Even the strongest roofs are susceptible to damage. Heavy rain, hail, windstorms and falling objects can leave roofs in complete disarray. When a roof gets damaged, it can lead to other issues, like flooding, water damage and mold.
Fixing or replacing a roof out-of-pocket can be expensive. Most home insurance policies will protect the roof and reimburse the homeowner for the cost of repairs, assuming the damage is caused by a covered peril.
The importance of roof insurance
Insurance companies place high importance on the roof of a home. Roofs are one of the most important features of a house, and the condition of the roof determines the property’s structural integrity.
Roofs are built to withstand hail, wind, freezing rain and similar weather events, but as a roof gets older, it weakens and becomes more susceptible to major damage. Fixing a damaged roof is often a big expense, even if an insurance company is paying for it.
To avoid a major claim, insurance companies want to ensure that the home’s roof is structurally sound. Some companies will deny coverage if a roof is deemed too high-risk, particularly if the home is in an area where wildfires or extreme weather are common.
How to make sure your roof is covered
Most standard home insurance policies include roof insurance, and homeowners should check their policy documents or ask an agent to see what is covered. Most roof damage that is sudden or accidental, like a tree falling, will be covered under dwelling insurance.
There are two types of dwelling coverage in home insurance policies: named perils and open perils. Under a named perils policy, the roof is covered against specific losses listed in the policy. With an open perils policy, the roof is covered against any loss not explicitly excluded from the policy.
It’s important to keep in mind that there may be limitations on what insurance will cover. Homeowners insurance does not cover wear and tear or gradual damage. If a home’s roof is older or had pre-existing damage, the home insurance policy may not cover new roof damage.
Homeowners who want additional roof coverage have the option to increase their dwelling coverage limit. Some insurance companies also sell a roof replacement endorsement that extends coverage. In either case, increasing insurance coverage will raise your premium.
Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?
Generally speaking, homeowners insurance does cover roof leaks. However, it depends on the source of the leak and the age of the roof. If the roof leak is caused by a covered peril, like a hurricane or tornado, the damage is likely covered by insurance.
Roof leaks are usually not covered by insurance if the roof is older or outdated. For instance, a 5-year-old roof may qualify for full coverage, but a 20-year-old roof might not. Some insurance companies will cover older roofs but offer a much lower payout after a covered claim.
The source of the leak is another thing insurance companies look at when reviewing a claim. If the roof had pre-existing issues due to homeowner neglect or lack of maintenance, an insurance company might decide to deny a claim because the leak was preventable.
Tips for protecting your roof
Every homeowner should know how to protect their roof, even if their insurance policy covers roof damage. Here are some roof protection tips:
- Hire a roof inspector: It’s a good idea to hire an inspector to assess the roof’s condition and recommend repairs, especially if it is an older roof. They can also help determine when it is appropriate to replace the entire roof.
- Take pictures of the roof: Take pictures of the home’s roof from the outside, or have an inspector take pictures while on the roof. Having recent pictures of the roof’s condition before the damage occurred helps adjusters assess a claim.
- Keep up with regular maintenance: Once per year, have a roofing company survey the roof and make necessary repairs. Even a few broken or loose shingles can cause major damage and jeopardize future claims.
- Avoid DIY solutions: Unqualified homeowners should avoid fixing roof damage themselves. It’s a much better idea to hire a licensed professional to make roof repairs to prevent additional damage.
- Prune overhanging trees: Large trees that hang over a roof can fall and cause major damage. Keep trees and branches pruned year-round to protect the roof in storms or high winds.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best insurance companies?
The best home insurance company is different for every homeowner. For example, Geico might be a good option for low rates, Amica might be a better option for great customer service and USAA is a strong choice for military families. To find the best home insurance to meet specific needs, shop around, compare quotes and speak with a licensed insurance professional.
How much does home insurance cost?
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average U.S. homeowner pays $1,211 per year for home insurance. Keep in mind that home insurance rates vary from person to person. Insurance companies factor in state, ZIP code, age, credit score and claims history to determine premiums.
How often do I need to replace my roof?
The timeframe in which a roof needs to be replaced depends largely on the materials used to construct it. Most roofing professionals recommend replacing asphalt shingle roofs every 15-30 years, wood shingle roofs every 20-25 years, metal roofs every 50-75 years and rubber roofs every 30-50 years. Any damage to a roof during its lifetime can accelerate the timetable for replacement. It’s a good idea to speak with a licensed roof inspector to determine when a roof needs to be replaced.