of installing new shingles over existing shingles. Overlays are less labor-intensive than total replacements and require less time because the old roofing remains in place. An overlay can void or reduce the warranty of roofing materials. Due to the increased labor costs and waste, overlays can also increase future replacement costs.