Have you seen ads from contractors promising to get your roof replaced by your home insurance company? These misleading advertisements can create a false impression that home insurance might pay to replace worn-out roofs.
Insurance can pay for roof replacement or damage from a covered event but not from normal wear and tear.
The fact is that home insurance can cover the cost of roof repairs and replacements if the damage is the result of a covered event, such as fire, windstorm, or hail. Normal wear and tear from an aging roof are not covered by insurance -- and there are good reasons for this. Let's break it down.
Your home's roof needs maintenance
Home insurance coverage works best when you maintain your home and do everything you can to prevent damage. Like other parts of your home's exterior, your roof needs maintenance and has a life span. There will come a point where your roof needs to be replaced. It's definitely a big-ticket item you should be planning for.
Old roofs cause a problem when it comes to home insurance claims because their age makes them more susceptible to damage that may not be sudden or accidental. Your homeowners policy will not cover the cost to repair a roof if the damage resulted from lack of maintenance or wear.
For that reason, an annual inspection by a professional roofing company is critical to protect your home and prevent costly damage. Home roofs can be dangerous to access and issues are difficult to assess without proper equipment and a trained eye. We encourage you to hire a professional to do this job every year and after a severe weather event.
A licensed and certified professional Virginia roofer will check for the following:
- Interior issues with insulation, ventilation, and leakage
- Damaged, worn, or missing shingles
- Missing or damaged flashing
- Exposed or loose nails
- Issues with gutters affecting the roof
- Missing caulk
- Rot and mold
- Excessive granule loss
- Chimney cracks
- Signs of animal intrusion
When does insurance pay for roof replacement?
Homeowners insurance can help replace a well-maintained roof if it has been damaged by a sudden and unexpected peril beyond repair. Coverage includes certain perils or events including:
- fire or lightning
- windstorms or hail
- riots of civil unrest
- damage caused by an aircraft
- damage caused by vehicles, smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, volcanic eruption,
falling objects, or weight from ice.
An example would be significant roof damage to your home caused by a major fire beyond repair. If your home has an older roof that’s damaged by this sudden covered event, your home insurance policy will determine if you are reimbursed for the roof's actual cash value (ACV). When your home insurance policy has ACV coverage, depreciation (age and wear of roof) is subtracted from the replacement cost of a new roof. In this case, you are not getting the full amount required to replace the roof. Some homeowners insurance policies allow you to add replacement cost coverage which can reimburse you for the full cost of a new roof.
When does home insurance pay for roof repair?
Home insurance can cover damage to a well-maintained roof if it was caused by a sudden and unexpected peril or event but can be repaired. An example of this would be a windstorm that caused minor damage and your roof can be repaired. Some homeowners insurance can also cover things like:
- sudden and accidental failure of a water heater
- damage caused by freezing, sudden and accidental damage from an electrical current
- accidental discharge or overflow of water from a home system, air conditioning, or fire-protective system.
When does insurance not pay for roof repair or replacement?
The age of your roof, as well as regular maintenance, play an important role in determining if the roof damage happened as a result of wear and/or neglect. Your insurance adjuster may look to see if a lack of maintenance or age made the roof more susceptible to damage. Having an old roof can make it harder to get roof damage covered by homeowners insurance. An example would be water damage inside your home because your roof has been slowly leaking from wind damage that was not identified for years. In this case, the condition that led to damage is the result of neglect. Water damage to a home’s interior is very common with a bad roof, and a windstorm coupled with an old roof could do serious damage to your home. Home insurance also does not cover damage related to termites and insects, birds or rodents, and rust, rot, or mold.
Insurance carriers also may require that you replace your roof to continue coverage after a claim if they determine the damage resulted from neglect or an inspection with pictures. Most insurance companies give homeowners a period of time to make repairs or replacements to avoid the risk of non-renewal of the policy. No insurer will want to cover your home if it has an older roof that needs to be replaced because there’s a high risk of damage.
In some cases, the damage to your roof may not be major enough to cause issues with its structure or function. If the damage to the roof is deemed cosmetic and does not affect its functionality, you may not be reimbursed for your roof claim.
Roof replacement and homeowners insurance rates
One of the biggest misunderstandings around homeowners insurance and roof replacement is home insurance should pay for a new roof because you have loyally paid your premium for a certain number of years. The thought logic is that your homeowners policy acts as a home warranty program or savings account.
If insurance paid for roofs to be replaced that resulted from a lack of maintenance, no one would feel the need to make repairs or replace their own roof. The financial burden of claims due to homeowner neglect would unfairly raise home insurance rates for everyone. The cost of home insurance would be astronomical. You can learn more about what factors impact home insurance rates. You also might be interested in how the insurance industry has been impacted by the effects of the pandemic, causing homeowners insurance costs to rise.
Seeking regular counsel from a home insurance expert is one of the best ways to learn how to protect your home and your finances and understand your home insurance coverage. Our local agents are in your community ready to serve you and we are too. Let us know how we can help.
Learn more about homeowners insurance in Virginia >
THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE — We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.