It’s a question that homeowners across the country ask as they face the aftermath of devastating storms or unexpected damage: will insurance cover my roof replacement?
The answer, unfortunately, is not always straightforward. While most home insurance policies do include coverage for roof damage, the specifics of what is and isn’t covered can vary from policy to policy. And in some cases, whether or not your insurance will cover roof replacement costs may come down to a matter of interpretation.
There are, however, some general principles that can help you understand whether or not your home insurance policy will cover the cost of a new roof.
This article will explore the types of damage typically covered by home insurance policies, the process of choosing between a roof replacement and repair, and some factors you should consider when making a claim.
We’ll also offer some tips to improve your chances of getting covered for your new roof and a few to prevent roof issues in the first place.
How Roof Insurance Coverage Works
Homeowner’s insurance covers the full breadth of your property, but it might get used most often for the roof, which receives the most exposure to the elements of nearly all areas of the home. The dwelling coverage portion of your insurance policy usually protects homeowners from damage and destruction from qualifying events.
Most home insurance policies will cover what is known as “sudden and accidental” damage to your roof, which generally includes damage caused by severe weather events or acts of God like hail or windstorms, as well as tree limbs falling on your roof. In some cases, it may also cover damage caused by fire, lightning, or the weight of ice or snow.
It’s important to note that while most home insurance policies will cover sudden and accidental damage, they typically will not cover damage that has occurred over time due to wear and tear. For example, if your roof is leaking or has other issues due to age or poor maintenance, your insurance policy is unlikely to cover the cost of repairs or replacement.
Types of Damage
Now that we’ve established that most home insurance policies will cover sudden and accidental damage to your roof, let’s take a look at some of the specific types of damage typically included in this coverage.
As we mentioned above, one of the most common causes of roof damage covered by home insurance is severe weather, but that does not include flooding or earthquakes.
High winds, hail, and heavy rains can all cause damage to your roof, which your insurance policy may cover. In some cases, your insurance may even cover damage caused by tornadoes or hurricanes.
Another common type of roof damage typically covered by home insurance is damage caused by falling objects. Falling objects could include a tree limb falling on your roof during a storm or even a satellite dish that comes loose and crashes through your roof.
The third type of damage often included in home insurance policies is fire damage, which an actual fire could cause, lightning striking your roof or even sparks from a nearby wildfire.
Finally, another kind of damage that policies usually include in home insurance coverage for roofs is weight-related damage, which includes damage caused by the weight of ice, snow, or even water pooling on your roof.
Remember that your insurance company classifies all damages as either damage from a covered loss or normal wear and tear. If your roof is old, and your insurance company determines that the damage occurred due to your negligence or lack of maintenance, they may be less likely to approve coverage of your roof claim.
Roof Repair vs. Roof Replacement
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when filing an insurance claim for roof damage is whether to repair or replace your roof.
In most cases, insurance companies will cover the cost of either roof repairs or a complete roof replacement, but there are a few things you’ll need to consider before making a decision.
Quick Guide to Roof Repairing or Replacing
Use this quick guide to help determine whether you should repair or replace your roof.
- Minor damage in just one area? Repair it.
- Repair costs close to or equal to the cost to replace? Replace it.
- Is the roof under ten years old? Repair it.
- Is the roof over ten years old? Replace it.
- Plan to sell your home soon? Replace it.
- Will new shingles have an impact on curb appeal? Replace it.
We know that every situation is nuanced, so if you’re still unsure, use the tips below to determine which route to take.
1. Assess the Damage
If the damage is significant, or if more than one layer of your roof is damaged, you’ll likely need to replace your roof. If the damage is minor, or if only one layer of your roof is damaged, you may get by with just repairs.
2. Consider Your Roof’s Age
If your roof is old and nearing the end of its lifespan, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to replace it rather than repair it. If your roof is relatively new, repairs may be the best option.
3. Take Your Deductible Into Account
In most cases, you’ll need to pay your deductible before your insurance company begins to cover your roof claim. So, if your deductible is $1,000 and the cost of repairs is $2,500, you’ll be responsible for paying $1,000 out of pocket.
However, if a replacement roof costs $10,000, your insurance company will likely cover the remaining $9,000.
4. Consider the Cost
Finally, you’ll need to consider the cost of repairs versus the cost of replacement. In some cases, it may be more expensive to repair your roof than to replace it.
However, replacement may not be necessary in other cases, and a few tiny repairs can be the most cost-effective.
Your insurance company will ultimately decide whether to cover the repair or replacement of your roof. However, if you prefer one or the other, let them know when you file your claim.
What To Consider
When deciding whether or not to file an insurance claim for roof damage, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.
If your roof is old and the damage is significant, you may want to consider replacing it rather than repairing it. However, if the damage is minor and your roof is new (<10 years old), you might decide to repair the damage instead of asking for a total replacement.
You’ll also need to take your deductible into account. If the cost of repairs is close to or equal to your deductible, it may not be worth it to file a claim. Instead, just get the repairs done yourself.
However, if you think you need a new roof, reach out to your insurance company and file a claim, and you (hopefully) won’t have to shoulder the financial responsibility on your own.
Increasing the Likelihood of Coverage
If you want to increase the likelihood that your insurance company will cover the cost of replacing your roof, keep up with regular maintenance. Create a self-service schedule that includes regular inspections and cleanings to catch any minor issues before they turn into big ones.
You should also keep any receipts or documents related to past repairs or maintenance on your roof to show your insurance company if you need to file a claim.
Other policy exclusions might relate to whether you used certain roofing materials, like expensive cedar, or whether your roof has another layer of material hidden below the top.
Call your insurance provider to start your claim on the right foot after a storm or other damaging incident and request a roof inspection.
Collect a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy, any other inspection reports, pictures of damage, and the receipts you previously gathered so you can show the inspector when they arrive. Plus, any “before” roof photos can help illustrate the damage.
Preventing Roof Issues
You can do a few different things to prevent roof damage in the first place.
- Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and clear of debris to ensure water can flow freely away from your roof and foundation.
- Trim any trees or branches close to your roof to prevent them from falling and causing damage in a storm.
- Have your roof inspected and serviced regularly by a professional to catch any minor problems before they turn into big ones. Aim for one to two times per year.
By following these tips, you can help keep your roof in good condition and increase the likelihood that your insurance company will cover any damage that does occur, should it happen.
The Bottom Line
No one wants to deal with the hassle and expense of a damaged roof. Make sure you understand your insurance policy and take proactive steps to maintain your roof so you can help prevent problems before they occur.
If damage does happen, knowing what to do and having all the necessary documentation on hand will help you get the coverage you need to make repairs or replace your roof. Now all that’s left to do is go into the process prepared and hope for the best.