Dealing with the aftermath of the storm can be stressful. Once you’ve confirmed your property’s safety for you and your family, you might consider initiating a home insurance claim. As a homeowner, understanding the ins and outs of an insurance claim for roof damage is crucial.
Negotiating the process of filing a claim with your insurance company might seem overwhelming. But don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be a hassle, especially if you know what is covered and what is not.
Here are some tips to understand roofing insurance:
Maintain your roof regularly
One surefire way to get your roof insurance claim denied is to ignore maintenance before the damage hits. Most policies require you to do maintenance on your roof as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. This keeps your roof warranty valid too.
Keep records of roof maintenance, warranties, receipts, and quotes. Store these documents safely. A fire and water-resistant home safe is a smart investment to protect your insurance and maintenance records.
If you encounter any minor issues, fix them to prevent major damage. Pros recommend two roof inspections a year. Regular checks and maintenance can extend your roof’s life and keep your warranty intact.
Read the fine print in your insurance policy
Every insurance policy has fine print, and while it might be a bit tedious to go through, it often decides whether your claim gets approved or not.
The insurance policy fine print lays out what’s covered and what’s not. If you’re paying a lower premium, your coverage might not be as comprehensive as you’d hope.
Pay attention to your deductible, which is the amount you have to pay before the insurance steps in. Also, note that some states allow different deductibles for hurricane damage and other types of damage. The fine print will also tell you how to file a claim and what documents you need.
Know what’s covered in your insurance policy
Most insurance companies offer a basic homeowner’s policy that covers some essential items. It usually includes coverage for damage to your home and belongings up to a certain limit. You might also have liability coverage if someone gets hurt on your property and sues you.
Insurance usually steps in for minor damages caused by events out of your control. They’ll cover fixes from events like storms or natural disasters that blow away a few shingles. But they won’t help if it’s damage you caused. For instance, roofs handle some foot traffic, but having too many people up there or wearing the wrong shoes can mess it up, and your policy will not cover the damage.
Also, ensure your policy covers your roof type. It sounds obvious, but some policies cover only specific materials. If your roof is made of a non-approved material, your insurance won’t cover it. And if you’ve used the non-approved materials or methods for earlier repairs, you might pay more or be required to do added maintenance requirements. You can’t fix this after your roof’s damaged, so confirm coverage before you sign.
To know what’s covered under roof insurance, it’s important to grasp the range of repairs, restorations, or replacements included in your policy. Coverage can vary based on the nature of events that lead to damage, with an emphasis on acts of nature or sudden accidents.
Here are some factors to consider regarding what is covered by a roof insurance policy:
Acts of nature and sudden accidents
Insurance coverage for roof damage frequently extends to acts of nature and unexpected accidents. These encompass occurrences beyond your control, such as:
Most insurance plans will cover roof damage caused by these events, as they fall outside your responsibility and aren’t due to neglect.
On the flip side, weather conditions like rain, wind, or hail might or might not be covered. Weather-related claims are typically treated differently among insurers. Sometimes, updating your roof’s age can lead to a more favorable rate adjustment than the potential increase. Insurance companies often allow around six months to file a claim post-storm, and the damage must be linked to a recent storm within this timeframe. Always review your policy details, as whether weather events are covered hinges on policy specifics and your roof’s age. Your policy might outline whether the damage receives full or partial coverage.
Roof wear and tear and gradual deterioration
As assets age, they inevitably experience wear and tear, leading to gradual depreciation. This natural deterioration process can impact the insurance claim you submit to your provider.
When homeowners file claims for new roofs, insurance companies generally cover the damages if they’re due to covered perils. However, older roofs might receive different comprehensive coverage. Although advancements in installation methods and roofing materials offer longer lifespans, all roofs will eventually require replacement once their reasonable life expectancy is exceeded. Roofs older than 20 years may have restricted coverage.
For older roofs, hidden issues might arise, like moisture buildup leading to property water damage. Many insurers might demand roofing inspections for properties with older roofs before issuing new policies or renewing existing ones. If your aging roof doesn’t pass inspection, you’ll likely need to shoulder the responsibility of repairing or replacing it.
