5 Things to Consider for the Roof Insurance Claim Process

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  • 5 Things to Consider for the Roof Insurance Claim Process

The roof on your home is more than just its most important structure. It’s symbolic of the nature of your family, providing cover for them against storms, debris and extreme temperatures. But roofs don’t last forever, and, eventually, you may have to repair or replace yours. 

Homeowners insurance covers roof repair and replacement in certain instances when a covered peril was deemed to be the culprit of the damage. But many times your roof simply gets old and worn down, leading you to foot the bills to repair it yourself or risk the potential of being dropped from your insurer.

When Is Damage to My Roof Typically Covered and Not Covered?

Damage to your roof is only covered by your homeowners insurance policy when said damage was directly, and sometimes indirectly, caused by one of the 16 named perils — depending on which type of home insurance policy you have. The following perils are:

  1. Vandalism
  2. Theft
  3. Frozen pipes
  4. Damage caused by vehicles
  5. Damage caused by aircraft
  6. Rioting or civil disturbances
  7. Fire or lightning
  8. Windstorm or hail, such as a hurricane or tornado
  9. Damage from smoke
  10. Damage caused by heating, air conditioning or plumbing
  11. Damage due to snow, ice or sleet
  12. Damage from water heater, including cracks, burns or tears
  13. Damage from electrical current, such as downed powerlines
  14. Explosions
  15. Falling objects
  16. Volcanic eruptions

While we can probably rule out theft from coverage, it is possible for thieves to steal roofing materials off your home, such as expensive Spanish tile, which would likely be covered by your insurer. You’d also likely be covered if that theft came just before a big rainstorm and left your roof leaking water all over your personal belongings.

In the above instances, coverage for your roof would fall under the dwelling portion of your policy, while coverage for your belongings would fall under the personal property portion of your policy.

However, homeowners insurance will never cover your roof if the damage was caused by lack of upkeep, general negligence or simply being too old and worn down. Roofs are more exposed to extreme weather and temperatures than any other part of your house, so they’ll likely need to be repaired or replaced before many other parts of your home.

The good thing is that tackling the issue by repairing or replacing your roof before any damage has a chance to occur can save you thousands of dollars in premiums on your homeowners insurance. However, if your roof does sustain damage, you’ll want to remember and heed the following five tips.

1. Know How to Start the Roof Insurance Claim Process

Starting a roof insurance claim with your insurer may seem daunting, especially if your mind is running hectic because your home was damaged. But it’s much easier than you may think. The process begins the same as filing any other home insurance claim.

First, you’ll want to document the damage via photos and videos, including the damage to your roof, the inside of your home and any personal belongings or appliances that may have been damaged. This would also be a good time to throw a tarp on any damaged area so you keep the destruction to a minimum.

Next, you’ll contact your insurer to file the claim. After you’ve filed the claim, an adjuster will come survey the damage to your roof. If the damage was caused by an extreme-weather event in your area, it’s important to file your claim as quickly as possible and be cognizant that your insurer is likely dealing with many similar claims.

While everyone deals with a similar first step to the roof insurance claim process, the following four steps will be largely unique to your policy and the type of damage that occurred.

2. Understand Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Roof Coverage

Your homeowners insurance policy will either protect your home via actual cash value or replacement cost coverage. While actual cash value largely factors in depreciation (so a roof that cost $40,000 to install may only be worth $20,000 after 15 years), replacement cost coverage will likely still reimburse the full value of your roof (that $40,000 roof is still worth $40,000 after 15 years).

It’s important to note that your premiums will likely be higher if you opt for replacement cost coverage rather than actual cash value coverage. That’s because the premiums are largely calculated into the cost of any potential insurance claims.

3. And Roof Repair Claims vs. Roof Replacement Claims

There’s a big difference — especially in your claim payout — between filing a roof replacement claim and filing a roof repair claim. The former involves an entirely new roof to put onto your home, potentially setting your insurer back tens of thousands of dollars. The latter can be more of a quick-fix approach that only requires some new tiles or shingles to be added, and maybe a hole to be patched first.

That being said, there could be more paperwork and pushback from your insurer when filing a claim to replace a roof that’s 20 years old rather than repair a roof that was just put on a few years ago. Familiarizing yourself with the insurance claims process is only going to make everything easier on you and your insurer.

4. Prepare Properly for Wind Damage Roof Insurance Claims

While wind damage claims are typically covered by insurance, you could be dealing with a different deductible when you’re filing a roof damage claim that involves wind damage. Depending on which state you live in, you could be paying a wind deductible instead.

Wind deductibles are based on a percentage of your dwelling coverage instead of a dollar amount, and they’re typically much more than regular home insurance deductibles. Wind deductibles are common in hurricane-prone states like Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, although your insurer could require them in states where wind damage is less common.

Wind deductibles are commonly 1%, 3%, 5% or even up to 10% of your home’s dwelling coverage, which should be based on the value of your home. So a homeowner who chooses a 3% wind deductible on a $300,000 home would be responsible for paying $9,000 toward a wind damage claim before their insurer would step in to pay for any damage. Floridians are required by law to have these deductibles in place, too.

5. Be Prepared for What Happens if Your Roof Insurance Claim Is Denied

It’s always important to remember that damage caused by one of the 16 covered perils isn’t always covered by your insurer. If an adjuster determines that your roof was too old, not maintained properly or its clips came loose a long time ago, lessening the structural integrity of your roof, they could deny your claim.

If your roof sustains any kind of damage that isn’t covered by your insurer, you can always contact them again and appeal your case. If your claim is denied, and you’ve exhausted all your options, unfortunately, you may be stuck paying to repair or replace yourself.

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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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