Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Replacement?

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Written by
Cara Carlone
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Roof replacement can be a big expense for homeowners. Does homeowners insurance offer coverage for roof replacement? The quick answer to that question is yes, it does. But it depends on the circumstances that led to a new roof being needed.

Just as with a lot of other home insurance coverage, it normally comes down to what caused the damage. If it was a sudden, unexpected and unpreventable occurrence, then you can safely assume that your insurance will provide coverage. If this seems  unclear to you, read on. With 20 plus years spent assisting consumers gain a better understanding of their insurance coverage, I’m here to help.

Key Takeaways

  • If roof replacement for specific causes are excluded in your standard policy, you might be able to add an endorsement to your insurance that will cover those exclusions

  • It’s likely that in many cases your home insurance policy will cover roof replacement, depending on the circumstances that led to its damage

  • A home warranty might help defray the cost of a roof replacement to your home for events that are specifically excluded from coverage in your standard policy

One thing you need to understand is that the majority of home insurers are not going to cover damage that requires a roof replacement if it is shown to be an ongoing problem, with the damage being sustained over a period of time, and that could have been prevented if you had done your due diligence in preventive maintenance.

For example, if your roof replacement is needed because mice or termites have damaged your roof to the extent that it can’t feasibly be repaired and needs replacing, chances are your home insurance company is not going to feel inclined to pay for it. Why not? Because this sort of damage ordinarily takes a long time to progress to such a point of destruction. It’s not a sudden, unexpected event that couldn’t have been prevented if addressed in a timely manner.

There are exceptions to this, though. Here are two examples:

  1. If hidden termites or mice gnaw through electrical wires in your attic and start a fire that burns enough of your roof to require replacing it, your insurance provider might cover the damage since it would be considered accidental
  2. If your roof collapses due to hidden termites or rodents such as squirrels, rats or mice chewing the wood, your insurance carrier might well pay for replacing the roof

Does Your Home Insurance Provide Coverage For Roof Replacement?

Roof replacement is usually covered by home insurance.

Let’s examine some examples of perils that your homeowners insurance would almost certainly cover for roof replacement:

  • Smoke and/or fire damage
  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • The weight of snow or ice
  • Falling objects such as trees

In such cases, it’s most likely that your home insurer will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your roof. Here’s one thing of note: If an adjuster or professional believes that a total roof replacement isn’t necessary and that your roof can be patched up well enough with repairs, the insurance provider probably won’t agree to pay for a whole new roof.

What Events Are Covered By Home Insurance For Roof Replacement?

In a nutshell, almost any extreme weather event that causes the need for a roof replacement is covered by home insurance.

  • Hidden Damage: As I mentioned above, hidden damage from animals, (including termites) that is unseen and spreads to the roof, causing it to collapse, is typically a covered peril and your insurer will pay for repair or roof replacement.
  • If not determined to be due to negligence on the part of the homeowner in some way, most weather events will qualify for coverage for roof replacement or repairs.
  • Hail Damage: Hail is ice frozen hard and can be quite large, even as big as tennis balls or bigger. So, it’s easy to see how it can do a lot of damage to your home, your roof included.

Here’s the thing about your insurance providing coverage for any of these events. You must be able to show that you couldn’t have reasonably prevented the damage. For example, if your roof was missing numerous shingles for an extended length of time and you did nothing to replace them, then a storm caused water damage that rotted the decking of the roof, it’s doubtful that your home insurance carrier will cover a roof replacement simply because if you had replaced any missing shingles, the damage wouldn’t have occurred.

Note: Some homeowner insurance policies have a separate deductible for hurricanes or wind storms. The deductible might be a percentage of your dwelling amount, so check your deductible before you file a claim. You don’t want to file a claim if your deductible is going to be more than the amount of the damage.

When Is A Roof Replacement Not Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

Now that we’ve explored some of the circumstances that would probably be covered by your insurer for a roof replacement, let’s move on to the flip side of the coin and look at some events that wouldn’t be covered.

This bears repeating: As a general rule, most homeowners insurance policies will not cover roof replacement if the damage that necessitates it could have been seen by the homeowner, and addressed before any significant damage was done.

If the insurance provider determines that the damage to the roof was gradual, extending over a length of time, and that it should have been seen and preventive measures taken to correct the problem before damage occurred, the chances of them agreeing to pay for a roof replacement are slim to none.