Statute of limitations for claims
Insurance companies usually set a statute of limitations for reporting roof damage post-storm or disaster. To be safe, it’s advisable to reach out to your insurer promptly after a significant weather event.
Understand recoverable depreciation
Recoverable depreciation relates to your ability to claim the depreciation and actual cash value of your property. If, for instance, your roof’s value depreciates by $2,000, you may be eligible to claim this amount.
Opportunity for discounted materials
Although it’s unusual for insurers to cover upgrades beyond pre-damage roofing quality, some may provide discounts on certain materials. Impact-resistant or metal roofing, for instance, might qualify for such discounts. Inquire with your insurer about potential discounts on roofing materials – upgrading could be worth considering.
Your policy should cover the damage on your roof as long as what caused it is covered in your policy. Certainly, there are situations where your claim might be denied.
Know what is not covered and why a roof claim could be denied
Your claim could be rejected if your roof damage isn’t due to a natural event or sudden accident. For example, if the damage happens because of poor maintenance, your policy might not cover the repairs.
Many policies won’t cover full roof replacements, only repairs. Some may limit repair claims to a set amount or percentage of the roof area.
There are some things that aren’t part of the basic coverage, but you can add them with special coverage. These include damages from:
- Falling trees or objects
- Heavy ice, snow, or sleet
- Plumbing, heating, or AC freezing or breaking
- Other perils except for floods or earthquakes
Your policy might not cover damage from floods or earthquakes, especially in areas prone to these events. High winds or hail damage might also be excluded. (You could add extra coverage or a higher deductible for full protection.)
Sadly, your insurance claim could be rejected if your roof damage is due to regular wear and tear or neglect. As your roof ages, the chance of this happening increases. Finding an insurance company that covers an aging roof is difficult, too.
Consider the area where you live. More hail or storms could mean higher premiums. If your premium is super low, check your policy; it might not cover certain roof damage.
Depending on the insurance company, typically, you have 1 to 2 years after a storm that caused the damage to the file.
One of the main reasons why homeowners’ insurance claims are declined for covering roof damage is that the roof wasn’t properly installed in the first place. Inspectors won’t cover something not secured right. In this case, you’ll pay out of pocket or talk to your roofing contractor to honor their warranty. But if they botched the installation, there’s a good chance they won’t stand behind their work. So, choosing a roofing contractor who will install your roof in the first place is very crucial.
Look for visible roof damage
You might be wondering, “When do I need to claim insurance for roof damage?” or “What should I look for after a storm?” Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Leaks: Check for water damage, especially in your attic, ceilings, and walls. If you see water stains, peeling paint, or bubbled wallpaper, your roof might need attention.
- Shingle Trouble: Examine your shingles for damage or missing pieces. Strong winds can blow them off, leaving gaps or shingles on the ground. Look for cracks, curls, or dents too.
- Gutter Issues: Storms can mess with your gutters. Rain and hail weaken them, and winds might even tear them from the roof.
- Hail Damage: Watch out for hail damage, especially if the hailstones are irregular or big. They can create small flaws that worsen over time.
After a serious storm like a tornado or hurricane, your roof might need a complete overhaul. A fallen tree could cause major structural damage. Even if you don’t see the damage right away, it’s wise to address potential issues early for future insurance claims.
To reduce potential roof damage, you can cover your roof with tarps and inspect for mold or water damage that could lead to bigger problems in the future.
Get a roof inspection to assess the damage
Now that you understand what’s covered and what’s not, and you have checked if there are visible damages – it’s time to know what to do if your roof’s taken a hit. The first step is simple: reach out to your homeowner’s insurance company.
If you see any obvious signs of roof damage, it’s a good idea to get a reputable contractor to take a look. Leaks, shingle damage, or hail marks could be present. Speak to your insurance adjuster or review your policy to understand how soon you should address repairs under your homeowner’s insurance roofing policy after a severe storm or natural disaster. Contractors often find temporary fixes to prevent further harm. Keep those receipts, as they could be reimbursed later by your insurer.
