How Do Insurance Agents Determine Roof Damage Claims?

Extreme weather events have impacted many United States homeowners. Hail and high wind storms continue to plague residential areas and homes with severe damages. According to Weatherwise Magazine, ten extreme weather events during the past decade caused more than $400 billion in insurance claims, that included roofing damage.

In this 101 insurance guide, we'll teach you what roofing damages your homeowners' insurance policy will cover. You'll also learn how to protect yourself to before and after the insurance claims process.

What Do Homeowners Insurance Policies Cover?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners insurance policies provide financial protection against property losses caused by accidents, disasters and theft. Most policies provide four basic types of coverages for your home's structure, personal belongings, liability protection and additional living expenses.

The policy section that covers your home's structure will pay for roof repairs. The insurance company reimburses your roof claim repairs or rebuilding costs when your property is damaged or destroyed by fires, tornadoes, lightning, hail storms, or other natural disasters. Some policies also cover unattached structures like your garage, tool shed or gazebo.

A standard policy doesn't pay for property damages caused by floods or earthquakes. These policies are also not designed to cover maintenance issues caused by normal wear or tear on your roof.

How Carriers Cover Wind and Hail Damage on Roofs

Extreme weather events have rocked the nation over the past decade. As a result, insurance companies have had to pay out trillions in homeowners insurance claim settlements to their customers.

To limit roofing claims, home insurance companies now offer separate coverage tiers for wind and hail damage. Insurance carriers have also limited these factors based on age.

  1. Actual Cash Value (ACV) - If you have an older roof on your home, you can only get the actual cash value coverage for wind and hail damage instead of the replacement value coverage. They calculate this reimbursement rate using the depreciated value of your roof when the storm damaged it. They will also consider the roofing materials, their age, and other issues. You will get less money to repair your roof. As a result, you'll pay for the rest out of pocket.

  2. Replacement Cost Value (RCV) – This insurance option will allow a complete roof replacement when it has severe storm damage. Insurance companies only allow homeowners to purchase roof replacement coverage when they own a newer roof that's in great shape.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

The roof damage covered by your insurance depends on the terms of your homeowners' insurance policy. Your policy may cover roof claims that are accidental or immediate, such as wind or hail damage. There are two roof coverage policies that insurers may offer.

  1. Coverage for Partial Damage – The lifespan of your roof may decrease due to storm damage. An insurer may approve a partial roof replacement to prevent further problems. Insurance adjusters will evaluate your roof to determine whether it needs replacement if an area has enough blows caused by storm damage.

  2. Matching Issues for Your Roof – Your insurance company may have to replace your entire roof if they can't find enough materials to repair it. For instance, if they can't find enough copper metal, they may have to replace your entire roof to ensure your materials match.

  3. Fortified Roof Endorsement – Under most roofing insurance options, insurers don't allow policyholders to purchase a better roof than they already own. You can get a better system if you buy fortified roof endorsement coverage. This insurance option replaces your non-fortified roof with a better one if you must have your entire roof replaced. When you receive your new roofing system, it will meet the certification standards issued by the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

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Can Homeowners Exclude Wind and Hail Damage from their Insurance Coverage?

Yes, you can purchase a homeowners insurance option that excludes coverage for wind and hail damage. In storm-prone areas, such as Florida and Colorado, customers submit a higher number of hail and wind damage claims. Carriers pass along these costs in the form of higher premiums. To reduce your insurance rates, you can ask your insurer to exclude wind and hail damage from your homeowners' insurance policy.

  • Exclude hail or wind coverage to lower your premium - Some carriers will give each homeowner the option to either keep or exclude hail coverage in your homeowners' policy.

  • Select separate wind and hail damage policies - Some insurance companies may allow you to separate wind and hail storm coverage from hurricane insurance.

  • Sign up for a higher deductible to reduce your insurance rates - You can also opt for a higher deductible when purchasing wind and hail damage to reduce your premium.

Situations When Home Insurers May Not Cover Your Roof Damage

Every year, ask a roofing contractor to examine your roofing system to ensure it's well maintained and in excellent shape. Allowing your roof to fall into disrepair can have terrible consequences on your insurance coverage.

Here are some situations that an insurer won't cover storm damages on your roof.

