Your roof is an integral part of the protection your home provides to you. Because the roof is exposed to the elements, it is also one of the most commonly damaged areas of a home during storms. You may find yourself wondering if homeowners insurance covers your roof.
In general, home insurance companies offer two types of coverage for roofs: actual cash value and replacement cost. Knowing the difference between these coverage types could help you to feel more comfortable with the limitations of your homeowners insurance policy when it comes to your roof.
There are situations where your roof may not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If your roof is in especially poor condition, for example, your insurance company may have added a roof exclusion to your policy. Checking with your agent or insurance company may help clarify how and if your roof is covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
Actual cash value
Actual cash value coverage means that your insurance company agrees to pay you for the value of your roof in its current state. Essentially, depreciation is factored into your claim settlement. Depreciation is calculated by a claims adjuster, who will inspect the roof to determine its replacement cost, review its current condition and estimate its remaining lifespan.
For example, a comparable brand new roof might cost $20,000 and have a lifespan of 20 years. This would mean that it loses 5% of its value each year. If your roof is 10 years old, it has lost 50% of its value, meaning the actual cash value of your roof is now $10,000. Additional depreciation may be taken out based on the condition of your roof. Some 10-year-old roofs may still be in great condition, while others could be impacted by unrepaired wind or hail damage.
There is a connection between the age of your roof and your insurance coverage. ACV coverage is typically used for older roofs or roofs that are in poor condition. It is typically a less expensive way to cover your roof. Some insurance policies may give you the option to choose between ACV or replacement cost, but if your roof is past a certain age (generally 15-20 years, but each insurance company will have its own guidelines), your insurance company may automatically stipulate that you have ACV coverage.
Replacement cost coverage
Replacement cost coverage is a bit simpler to understand than actual cash value. If you have a homeowners policy that covers your roof on a replacement cost basis, the insurance company is agreeing to pay you what it would cost to replace your roof with a comparable new roof. Your claims adjuster will research new roofing materials that are comparable to what you have on your home now and offer you a settlement based on what it would cost to replace your roof with a similar new roof.
Replacement cost coverage generally costs more than actual cash value coverage, but it will mean that your deductible could be your only out-of-pocket expense if your roof is damaged. If your roof is newer or in good condition, you may be able to insure it with replacement cost. Some companies will automatically assign replacement cost coverage to your roof based on its age, or you may be able to choose between actual cash value and replacement cost.
Guaranteed or extended replacement cost coverage
The most expensive roof coverage option is guaranteed or extended replacement cost coverage. This endorsement is usually offered for newer homes and typically applies to your entire Coverage A/Dwelling amount, not just to your roof.
Extended replacement cost coverage is usually represented as a percentage, such as 125% or 150%. This means that you have coverage in excess of your Coverage A limit. If your home is insured for $100,000, which includes your roof, and you have 125% extended replacement cost coverage, you actually have $125,000 in coverage, should the $100,000 not be enough for your damages.
Guaranteed replacement cost coverage is similar, except that there is no percentage limit. If you have this coverage on your policy, your insurance company agrees to pay the full replacement cost coverage for the damages to your dwelling, even if it exceeds your coverage limits. If your policy has a $100,000 limit and you have to rebuild your entire house after a tornado, for example, your insurance company will pay the full rebuilding cost, even if it is well over the $100,000 limit.
These coverage options may not be available from all companies or for all customers. The age of your home, its condition and your coverage limit will all affect your eligibility for these coverages. For example, many insurance companies do not offer guaranteed replacement cost on homes with a dwelling limit in excess of $1 million because it could be financially devastating for the insurance company to pay out a guaranteed replacement amount on such an expensive home.
Actual cash value vs replacement cost coverage for your roof
There are a number of things to consider when deciding how to insure your roof. First, what options is your insurance company giving you? Based on the age of your home and your roof’s condition, your insurance company may automatically assign a certain coverage type to you roof, taking the decision out of your hands. For example, an insurance company is not likely to agree to cover a 40-year-old roof on a replacement cost basis, since the roof is likely to be in poor condition.
If you do have a choice between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage, you will need to consider several aspects of your financial situation. You may want to choose ACV coverage if you do not have the funds to pay for replacement cost, which is likely to be a more expensive choice. However, if you do choose ACV coverage, be aware that you will likely pay more out of pocket after a claim, since your insurance company will not pay for the depreciation on your roof. You may want to consider if you have the finances to comfortably pay for a larger portion of a roof claim.
If you have the choice and the budget, replacement cost coverage could be a good choice, since it provides you with a greater level of protection against the costs of replacing or repairing your roof after wind damage.
Frequently asked questions
Is roof insurance included in your homeowners insurance policy?
Most insurance policies include coverage for your roof, but specific perils may be excluded. If you live in an area prone to windstorms, for example, you may have a wind exclusion on your policy, meaning that wind damage will not be covered. Insurance policies also do not provide protection for general maintenance of roofs, such as wear and tear. If your roof is in poor condition or past a certain age, your insurance policy may not cover it at all. Talking to your agent or a licensed insurance professional is a good way to determine how, and if, your roof is covered.
Can you switch from actual cash value to full replacement cost?
You may have the option to choose replacement cost coverage or actual cash value coverage, but it depends on the insurance company, as well as your roof’s age and condition. If your roof is past 15-20 years old or in poor condition, your insurance company may automatically cover it on an actual cash value basis and you may not have the option to choose replacement cost. Similarly, some homeowners insurance policies automatically cover newer roofs for replacement cost.
Will insurance companies cover an old roof?
It depends on the insurance provider. Many companies have restrictions on how roofs older than 15-20 years are covered and will only offer actual cash value coverage. If your roof is in poor condition, your insurance company may exclude coverage for your roof or could decline to write your policy entirely. If you have an older roof, getting quotes from a variety of insurance companies and talking to a licensed agent could help you to find coverage.