Updated: May 4
Roofing insurance claims can be complicated. Check the fine print on your homeowner's insurance policy before a storm or disaster damages your roof.
Homeowners insurance can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs after a storm or other disaster. However, insurance isn't always a cure-all. Some situations aren't covered.
To avoid unexpected costs with roofing insurance claims, you need to take a close look at your homeowner's policy.
Know the Policy Exclusions
Insurance companies often exclude certain items and repairs from coverage to protect themselves from fraud. For instance, your roof insurance won't cover you whacking your roof in with a sledgehammer to claim the insurance money. But exclusions aren't always that cut and dry, as each insurance provider covers roof damage differently. Check your policy to find out if yours has any of these common exclusions:
Insurance companies will often inspect the damage detailed in your claim. If your provider determines that the damage was due to improper roof maintenance, you’ll be responsible for the replacement costs.
Some insurance policies won't cover certain roofing materials, such as slate, recycled shakes or other "green" materials because of the extra maintenance costs. Make sure to check your policy before installing a new roof to ensure the cost will be covered.
Because it's impractical for insurance companies to cover a roof that’s nearing the time for replacement, many won't cover roofs more than 20 years old or so. If your insurance company has a restriction on your roof’s age, it's important to understand how a roof’s age is defined. While many homeowners will put new shingles over old, many insurance companies don't view this as a new roof. They calculate a roof’s age from the bottom layer of shingles. Also, most insurers won't insure a roof with more than two layers of roofing material.
Repair vs. Full Replacement:
In some cases, homeowners insurance will cover only roof repairs but not a complete replacement. Typically, insurance covers repairs, such as shingles missing after a storm. But if the damage means you need to replace the entire roof, your policy might not foot the whole bill.
Maintaining Your Roof
Because your insurance company won't cover damage caused by improper maintenance, it’s good to keep your roof in tip-top shape: • Have your roof inspected regularly by a trained roofing professional who can watch for areas that need repair. • Keep the roof clear of debris, such as leaves and sticks. Keep your gutters clean. • Remove any dead trees on your property that could possibly fall on your roof. Call Your Insurance Agent Before Repairs If disaster strikes, you might want to immediately call a roofer to fix your roof. But first, you should contact your insurance provider. If you make repairs not covered by your policy, you may be stuck with the bill when your insurance company denies the claim. It's important to remember that each policy covers roof repairs differently. It's easy to avoid the pitfalls of insurance roof claims if you understand your specific policy.