Your roof gets more exposure to nature than the rest of your home. It protects your home’s interior from hail storms, the weight of snow, and other perils. It also regularly gets beaten by sun damage and swaying branches.
The roof is a vital part of your home’s structure and falls under the dwelling coverage portion of your homeowners insurance. While roof replacement is usually covered in your policy, failing to maintain your roof can become costly.
In this post, I will discuss:
Let’s get started with this post.
When Is A Complete Roof Replacement Required?
There are many situations when a complete roof replacement is required. Here are a few.
Your Roof Is Old
No matter how well you maintain it, all roofs have a fixed life expectancy. How long it can last depends on the materials it’s made out of.According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), here’s the life expectancy of common roofing materials:
Life Expectancy (in years)
60 - 150
Clay or concrete
Your Roof Has Exterior Damage
Even if your wood shingles are only ten years old, they’re worth inspecting if you notice they’re cracked, curling, or warped. Excessive sun damage, falling objects, or a hail storm can take a toll on your roof and its life expectancy.
I recommend conducting a roofing inspection every couple of years. You should also inspect it yourself shortly after a significant storm. If you notice cracks on a few shingles, it’s better to repair them early rather than wait until your roof’s damage is no longer insurable.
You Experience Extreme Weather Conditions
Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and other extreme weather conditions can wreak havoc on your roof. A single storm can lead to roof leaks or shattered shingles dispersed throughout your yard. Luckily, most homeowners insurance policies will cover roof damage in these situations because they’re out of your control.
Your Roofing Materials Are Falling Prematurely
Hot and cold air should be able to flow freely throughout your home. Poor attic ventilation can trap this air and shorten your roof’s lifespan. If your attic suffers from improper ventilation, you may need a total or partial replacement long before your roof’s expected shelf-life.
If your ventilation is fine, your roofing contractors may have done a poor installation job. Improper roof installation can drastically reduce your roof’s life expectancy. I recommend getting a warranty in case you need some roof repair work done or a new roof altogether.
You Can See Through Your Roof Boards
Skylights are great - when they’re meant to be skylights. If you can see the sun through your roof boards, it’s time to call a roofing contractor. Odds are, your roof has a leak or excess moisture that weakens its integrity. Homeowners insurance can cover roof leaks in certain situations, especially if you’re proactive about getting them fixed.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?
If a covered peril causes roof damage, your insurance company may help pay for it. Once you file a homeowners insurance claim, your coverage kicks in after paying your deductible. Here are some of the most common instances where your homeowners policy covers a damaged roof:
In general, if your roof damage is caused by something sudden and accidental, homeowners insurance will cover it unless it’s specifically excluded in your policy.
When Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover Roof Damage
There are several instances when your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover roof repairs, including:
There are also a few gray areas where coverage is considered, including the following.
Mold And Fungus
Your homeowners policy is sometimes vague about mold damage coverage. If your roof collects mold and fungus due to another covered peril, your insurance policy will likely cover it. For example, if a hurricane causes excess water damage and mold grows, you’re likely covered. However, mold and fungus are often considered preventable and usually aren't covered.
Your Roof’s Age
In some cases, the age of your roof can impact the coverage you receive. If your roof is 20 years or older, your insurance company may require a reputable roofing company to inspect it before offering coverage. If this is the case, ask your insurance provider for a list of trusted contractors. Even after passing an inspection, your insurance company may only cover you for your roof’s actual cash value, not for replacement costs.
If a rough storm nicks or rips shingles from your roof, your insurance company may consider your roof damage cosmetic. Cosmetic damage isn't covered in most cases. I recommend contacting your insurance provider to know for sure.
How Much Coverage Do You Get?
As mentioned earlier, dwelling coverage covers roof replacement and repairs. Depending on your situation, your dwelling coverage can pay for the total cost of repairs.
How Much Are Repairs?
According to Angi, the average national cost of new roof installations is $14,360. The total costs range between $8,700 and $22,000, depending on the size of your roof and where you live.
The price breakdown is usually 60% labor and 40% cost of materials, so if you decide to do it yourself, you could save yourself 60% of the total cost. However, I recommend leaving it up to the pros. If you don’t install it correctly, you can drastically shorten your roof’s lifespan and end up having to call a roofing contractor anyway.
Cost Of Materials
A major cost factor is the type of roofing material you use. Here’s a cost breakdown, courtesy of Forbes:
Price (for a 1,500 square-foot home)
Stone or slate
$17,000 or more
How To Make An Insurance Claim For Roof Damage
First things first: if you’re about to buy a property, get a roofing contractor to inspect your roof first. If the former homeowner was negligent on repairs, you shouldn’t be the one having to pay the tab for them. I recommend asking your real estate agent if the sellers will add roof repair to their closing costs.
The process of filing a roof replacement insurance claim should be clearly written in your homeowners insurance policy. While this varies from company to company, here are the general steps required when filing a homeowners insurance claim:
How To Prevent Roof Damage
Sudden and accidental damage can be inevitable (but luckily almost always covered by your policy). However, when it comes to maintaining your roof, you have some responsibilities as a homeowner. The best way to ensure your claim is accepted is to take preventative measures.
Here are a few things you should do to maintain your roof:
Roof replacement is costly, so do what you can to ensure you’re covered. By following these simple tips and regularly maintaining your roof, you could save $10,000s if you ever have to file a roof claim.