How to Get Homeowners Insurance With a Bad Roof

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  • How to Get Homeowners Insurance With a Bad Roof

Any time you’re getting a quote for homeowners insurance, one question the company will always ask is the age of your roof. The condition of your roof is so important to insurers because it’s your home’s first line of defense against things like rain, wind, and hail. A home with an old or poorly maintained roof is more likely to suffer severe damage in the event of a natural disaster.

Because of this, you’ll probably have a hard time insuring a home with a bad roof, but it’s not impossible. In this article, we’ll explore options for those who are afraid they can’t get homeowners insurance because of their roof. 

Will Insurance Cover a 15- to 20-Year-Old Roof?

To home insurance companies, a roof becomes “old” or “bad” after about 15 to 20 years. Some roofing materials, such as metal or clay tile, have a longer lifespan, but most standard shingle roofs cap out at 20 years old. Even so, some insurance companies will cover a 15 to 20-year-old shingle roof if you’re willing to pay more for your premium

If your roof is in the 20+ age range, you’ll probably have to get high-risk homeowners insurance. Your home is considered a risk because your roof would be pretty easy to damage after so many years. High-risk insurance costs up to 50% more than standard homeowners insurance, and it usually includes less coverage for the higher price. 

As an example of how high-risk insurance gives you less coverage, most insurance companies will only insure an old roof for its actual cash value. Actual cash value is how much it would cost to replace your roof minus its depreciation in value over the past 20+ years. 

Here’s how to figure out the actual cash value of your roof:

  • Step 1: Start with the expected lifespan of your roofing material.
  • Step 2: Find out how much it would cost to replace your roof with the same material in the current market. 
  • Step 3: Multiply the current cost of a roof replacement by the percentage of your roof’s lifespan that has already passed to figure out how much it has depreciated in value.
  • Step 4: Subtract the amount your roof has depreciated in value from the current roof replacement cost, and that’s your roof’s actual cash value. 

For example, say your home has a shingle roof with an expected lifespan of 20 years, and it was built 15 years ago. Replacing a shingle roof in 2022 would cost around $8,000. So, you multiply $8,000 by 75% (0.75), the percentage of your roof’s lifespan that has already passed. That tells you that your roof has depreciated $6,000 in value. Now, subtract $6,000 from $8,000 to get your roof’s actual cash value: $2,000. 

What that means is that, if your roof is completely destroyed, your insurance will pay no more than $2,000 for a roof replacement. That leaves you paying the other $6,000 out-of-pocket. And that’s after you paid up to 50% more on your insurance premium than you would for standard homeowners insurance. 

So, even though you can get homeowners insurance with an old roof, it might make more financial sense, in the long run, to go ahead and replace your roof so you can get better insurance at a lower rate

What to Do If Your Homeowners Insurance Is Cancelled Because of Your Roof

Even if your home is already insured, your insurance company can drop you because of issues with your roof, whether it crosses that 15-year threshold and gets too old or falls into disrepair because you haven’t maintained it properly. 

If your homeowners insurance is cancelled because of your roof, you have two options:

  • Find a high-risk insurance company. As we already discussed, there are insurance companies out there who insure high-risk homes, like those with an old or damaged roof, for a higher cost. You can look for one of these companies if your current insurer drops you. 
  • Replace your roof. Before your insurance is officially cancelled, your insurer will likely give you a grace period, usually 60 days, in which you can replace your roof to avoid losing your coverage. While this would cost several thousand dollars and might not be an option for some homeowners without serious financial planning, it could save you money in the long run as opposed to the expense of high-risk insurance. 

Your insurance company is less likely to drop you because of your roof if you keep up with proper roof maintenance. Get a professional roof inspection once a year, and repair any minor damage or issues that come up ASAP to prevent major problems that might cause your insurer to cancel your homeowners insurance. 

If you can show a consistent record of proper maintenance and passing roof inspections, your insurer might even be willing to maintain your policy once your roof reaches 15 to 20 years old. 

What Are Homeowners Insurance Roof Exclusions?

In insurance, an exclusion is something your policy doesn’t cover. Some homeowners insurance policies will include certain roof exclusions. You’ll have to read through your policy documents or talk to your insurance agent to find out if any of these exclusions apply to your insurance.

Roof exclusions in homeowners insurance policies are often based on factors such as:

  • Age of roof: Many policies include a stipulation that they won’t cover damage to a roof that has reached a certain age, usually 15 or 20 years for a shingle roof. 
  • Roofing material: Some insurers exclude certain roofing materials that pose a higher risk, such as wood roofs. Wood roofs are often excluded because they’re susceptible to fire damage.
  • Roof shape: Some insurance companies exclude flat roofs because flat roofs are much more susceptible to damage from wind and rain than traditional gable or hip roofs. 
  • Condition of roof: Your insurance company might consider more than just the roof’s age. If your roof has suffered damage in the past that you haven’t repaired, or if you’ve neglected roof maintenance, your roof may not be covered in your policy. 

Are There Roof Requirements for Homeowners Insurance?

Every insurance company is different, but in general, you can expect most standard insurers to have certain requirements regarding your roof. The most common roof requirement is that shingle roofs be less than 15 years old. That’s why it’s harder to find insurance once your roof gets older than that. 

Some home insurance companies require a roof inspection before they’ll agree to cover your home, especially for older homes. If your roof fails an inspection, you’ll likely have to get it repaired or replaced before anyone will insure your home.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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