1. Your insurer may not pay for storm damage if you've poorly maintained your roofing system.

Maintain your roof, or it can cause future problems with your insurance carrier. An insurer may not cover your storm damages if you didn't maintain your roof well before they occurred.

2. It doesn't pay the repair cost for issues caused by normal wear or tear

Homeowners' insurance policies won't cover damage caused by wear and tear, age or lack of maintenance.

3. Some policies won't cover roofs that are too old.

Not all insurers have age restrictions but check to see if yours does. Also, if you have put a new roof over an old one, its age is determined by the first layer of shingles. Some insurers will only insure a roof with one or maybe two layers, so think twice before lobbing on another roof. The insurance company determines whether they will pay after they inspect your reported damage.

The carrier will also have a list of roofing materials the policy excludes. Often, insurers don't fully cover slate, recycled and solar roofs due to the extra costs associated with their maintenance. For this reason, you should also be selective about the new roofing system you install (check your policy or change your homeowners' insurance company if your current one is unreasonable).

4. Earthquakes or Flooding.

Your homeowners' insurance won't cover roof damage caused by earthquakes or flooding. If you live in a flood-prone or earthquake-prone area, consider getting flood or earthquake insurance to protect your home.

You have Home Insurance Options

If you need a new insurance company to cover future roof damages from hail or wind before a storm hits, you can find a top-notch insurance company by using SmartFinancial.

Just enter your zip code on this page, and our agents will help you find an insurance company that will cover roof replacement when you file a claim. Your home insurance policy is as good as its ability to pay a claim, and we'll help you get a quote from the best insurance company in your area.

Home Insurance Companies Look at Roofing Materials

If you have a wood roof, you may pay higher premiums than homeowners with asphalt roofs. For instance, State Farm charges 25 percent more for dwelling coverage if you own a wooden roof.

If you own a metal roof, you may not get coverage for any cosmetic damage under your policy.

Your Homeowner Policy Deductible for Storm Damages

Did your homeowners insurance cover roof repair or replacement? The deductible is the shared cost you are responsible for paying under your policy. If you have a homeowners insurance policy, you may have to pay a deductible before your carrier pays for the rest of your coverage.

Some states require a special deductible for wind and hail damage from hurricanes. You may have to pay a higher deductible if you lose your roof during one of these storms.

Have Your Roof Inspected After a Storm

After a bad storm or natural disaster occurs, take time to check your roof for hail or wind damage. Get an expert to inspect your roofing system, even if it appears to have no damage from the outside. Only a qualified roofer can uncover deeper issues. Most are familiar with the roof insurance claim process.

A homeowner should inspect their roof for signs of leaks, holes, and other issues. If necessary, ask a reputable roofing contractor to stop by and check your roof for any damage.

Your homeowners' insurance all-perils section would cover a roof insurance claim for water damage to your floors, walls or property and the homeowners insurance claim process is straightforward.

Conduct Research Before Hiring a Roofing Company for Repairs

After a terrible storm, you're probably ready to hire a company to fix your roofing damage immediately, even if it means putting the charges on credit cards. Take these steps before you hire a contractor. It will help you save money and will ensure you find the best professional to handle the job.

Step One: Research your roof's dimensions

Before you contact a roofer, find out the size and dimensions of your roofing system. Next, ask your home's builder about the materials used to construct your roofing system.

Step Two: Estimate the cost of your new roof

Manufacturers usually price roofing materials by the square or 100 square foot area. Consumer Reports advises homeowners to multiple the overall length and width of each roof section in feet to measure the area, then tack on an additional ten percent to account for waste. It will help you make repairs in the future. Afterward, divide this number by 100 to determine how many squares you'll need.

A 2,300 square foot house will have about 30 squares to cover 3,00 square feet total.

The average roofing replacement cost can run from $260 to $700 per square foot depending on the materials used to construct your roof. According to Consumer Affairs, here are the average cost for different types of roofs.

  • Asphalt Roofing Shingles (Price: $65 - $350 per square foot)– Producers make these shingles from fiberglass layered with asphalt and ceramic granules. Asphalt shingles fall into three basic categories. Standard shingles are three-tab shingles made up of the cheapest, thinnest materials. Architectural shingles resemble wood shakes. Multilayered architectural shingles are the thickest and most expensive type.

