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Learn how you can get a free roof through insurance without raising your premium
Roofs play a key role in protecting your home from the elements and many insurance companies are becoming more restrictive when it comes to roof coverage.
The reason is that insurance companies view roofs as one of the most important parts of a home. If you have a damaged roof, you’re likely going to have problems within the structure that will lead to more claims.
Some insurers have refused to renew existing homeowner insurance policies on houses with roofs older than 20 years without passing an inspection. Those who fail inspection will not be renewed without a roof replacement.
Some insurers don’t write new policies for homes with roofs over 20 years old and they will only pay actual cash value for roof replacement for older roofs when they’re damaged. What that means is they don’t pay to fully replace the roof, but only reimburse for what an old roof is worth after 20-plus years.
"If you have a roof that has lasted 20 years, then you've probably exceeded the roofing membrane life expectancy,” says Gerald Delaune, senior building envelope consultant at Childress Engineering Services Inc. in Richardson, Texas. “Chances are that at that point, there are issues within the roofing system that cannot be seen (such as moisture within the system), which could potentially deteriorate the deck and that it would be worth your money to replace the roof.”
tips to protect your roof
As expensive as it may be to replace a roof, you may have no choice if doing nothing would cost you your home insurance policy, according to Chip Merlin, president of Tampa-based Merlin Law Group, P.A.
"Insurance companies are generally tightening underwriting requirements for older homes in general--and then specific homes where there has not been a replacement of roofs, plumbing or electrical. Roofs are the biggest issue," says Merlin. "Generally, in geographic areas where the demand of insurance exceeds the insurance company's appetite for risk, the greater the underwriting criteria come into play. Florida is such a state, but we are also seeing it along all coastal areas and in areas where hail damage is most prevalent."
Merlin notes that while some companies are tightening inspection requirements and requiring homeowners to cover the cost of these inspections for renewals, most insurers are simply refusing to write new policies for homes with roofs older than 20 years. (See "7 types of homes that are hard to insure.")
"The trend is to require an older roof – 15 to 20 years plus – to have an inspection to get a renewal. This is probably a good policy because it promotes better maintenance and reduces needless loss," says Merlin.
Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?Home insurance policies usually cover roof damage caused by fire, vandalism and “acts of God,” such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Whether they will pay for damage caused by wind, rain or hail is determined by your policy and the age of your roof.
For instance, if your roof is less than 10 years old, you will likely be covered for the replacement in full. Someone with an older roof (especially one that is more than 20 years old) may not get reimbursed or might only get what the insurer deems the roof is worth after years of wear and tear.
A leaky roof may be covered, but insurance companies believe homeowners should prevent leaks and subsequent damage. It’s up to the homeowner to take the necessary precautions to maintain the property so insurers might not cover damage if a leaky roof isn’t fixed promptly.
Whether you’re reimbursed partially, fully or not at all depends on your policy, so check with your insurance company if you experience any damage.
How to protect your roof..Here are five tips to protect your roof: