How Is Roof Damage Determined?
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Your homeowners insurance company will determine if they will cover roof damages by checking if the roof damages were caused by a covered peril. Covered perils in a standard home policy include damages from extreme weather, fallen tree limbs, fire and more. However, you will not be covered for mold, corrosion and standard wear and tear, which are commonly excluded from coverage.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?
Standard homeowners policies are open-peril policies, which means your roof damage will be covered so long as it was not caused by an excluded peril. At the very least, a standard policy will cover your roof for the following 16 perils:
Policyholders can check the dwelling coverage section of their homeowners insurance policy to learn more information about their coverage, exclusions and deductible.
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When Won’t Insurance Cover Damage to Your Roof?
If you have a standard homeowners insurance policy, check your policy or ask your insurance agent for a list of perils excluded from coverage. A standard homeowners insurance policy will not typically cover roof damages caused by the following perils:
- Vandalism if the property is vacant
- Damage from broken pipes if the property is vacant
- Theft if the property is under construction
- Wear and tear
- Pollution and corrosion
- Government actions
- Defective design and construction
- Pet damages
Insurance companies will not cover damages that slowly accrue from wear and tear or poor maintenance. Normal wear and tear can look like dark spots, fading color and uneven shingles. Proper maintenance can help improve the longevity of your roof and even improve your energy bill if it’s an energy-efficient roof.
What Are the Most Common Types of Roof Damage?
Damages to your roof can be caused by harsh weather, moisture buildup or even a fallen tree branch. Below are common types of damages that your roof may experience:
Water can be detrimental if it settles behind your shingles. Torn underlayments, failed sealants and loose tiles can accumulate moisture and, if left untreated, can result in mildew, rot, infestation and decay.
Wind and Hail Damage
If your roof has wind or hail damage, you may see cracks, tears or warping in your shingles. Some shingles may even be missing because they’ve fallen off. While you can’t stop extreme weather conditions, like wind or hail, you can maintain your roof to keep it durable against the elements.
Weight of Ice, Sleet and Snow
The weight of ice, heavy snow, sleet, or ice can cause your roof to collapse. One inch of ice weighs almost five pounds per square foot, and one foot of fresh, dry snow can start at three pounds per square foot, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fortunately, damages from the weight of ice and snow are covered under a standard home policy.
UV or heat damage can look like buckling or warped shingles or little bubbles on the shingle’s surface. Your roof is constantly exposed to the sun’s rays and can be susceptible to heat and UV damage.
Flashing is the metal that seals vents, chimneys, skylights and more. It keeps your roof safe from rain and water damage. Even a small crack, rust or puncture in the flashing can lead to bigger problems in the future.
Fungus and Debris
Improperly cleaned and poorly maintained gutters or drainage can encourage lichen and moss growth. Fungal growth underneath your shingles deteriorates your roof and leaves it susceptible to water or heat damage. Trimming tree branches that hang over the roof and keeping roof gutters clean can help prevent fungal growth.
Fallen Tree Branch
Your policy will cover the damage of a fallen tree branch if it was dislodged by a peril covered by your policy, like a strong gust during a storm or lightning. However, if the tree was in poor shape or dead for years, the event may not be covered since homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damages that result from a lack of maintenance. Therefore, always trim trees and remove dead limbs that could potentially damage your property.
How Do You Check for Roof Damage?
You can check for roof damages by inspecting the roof itself, looking for signs of leaks inside your home and by hiring a professional roof inspector.
Take a look at the physical condition of your roof by either carefully climbing up or using binoculars. Tell-tale signs to watch for include:
- Granules: Aging roofs have granules that get loose due to weather and time. You can check your gutter or the ground right below for granules.
- Clogged gutters: When gutters are clogged, rainwater can get behind the siding and cause expensive foundation damage. Luckily, it’s easy to check if your gutters are clogged or leaking.
- Missing shingles: Always check your roof after a major storm or periodically throughout the year. When a shingle is missing, it needs to be replaced immediately, otherwise, it can lead to mold, rotten wood and more.
- Hail Damage: After a hail storm, check for indentations in your air conditioning unit, siding and roof. You may need a professional roofer to inspect your roof.
- Broken or Curling Shingles: Broken or curling shingles are easy to spot and repair. Extensive damage may require a complete replacement.
Signs of a damaged roof may also be visible from inside your home. A leaky roof can show signs of water damage, like discoloration or dark spots on the walls or ceilings. Left untreated, this will lead to mold, structural damage and other issues.
Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor every one to two years to inspect your roof for potential problems, especially if your roof is more than 10 years old. A professional’s expertise will better understand how moisture, wind damage and fungal growth affect the integrity of your roof. They can also advise on when it’s time for a roof replacement.
How To File a Roof Insurance Claim
From documenting the damages to scheduling repairs with your roofing contractor, we’ve outlined the steps for filing a roof insurance claim below.
- Determine the extent of the damage: Either hire a professional or safely climb onto your roof to assess the damages.
- Take pictures: If you’ve noticed roof damage, take pictures of the roof’s condition and interior damages, such as water spots in the ceiling or upper walls. Your insurer will likely require a detailed report of the damage to determine repair costs.
- Get an estimate for repairs: Shop around with different contractors to get an estimate on the repair costs. Insurers will not pay if the cost of damage does not exceed your deductible (e.g., you need to replace a few shingles). Remember: your rates will likely go up even if your claim doesn’t lead to a payout.
- Determine what your policy will cover: Before filing an insurance claim, confirm if the damages were caused by a covered or excluded peril. See our earlier section for a list of covered perils and exclusions in a standard homeowners policy. Homeowners insurance will not replace an old and decaying roof, for instance.
- Call your insurer: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, as there may be a timeframe for filing a claim. Your insurance company may send an adjuster to personally assess the damages before offering a settlement amount.
- Replace your roof: After agreeing to a settlement with your insurance company, it’s time to schedule a reputable roofing contractor to complete the repairs. A standard home policy typically covers temporary housing while your home is undergoing repairs. Consult your insurance company for other reimbursable expenses, such as meals, washing services and even pet boarding.
How To Get Homeowners Insurance With a Bad Roof
Home insurers may deny coverage if your roof is too old, in poor shape or in a high-risk hurricane area. However, you can still get insurance for your roof via a high-risk policy, which often carries higher costs and less protection.
If you’re repeatedly denied in the traditional insurance marketplace, your best bet may be to apply for your state’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan, a type of high-risk policy with higher costs and less coverage. You won’t be stuck though. Homeowners can shop around every six months for a cheaper, traditional policy.
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Your roof is integral to your family’s safety and comfort. Your homeowners insurance can keep your family protected too. Homeowners insurance will cover roof damages caused by a sudden accident or a weather event. SmartFinancial can help you shop around for homeowners insurance that fits your budget and needs. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to get started on your free homeowners insurance quote.