Even if you don’t spot any visible damage, still consider a post-weather inspection. Severe weather can hide sneaky damage. A seasoned roofing expert might uncover issues you’d miss. After a storm or disaster, it’s smart to schedule a roof check. However, wait to sign contracts or paperwork with a contractor before your insurance claim gets approved.
Once you’ve given them all the necessary details, your next steps depend on their instructions. They might send an insurance adjuster to check the damage or advise you to contact a roofing company for an inspection.
Let’s dive deeper into both scenarios:
1. Insurance adjuster’s inspection
In the first case, your insurer arranges for an adjuster to examine your roof’s damage. After this inspection, they’ll either give the go-ahead for your claim, let you know they didn’t spot any roof damage, or let you know your claim cannot be insured.
If your claim gets approved, it’s time to find a local roofing contractor experienced in handling insurance claims. Even if your claim is rejected initially, you can take extra steps. One effective way is to request a second insurance adjuster to reassess your roof. They might notice things the first adjuster missed and grant your claim.
However, the second adjuster could still decline the claim. In that case, an engineer’s inspection might help. They can provide evidence to your insurer that recent storms indeed damaged your roof. Keep in mind, though, the final decision rests with your insurance company.
2. Local roofing contractor’s inspection
In the second scenario, your insurer might ask you to connect with a local roofing contractor for an inspection. The contractor will snap pictures of any visible or suspected damage, which they’ll share with your insurer.
If the photos indicate roof damage, an adjuster will be sent to assess the situation. If they agree, your claim is likely to be approved. This approach is common in various areas, but specifics can vary. What matters is finding a roofing contractor experienced in dealing with insurance claims and roof damage.
After a roof inspector assesses your roof, you can start making temporary repairs while simultaneously filing an insurance claim. Take plenty of photos and have a discussion with the roof inspector to explore your options. Keep all your receipts safe because you can be reimbursed for these expenses.
It’s essential to gather solid evidence that demonstrates the roof damage resulting from the storms. If you’ve been maintaining your roof over time, keep all records and receipts as they can back your claim that the damage isn’t due to regular wear and tear.
Support your insurance claim with solid documentation. And it’s not just about post-damage pics—take ‘before’ shots too. More documentation means more support for your claim, and it speeds things up for your insurance adjuster. Snap photos and videos of your property before and after it got damaged.
Also, jot down notes when you talk with the claims adjuster or during the insurance and repair process. It helps you stay in the loop and understand the process better.
To show your roof’s journey, snap photos regularly. These moments might be:
- When you buy a new property
- During significant maintenance or repairs
- At regular intervals to track changes over time
- After major storms, especially windy ones
- With a time and date stamp for accurate tracking
- From multiple angles for a thorough record
Backup your photos and videos—a cloud or USB drive works. Documentation is crucial for insurance claims. Some contractors even use software to view pre- and post-damage roof images, speeding up repairs.
Estimate repair costs
Last but not least, you’ll want to gather estimated costs for the repairs. When you submit your claim –including these estimates, along with the bills and invoices – you can help your home insurance company figure out the right payout.
The more information you share, the better your chances of getting compensation to cover those necessary roof repairs or even a full replacement.
File that claim promptly
Try your best to file your roof damage claim ASAP. Slow starts can lead to more damage and higher costs. Swift action means less spreading damage and lower repair bills in the long run.
Remember, factors like chimneys or previous water damage can swing repair costs. Get those repair estimates lined up immediately, so the fixes can get underway without delay. If you’re unsure about the process, your insurance provider can guide you through or connect you with their claims department.
Impact on Premiums
A frequently asked question about insurance roof replacements is whether premiums will rise. In general, your home insurance rates likely won’t increase if you weren’t found negligent. Since storm or natural disaster damage isn’t a result of your neglect, your premium is unlikely to surge after a roof claim. However, if the damage is attributed to your negligence, like neglecting regular maintenance, your premium might go up post-claim.
The insurance claim process can be arduous, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating. But it pays to be informed of what kinds of roof damage are covered by insurance, how to address it, and reasons for claim denial to make the process a little more manageable. Before reaching out to your insurer, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the upcoming process.