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Homeowner Insurance Coverage and Your Roof

By January 13, 2021January 16th, 2021No Comments
A Florida roof that's been damaged by a storm. Roof age can affect your insurance coverage

Before offering coverage, insurance companies review specifics of each individual case to try to determine their risk (this is what we call “underwriting”). From something as obvious as the condition of the home to lesser known elements like the type of electrical panel in your house, providers may increase your rates or deny coverage outright if there’s something that doesn’t fit their risk “appetite”.

When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, your roof is one of the major things insurance companies review.  If it’s too old or not in good shape, insurance companies may offer limited coverage, increased rates, or deny coverage outright.

Before you start looking for new insurance, here’s what you need to know about how your insurance covers the part of your home that literally covers you. 

Age Matters

Your roof’s age will greatly impact your insurance coverage. Old roofs are more likely to have problems and not keep out wind and rain—especially in hurricane-prone areas like Florida. Naturally, with more risk comes more cost and/or less coverage.

But how old is too old?

Currently (January 2021) in Florida, if your roof is more than a decade old, you may start noticing fewer options in the market. Yes, just ten years old. As with most things insurance, exceptions can be made under certain circumstances, but we’ve seen many instances of insurance companies declining coverage or only offering limited coverage for a roof that they deem too old.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what condition your roof is in. If it’s too old, even a well-maintained roof in perfect condition could prevent your insurance company from offering replacement cost coverage.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why. Like a lot of things, there is no single factor, but unfortunately, much of this extra scrutiny comes from bad players in the roofing industry charging too much for storm repairs paid for by insurance claims. Some were even doing unnecessary repairs to take advantage of insurance coverage. Insurance companies have seen their expenses in this regard rise dramatically—on top of a general increase in the number of hurricane and storm losses in recent years—and when insurance company expenses rise, the cost of insurance (and the number of new rules) rises too.

Different Rules for Different Roofing Materials

What your roof is made of will also have an impact on your insurance coverage. Some materials withstand the elements better than others. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common roofing materials:

  • Architectural Shingles – This is the most popular type of roofing material, used in over 75% of homes in the United States. While some shingles have warranties of up to 50 years, insurance companies want them to be ten years or newer to offer coverage. Although ten years might not seem like a long window, architectural shingles offer the most insurance credits of any roofing material.
  • Metal Roofs – Metal is the strongest type of roofing material, which is why insurance companies will accept older roofs. It’s not hard to find coverage even if your metal roof is around 20 years old.
  • Clay and Tile Roofs – Clay and tile are a bit stronger than asphalt shingles but not quite as strong as metal. Most insurance companies will cover clay and tile roofs if they’re up to 15-20 years old, depending on condition.

In general, the stronger the roofing material, the longer it’ll last. Insurance companies will be more likely to cover an older metal roof than an older asphalt roof. 

The Shape of Your Roof

The shape of your roof will also impact your insurance coverage. Who knew, right? Basically, if your roof is shaped in a way that limits the risk of wind damage, you’ll get better rates on your insurance.

Roofs generally fall into one of two shapes:

  • Gable – A triangular shape with two sloped sides (shaped like a teepee). This is the most common roof shape in the U.S.
  • Hip – These roofs have slopes on all four sides. On square houses, the roof will look like a pyramid.

Because wind is the main enemy of any roof, hip roofs will offer homeowners more discounts on their insurance. Since they have slopes on all sides, wind flows over better, limiting the risk of damage.

Having a gable roof won’t prevent you from getting insurance coverage, but you may see different rates than if you have a hip roof. Keep that in mind when you’re house-hunting next!

What to do About It Part 1: Get a Wind Mitigation Inspection for Extra Discounts

Many home claims are related to exterior wind damage. Which makes sense, as your roof takes the brunt of extreme wind.

If your roof is less than ten years old, and you’d like to save money on your premiums, you may want to look at getting a Wind Mitigation Report. A wind mitigation inspection isn’t like a regular home inspection, four-point inspection, or roofing inspection. It doesn’t measure the condition of your home. It’s designed specifically to only check your roof’s “wind-readiness.”  

In hurricane-prone areas like Florida, a wind mitigation inspection can be a way to achieve a little more peace of mind about the strength of your roof as well as to generate some premium savings on your insurance.  It’s essentially a roofing professional telling your insurance company that your roof is up to the task of withstanding the wind and rain Florida weather can throw its way. With the added assurance, your insurance company will often be able to offer you better rates.

If your roof is newer than ten years old (because even a wind mitigation inspection won’t save you if it’s older than ten), it’s definitely worth it to get a wind mitigation inspection. Inspections usually cost between $80 and $100. But with a good inspection, you’ll easily recoup the expense in insurance credits.

What to do About It Part 2: Don’t Let Your Roof Stand in the Way of Good Insurance Coverage

Your “old” roof might be the only thing standing between you and good home insurance coverage. Obviously, the best way to get the lowest prices and the most coverage from your insurance policy is to have a roof that’s newer than ten years old and to get a wind mitigation inspection. While this is a helpful tip while you’re house-hunting, it’s probably not really useful if you’re already living in your home and your roof is older than 10 years. So what to do, if you don’t want to replace your roof right away?

Well, knowledge is power. While nobody can guarantee full coverage, if you have an older roof—or any other challenging insurance situation—it’s always a good idea to work with an experienced insurance agent rather than trying to buy insurance on your own. Good insurance agents know the industry, have dealt with many situations just like yours, and will have access to many different insurance companies. They also know how to read insurance contracts, spot coverage holes, and identify potential issues before they cause headaches down the road. They’ll help you find the very best coverage possible for your unique situation. 

If you want more information about how your roof may affect your insurance coverage, we’d be glad to help. Erwin Insurance Agency has more than 55 years of experience helping Florida residents find the perfect coverage to suit their needs— whether they have a new roof or an old one! Just reach out today with any questions. 

Sheri McCredie, PLCS, is an account manager for Erwin Insurance Agency. With around 20 years experience in the industry, Sheri has developed a loyal base of customers and extensive base of knowledge on a broad range of insurance concepts and products.  She is particularly well known for her ability to find solutions for “hard to place” risks. In fact, she is so well known for these skills that other insurance agencies contact her to help when they run out of options themselves.