  • Faux-Slate Roofing Shingles (Price: $310 - $500 per square foot) – Manufacturers make faux-slate shingles out of composite materials, such as plastic, polymer, clay, rubber or asphalt. They can last from 20 to 50 years.

  • Metal Roofs (Price: $850 to $1,140) – These are the priciest roofs on the market. They usually come in aluminum, alloy strips, copper and steel. Copper roofing is expensive. Since this roofing can be slick, make sure your contractor installs snow or fall guards to prevent people from falling off and suffering injuries. These roofs can last from 50 to 100 years.

Step Three: Select your roofing company

Comparison shop roofing contractors before you hire someone for roof repair. Get quotes from different roofing companies to find the most reliable and affordable one. Be wary of companies that provide low ball estimates to get your business. These may be unscrupulous companies that will cut corners during the roofing repair process.

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Things to Do Before and After You Have Storm Damage

There are several steps you should take before filing an insurance roof claim for damages.

Have you recently gone through a severe thunderstorm, hurricane or disaster caused by another weather event? If so, there are several steps you should prepare yourself before you file an insurance claim for roof damage with your insurance company.

1.) Get annual roof inspections before storms hit.

It's always a good idea to have a roof inspector give you an annual written report about the state of your roof, especially if you live in a storm-prone area. It will ensure you have proof after a storm that your roof didn't have pre-existing damage. Having recent photographs, especially before-and-after photos of the roof damage helps too.

Taking care of your roof is the most important thing you can do when you own a home. An old or damaged roof can lead to other expensive home damage. It may also prevent you from getting home insurance coverage.

2.) Protect your home from additional damages.

After an extreme storm damages your roof, or rips it off of you, take the necessary steps to prevent further damage to your home. Take a look at your entire home after a bad storm to learn if there are any damages there. Before you speak with an insurance adjuster, find out how much repairs will cost.

3.) After a storm, check for signs of roof damage.

Your roofing system may not show immediate signs of damage after a storm. But there are several steps you can take to check its integrity.

First, check the metal part that connects your chimney, vents and skylights to the roof. Also, examine your porch roof, where it meets the second story of your home. If there is corrosion or cracks in this area, replace it.

  • Look at the rubber gaskets around plumbing vents for deterioration and cracking. If you can't find any damage, you may not need to replace them.

  • If your shingle surfaces have cracks, abrasions or missing granules, replace them immediately.

  • Your roof may need repairs when the shingle edges or tabs have cups or curls.

  • Moss growth may look pretty, but it will eventually lead to roof problems, like rotted sheathing. Have a professional remove the moss and apply a treatment to kill any remaining spores.

  • Some signs of damage are not visible. After a severe storm, call in a trustworthy roofer to inspect your roof.

4.) Read your home insurance policy.

Before you file a claim for roof damage, approach your insurance agent to learn the terms of your contract. Find out if the insurance company uses actual cash value or replacement cost to cover the cost of repairs.

5.) Get an estimate from a roofing company.

Ask for a written estimate based on the repair instead of relying on the insurance carrier's estimate.

Ask a roofing company to provide you with access to a written estimate. This estimate should include the following materials in a written or digital form.

  • The amount of all materials the roofing contractor will need to repair your roof. (It should include roofing items, such as vents, flashing or other wind or hail damaged materials)
    • Labor costs
    • Work specifications
    • The start and end dates for the project
    • Payment options
    • Any secured building permits for your roofing repair project
    • Details about the roofing warranty

Make sure it's on letterhead and has the appropriate contact information for the roofing contractor. Before you agree to the roofer or insurer's contract terms, take note of all conditions that may void your roofing system's warranty.

6.) Get your insurance estimate done early.

Don't wait for months after a storm to file an insurance claim for roof repairs. You should start the insurance claim process immediately. It will prevent the insurer from claiming that normal wear and tear caused the damage.

7.) Keep all correspondences from your insurer.

You could run into future problems with your carrier regarding your insurance payment or claim. To avoid any issues, keep all records. It includes photographs, contact information, and the advice they gave.

8.) Create an inventory of property.

In case a problem causes damage to furniture, clothing and other property inside the home, it helps to have this handy.

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