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Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Replacement

Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against conditions like wind, rain, heat, and hail. It’s also one of the leading reasons why homeowners file insurance claims.

Estimates of U.S. roof claims exceeded $19 billion in 2021, making up nearly one-third of all property loss dollars, according to analytics firm Verisk.

Most of the time, insurers will pay these claims. But there’s still no guarantee you’ll get a new roof if the one you have gets damaged.

Although it’s safe to assume that a standard homeowners policy will pay to replace a roof that’s been damaged or destroyed by unexpected events, it’s important to be aware of coverage exceptions and limitations.

These exceptions range from age and deterioration to damage caused by overgrown tree branches. And if you live in a disaster-prone area, you may need to pay a separate deductible for any damage caused by events like tornadoes and hurricanes in order to get a replacement.

Let’s take a look at some of most important things to know about roof replacement coverage, and what steps to take to make sure your policy will help you keep a roof over your head, so to speak.

Roof insurance coverage explained

A roof is considered a major component of a home’s structure. So the dwelling, or structural portion of any standard homeowner’s policy will protect a roof from various named perils. You can purchase additional coverage if you want more protection.

As long as you keep up with your premiums, you’ll be able to file a claim if your roof is damaged or destroyed in a disaster or some other uncontrollable event. Once approved for a new roof, you’ll need to pay your homeowner’s insurance premium before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest. Depending on the frequency of certain disasters where you live and the type of damage to your roof, you may need to pay multiple deductibles, such as a hail or hurricane deductible on top of your homeowners deductible.

What’s covered by homeowners insurance?

Typically, a homeowners policy will pay for a roof replacement if the damage was caused by any of the following:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Lightning
  • Fire and smoke
  • Weight of snow, ice and rain
  • Hail damage
  • Wind damage
  • Vandalism

What’s not covered by homeowners insurance?

When roof damage is caused by something that’s within the homeowner’s control, insurers are less likely to pay for a replacement. You won’t get reimbursed if the damage can be traced back to any of the following:

  • Older roofing. Although it may be tempting to hold out on replacing your roof until disaster strikes, this isn’t the best way to win over insurers. Insurance can be hard to come by once a roof is over 20 years old.
  • Poor maintenance. Insurers won’t pay to replace a roof that starts leaking because of wear and tear or maintenance issues.
  • Overgrown trees. If it’s been a while since you last trimmed your trees and an overgrown branch punches through your roof, it’s unlikely your insurance company will pay for repairs or replacement.
  • Pest damage. Roof damage from pests like rodents and termites generally isn’t covered under a standard policy.
  • Cosmetic damage. If a hailstorm caused only a few small dings to your roof shingles, an insurer may classify that as cosmetic damage, which is excluded from coverage.
  • Ice dams. When ice accumulates on the eaves of your roof, it can cause roof damage that often isn’t covered by insurance. This would be considered a maintenance issue because ice dams form when snow buildup isn’t regularly removed.

How a roof’s age affects insurance

A roof’s age is its biggest indicator of whether or not you can get insurance for it, as well as how much a policy will pay out for a roof replacement.

Older roofs tend to make it harder to get roof damage coverage. That’s because deterioration makes a roof more susceptible to damage, and thus more likely the homeowner to file a claim. In fact, once a roof reaches a certain age or condition, an insurer may refuse to renew a policy outright until the homeowner pays out of pocket to get it replaced.

Unless it can pass an inspection, a roof that is over 20 years old generally won’t qualify for a traditional homeowners insurance policy. The roof could be covered for only its actual cash value, meaning its value after depreciation, but not for the full replacement cost. So your insurance payout would cover a portion of the replacement cost, but it wouldn’t account for the cost of new materials and labor expenses.

Separate deductibles

Homeowners who live in a part of the country where major storms are frequent may have to pay a separate deductible to cover damages from wind, hail, and hurricanes.

In coastal states with regular hurricanes, homeowners are required to pay a separate deductible whenever damage is caused by a named storm. For homeowners in tornado-prone states, wind and hail deductibles are required in order to cover the cost of a damaged roof. 

Keeping costs down

The average national cost for installing a new roof is around $14,000. As one of your home’s big-ticket items, the condition of your roof can significantly factor into the cost of your homeowners policy. Here are some steps you can take to lower your premiums while keeping your roof in fully insurable shape.

• Keep your roof in good condition through regular maintenance.

• Schedule periodic inspections.

• Clear out gutters and remove debris.

• Keep trees trimmed.

• Make sure the roof isn’t collecting water and ice.

• Invest in durable roofing materials.

Improving the odds

There are a few things you can do to increase the chances that your insurer will pay to replace your roof.

Collect before and after pictures of your roof. You’ll want to supply your insurer with clear evidence of what caused the damage.

Find a reputable roofing company. An experienced roofer can conduct an inspection of your roof, identify damages, and even put together a report for your insurance company. If you don’t hire your own inspector, the insurance company will send out a third-party inspector of their choosing who may be working in the insurer’s best interest, and not yours. The Better Business Bureau can assist in this search.

Follow protocols for filing claims. Make sure you file a detailed claim within the insurer’s required time frame. Even if the claim is rejected, you can collect additional evidence and file an appeal.