3 Things Homeowners Should Know About Insurance Claims For Roof Repairs

Posted on: 15 August 2016

Hurricane season starts in the summer and continues through the fall. If you live in an area that may be affected by hurricanes or other severe storms, it's time to start considering how you'll pay for repairs if you need them. Your roof is one of the most expensive parts of your home that's at risk during storm season, so you need to know if your homeowner's insurance will cover damage or leaks if they occur. Take a look at a few things that will help you understand your roof repair coverage.

What Kind of Damage is Covered?

Every insurance policy is different, but as a general rule, damage cause by a hurricane or a tree that falls on your roof during a storm is what's called an "act of God" in insurance-speak, and your insurance company will probably pay something for these repairs.

However, if your roof isn't damaged by a storm, but you discover during a storm that your roof is leaking, it's possible that the damage won't be covered. Why? Because roof leaks are often caused by a failure on the part of the homeowner to maintain the roof, and many homeowner's insurance companies won't pay for damage that could have been avoided had the homeowner done the needed maintenance. That's why it's smart to have your roof evaluated by a professional roofer every year and minor repairs made as needed.

Make sure that you also keep the documentation of your roof inspections and repairs – documentation is key when it comes to making an insurance claim. Once a roofing inspector has documented that your roof is in good shape, you should also take some pictures of it that can be used as "before" pictures after a storm. That way, if a storm causes a small leak, you have visual proof that your roof was in good shape before the storm and that the damage was caused by the storm, not by neglect.

How Much Will The Insurance Company Pay?

Once you've established what kind of damage the insurance company will pay for, the next thing you need to know is how much they will pay. You probably have a deductible that you have to meet, but don't assume that your insurance will cover everything after the deductible. That really depends on what kind of coverage you have.

Roof coverage usually falls into one of two categories: replacement cost and actual cash value. The distinction between these two is important. A replacement cost policy will pay for the repairs to your roof, minus the cost of the deductible. An actual cash value policy will pay for the repairs to your roof minus the deductible and the depreciation of the roof.

So, if it's going to cost $10,000 to replace the roof that you've had for 10 years, and you have a $500 deductible, a replacement cost policy will pay $9500 toward the roof repairs. However, with an actual cash value policy and the same roof with the same deductible, the insurance company will take the fact that the roof is 10 years old into account. If the normal lifespan of that roof is 20 years, then your roof has depreciated by about 50% since you installed it. If it originally cost you $10,000, it's now worth $5000. The insurance company would subtract the deductible of $500, the depreciation of $5000, and pay $4500 toward the roof replacement. You would be responsible for the other $5500.

Keep An Eye on Policy Changes

It's also worth noting that your insurer may even further limit certain types of claims, even if they didn't when you first bought the policy. It's important to read carefully over the terms of the policy when you renew it so that these changes don't take you by surprise.

For example, because hail claims have increased by 84% in recent years, some insurers are trying to limit what they pay out on hail claims. If some of your damage was caused by hail, you may have to pay an additional deductible on that damage or exclude coverage of hail damage that's deemed a cosmetic issue, like dents.

When you choose a roofing company to do repairs on your home, look for one that has experience dealing with insurance companies – some roofing companies keep a Certified Public Adjuster on their payroll for just that reason. Your repair and claims process will be a lot smoother if you and your roofer are both well-informed about making insurance claims for roof repairs. For more information on roofing repairs, contact a roofing company like Allen Roofing & Construction Inc.