Putting a new roof on your home may be one of the most expensive projects you undertake as a homeowner. On average it can cost between $24,000 and $40,000 depending on your roof’s size, slope, material, and other factors.
Understandably, most homeowners want to avoid paying that out-of-pocket if possible. But does homeowners insurance pay for a roof replacement when you need one? Here’s what you need to know.
What Homeowners Insurance Covers
In most cases, a house’s roof takes more abuse than the rest of the house put together. It is the front line of defense against inclement weather, storms, and less common disasters like falling debris. As such, although homeowners insurance covers roofs, numerous exceptions, exemptions, and limitations apply.
The average homeowners policy covers roof repair and replacement when damage is caused by:
- Water or ice
- Lightning strikes
- Accidents such as falling trees
- Other qualifying acts of nature
- Damage from aircraft
- Electrical damage or power surges
- Riots or other civil unrest
Whenever possible, insurers will choose to pay for roofing repairs rather than a full replacement. It can take excessive damage over a large portion of your roof to qualify for a full replacement.
Exceptions and Limitations: Older Roofs
Even the best-constructed roofs have a natural lifespan. Depending on the material and where the home is located, the average lifespan ranges between 10 and 25 years. As roofs age, they become less able to withstand the elements.
As such, insurance companies often progressively repeal or limit coverage as a roof ages. When a roof approaches or reaches its maximum estimated lifespan, coverage may drop from replacement cost to actual cost.
For example, imagine that your roof has a maximum estimated lifespan of 20 years. When your roof is ten years old, your homeowners insurance will likely cover its replacement value. This is the total cost to put a new roof on your home should the existing roof be seriously damaged.
When your roof is 19 or 20 years old, the same policy may offer only actual cost coverage or the market value of the depreciated materials currently on your roof. That will be only a fraction of the cost of a new roof.
What Homeowner’s Insurance Doesn’t Cover When It Comes to Roofing
First, it is important to understand that none of your homeowners insurance coverage will kick in until after you have paid your deductible. Depending on your policy, special higher deductibles may apply if your roof damage results from specific causes such as:
Even after your deductible is paid, there are some forms of damage that homeowners insurance does not cover. These include damage:
- Resulting from lack of maintenance or upkeep, such as rust and corrosion on metal roofing
- Resulting from normal wear and tear or aging
- Resulting from improper installation or inferior materials
- To specialty roofing materials not covered by standard policies such as recycled shake shingles
- Caused by pets
- Caused by insects or animal infestation
- Caused by smog
- Caused by settling of a home’s foundation
- Caused by war or government action
- Resulting from mold or fungus that is not the direct result of a qualifying accident or storm
- Resulting from intentional actions or poorly performed repairs on your part
- Caused by natural disasters like earthquakes or floods
- Caused by rare events like mudslides or sinkholes
In some cases, you can secure coverage for some of these situations by purchasing extra roof insurance as part of your policy. In other cases, such as poor installation, your insurance company may assist you in pursuing compensation from the responsible party that can cover the damage.
It is also important to note that your insurance for roof replacement may deny you coverage if they believe you failed to respond to damage:
- In a timely manner
- In accordance with your policy requirements
For example, many policies will not pay for water damage to a roof if the roof is:
- Damaged a storm or accident
- Not immediately covered with a protective tarp
- Then subject to water damage from subsequent rain, snow, or hail
How to Get Your Roof Replacement Covered by Insurance
At first glance, the list of things your homeowners insurance isn’t likely to cover can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are several things homeowners can do to ensure that their roof insurance will cover the cost when it’s time for a replacement.
Choose Your Policy Wisely
If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, floods, or other often-exempt hazards, make sure that you purchase a policy that covers those situations. If necessary, purchase an umbrella policy or special riders to get the coverage you need.
Read your policy carefully and keep a copy on hand. Make sure that you know what it requires of you and entitles you to before an incident occurs.
Get Your Roof Inspected
No matter how old your roof is or what condition you think it is in, get your roof inspected by a professional. This will:
- Alert you to any existing damage or lack of maintenance that might affect your insurance coverage
- Allow you to make repairs, as needed, possibly paid for by your insurance company
- Document the current status of your roof
Being able to document the state of your roof and your efforts to maintain it can play a key role in securing funds from insurance for roof replacement should you need to make a claim.
Talk to a Roofer About Roof Protection
When your roof is inspected, ask about threats to your roof. This may include areas of poor repair, roofing materials not suited to your climate, trees too close to the roof, or other hazards. If they identify hazards, explore how you can eliminate or address the problems.
Being proactive will reduce the likelihood of roof damage and increase the chances that your homeowners insurance will pay for your roof repair or replacement when you need it.
Schedule an Inspection Today
Take the first step to protecting your roof and getting the most out of your roof replacement insurance today. Schedule a free inspection and get a thorough review of your roof’s condition and the information you need to protect your home, hassle-free.