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- The average life expectancy of the most common type of roof (asphalt shingle) is 15 to 18 years. (Klaus Larsen LLC)
- Many homeowners underestimate roof age. Inaccurate roof age costs home insurers $1.14 billion in lost premiums each year. (Verisk)
- Older roofs typically cause more home insurance claims — and sustain more severe roof damage.
Insurance-funded roof replacement is typically limited or excluded from your home insurance policy when roofs are 20 years or older. If you have an older roof, your insurance company may also require a roof inspection before insuring your home and may only allow for actual cash value in case of damage.
Homeowners insurance can provide financial peace of mind, guaranteeing that if your home suffers damage caused by covered perils, your insurance company will help you pay for the repairs. Exposed to the elements and easily damaged by severe weather, roofs are among the most commonly damaged parts of a home. But does home insurance cover the cost to repair or replace your roof? In some cases, yes. But not always. The key to learning whether your home insurance will cover the cost to replace your roof is to understand your home insurance policy.
How does roof insurance work?
Repairing or replacing a roof can be costly. While they are built to withstand the elements, including sun, wind, freezing temperatures, hail, rain and more, a roof — no matter how well it is built — weakens over time, making it more vulnerable to damage.
Insurance carriers will typically pay for roof damage if it occurs due to a covered peril. To reduce the risk of taking on a significant damage claim, however, insurance companies may be hesitant to fully cover an older roof and may even require an inspection to confirm it is sound.
An insurance company could deny coverage if the roof is older or not well-maintained. Instead, the carrier may decide to provide actual cash value insurance, which only pays for a portion of a claim based on the roof’s age and condition. The Texas Department of Insurance explains how actual cash value for a roof that will cost $10,000 to replace could work (keep in mind these are sample figures):
|Actual cash value of roof
|Policy would pay
Types of roof damage
There are two main types of roof damage when it comes to home insurance: damage from a covered loss or wear and tear. For example, if your roof has a leak or damage due to covered perils such as rain, hail, snowstorm, a falling tree branch, wind or fire, the insurance company will usually step in to pay for the repair or replacement up to your coverage limits (assuming your policy has no exclusions regarding your roof).
If there is a leak that is not associated with a covered peril due to something such as the failure of the structure, lack of maintenance or the roof’s older age, an insurance company will likely not cover the cost to repair the damage or replace the roof. Ongoing roof maintenance and upkeep is crucial to not only maintaining your roof, but also to taking advantage of the financial protection offered by your homeowners insurance.
If you are unsure what your home insurance policy covers and does not cover, talk with your insurance agent so you aren’t caught unprepared.
Keeping your roof safe
Roofs are expected to hold up to weather conditions, but a well-maintained roof is typically more resilient against the elements than an aging roof that has suffered from wear and tear over the years. While you may not want to replace your whole roof regularly, ongoing maintenance could protect your roof and make sure it holds up better over time:
- Schedule a periodic inspection: If you’re unsure if your roof is holding up, or if you notice a leak or other indication that your roof may be suffering from damage, hire a roof inspector to take a look and determine if there are any structural issues. You can schedule an inspection every couple years and address minor problems before they become significant ones.
- Prune nearby trees: One of the most common causes of damage to roofs are trees. Falling branches and other debris can impact the roof and cause damage during a storm or heavy winds. Cutting back and pruning nearby tree branches could help minimize this type of damage.
- Keep gutters clean: Gutters are meant to carry water — what could be a roof’s biggest enemy — away from the rooftop. If your gutter is filled with leaves or debris, water could overflow onto the rooftop, weakening the structure or causing interior leaks.
I need a new roof, now what?
A new roof is a significant investment. The average cost of replacing a roof is as much as $9,194. Start by searching for a quality, reputable roofing company. Referrals from friends or family can be helpful, but it is always a good idea to confirm that the company is licensed, bonded and insured.
Besides choosing the right company, the type of material you choose can make a big difference in how long the roof will last. As mentioned, asphalt shingle roofs have an average life span of 20 years. Architectural Digest says there are 10 types of common roofing shingles available.
|Life expectancy (according to the NHBA)
|Up to $19,500
|Over 50 years
|Up to $50,000
|Over 50 years
|Up to $24,000
|Over 50 years
|Up to $50,000
|Over 50 years
|Up to $15,785
|Fiber cement shingles
|Up to $16,500
|Up to $15,645
Additionally, solar shingles are on the market now; while pricey, these are basically tiny solar panels that you can integrate throughout your roof alongside another shingle type to help you save on your energy bills.
Roof repair vs. roof replacement
When deciding on whether to repair or replace your roof, you might want to consider the following options:
|If the damage is minor and localized
|If the damage is widespread
|If the roof is 10 years old or less
|If the roof is older or you plan on selling your home in the near future
|If non-matching new shingles do not affect the home’s curb appeal
|If the cost of repair is close to the cost of a full replacement
Frequently asked questions
The best home insurance company will vary depending on your needs and budget. For example, if you live in an area at higher risk of certain damage such as wildfires, a plan that offers more extensive fire damage protection may be more appealing. If you have a high-value home, your needs may also be different than someone whose primary and sole concern is cost. The best way to find the best company for you is to make a list of your needs and priorities, then shop around and get quotes from a few home insurance providers that meet your criteria.
A standard homeowners insurance policy should cover a roof caving in if the damage is caused by covered perils such as fire, snow, ice or sleet. Coverage can include damage done to the roof as well as damage to personal belongings inside your home that may be damaged as a result of the roof caving in. If you want to know the specifics of what your policy covers, talk to your insurance agent.