pile of broken red clay shinglesYour Home Insurance Policy and Roof Damage

Your homeowners insurance policy will usually cover roof damage. It depends on two things:

  1. What caused the damage to the roof?
  2. How is the roof covered in your policy?

Cause of Damage

Assessing the condition of a roof is never easy. Even seasoned roofing repair experts can have a tough time judging the full extent of the damage. Your homeowners policy would cover most causes of damage to your roof, but some types of damage are not covered:

  Covered Not Covered
Fallen Tree X  
Hail X  
Wind X  
Lightning X  
Fire X  
Aircraft X  
Falling Objects X  
Volcanic Eruption X  
Weight of Ice/Snow X  
Water Leak X X
Wear and Tear   X
Old Roof Materials   X
Flood   X
Earthquake   X

The general rule of thumb is if the damage happens slowly over time, it is not covered. If it happens all at once, far more likely to be covered. Not all home insurance policies include coverage for water leaks. Coverage can also change from yes to no, depending on how the water leak started. Was it caused by a sudden storm that damaged the roof and created the hole? (likely covered) Was it caused by a 25-year-old roof that was overdue for some maintenance and began leaking one day? (not covered)

You're Covered, But For How Much?

If you have an older roof, your home insurance coverage may only cover the roof replacement at Actual Cash Value (ACV). If you have a roof claim with actual cash value coverage, you aren't getting full reimbursement for a new roof. An example:

Your roof is 19 years old and you have a hail storm that damages the roof badly - it's in need of a full repair. Your homeowners policy says you are covered for hail damage and the insurance adjuster says the roof has 6 years left before it needed to be replaced anyway. 

Your roof is covered at Actual Cash Value
The roof is 19 years old
The roof has a 25 year useful life,
It costs $15,000 for a brand new roof
Your policy has a $1,000 deductible

The insurance company tells you the claim is covered and you get a check for
(25-19)/25*$15,000 - $1,000 = $2,600. Yup, they are effectively only covering 6/25 = 24% of the value of the roof, and even after that, you still have to first pay your $1,000 deductible. 

VS

Your roof is covered at Replacement Cost
The roof is 19 years old
The roof has a 25 year useful life,
It costs $15,000 for a brand new roof
Your policy has a $1,000 deductible

The insurance company tells you the claim is covered and you get a check for $15,000 - $1,000 = $14,000.

Now you understand the importance of getting Replacement Cost coverage on your roof. In the above example, that was worth $11,400.

Check your deductibles before filing a claim. Many home insurance policies have individual deductibles for wind/hail or hurricane. Double-check that deductible before calling your insurance company, so that you don't file a claim that won't be paid out (or paid out a tiny amount). Remember, even if the insurance company rejects your claim, it goes on your insurance record for five years and will likely affect your cost of home insurance in future years. 

At your service,
Young Alfred