What Should You Do If Your Home Needs A Roof Replacement?

The first thing to do is to make an assessment of the damage and get a ballpark estimate of how much it will cost to replace the roof. You’ll need to obtain this estimate from a professional roofing company. Get it in writing. Make a copy of this estimate and save the original for your insurer.

Then, look over your home insurance policy. If it looks as though a roof replacement is not going to be covered in this particular case, you’ll have to hire pros to do the job, or do it yourself. While roofing isn’t rocket science, it nevertheless calls for experience and knowledge of how to do it right. It’s also a job where time is of the essence. The old roof, or what’s left of it, will have to be torn off and the new roof shingled before any inclement weather comes along.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Avoid Roof Replacement?

There are things you can do to lessen or outright prevent the need for a roof replacement. I’ll add a qualifier to that statement: This is assuming that your roof is less than 20 years old. Any roof, even the best, will deteriorate from normal wear and tear as time goes by, which means it will probably need replacing at some point regardless of how proactive you are about preventing problems.

Here are some actions you can take to make sure your roof stays in good repair for as long as possible:

  • Keep Gutters Clean: Clean gutters on a regular basis to prevent water from overflowing and building up. Clogged gutters can cause water to seep under shingles and damage the roof.
  • Get Rid of Moss and Algae: Remove moss and algae as soon as you spot either of them. The growth of these things can trap moisture in and weaken roofing shingles, leading to roof damage.
  • Check Flashing and Seals: Inspect roof flashing—the metal strips around chimneys, vents, and skylights—for signs of wear or damage. Also, make sure that all seals surrounding vents and pipes are intact so as to prevent leaks.
  • Trim Overhanging Tree Limbs: Trim tree limbs that are hanging over your roof. Falling limbs can cause significant damage to shingles as well as clogging gutters.
  • Inspections: You need to routinely check for damages to your roof or potential problems that might cause damage. This includes overhanging tree limbs, areas of the roof that are sagging, missing shingles, loose flashing and more. You might also consider hiring a professional to inspect your roof annually.
  • Provide Adequate Ventilation: Your roof should be ventilated to protect it from extreme heat in the summer that can damage shingles and also cause moisture buildup which brings all kinds of problems.
  • Have Enough Insulation: Having the right amount of insulation under your roof will help head off a lot of damage down the line. It helps to prevent ice dams in winter and regulates the temperature of the roof year round.
  • Don’t Walk On Your Roof: Unless you absolutely have to, avoid walking on your roof as this can cause damage to the shingles.

When Should You File An Insurance Claim For Roof Replacement?

You need to ascertain up front whether or not the damage to the roof can be repaired, or if it will require a roof replacement. If the latter, you’ll probably decide to file a claim with your home insurance policy–provided it’s covered–simply because unless you live in a very small house, the cost of roof replacement isn’t cheap.

The major factors to consider are how much of a deductible you have, along with whether or not filing a claim will save you enough money to offset the probable rise in premiums after you file.

Some homeowners choose a high deductible, more or less trading it for a lower premium. This is fine, except for something as costly as a roof replacement you might wish you had gone a different route and selected a smaller deductible. Your insurer is not going to pay any benefits until you pay your deductible, by the way.

You’ll have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of filing a claim and then proceed from there.

How Do You File An Insurance Claim For Roof Replacement?

If the roof replacement is a covered event, filing a claim is more or less the same as filing another sort of claim.

Note: Some insurers have separate deductibles for wind or hurricane losses. These deductibles may be a percentage of your home’s dwelling limit and not a flat amount. Always look at the correct deductible before deciding whether the damage is more than that amount.

Here are 3 steps to take if you’re filing a claim for roof replacement:

  1. Go through your home insurance policy to see whether or not a roof replacement will be covered under the circumstances that necessitate it.
  2. Document everything that pertains to the roof replacement. This includes details about the event that caused the damage to the roof. Take clear photos of the roof damage, as well as any other damages from the event that caused it. Make copies of receipts, estimates, or invoices for materials and labor that will be needed for the replacement. Also, keep all  contracts.
  3. You need to notify your insurance provider of the problem. They will then send an adjuster to inspect damages and make a determination as to whether or not your policy provides coverage. The adjuster will make an estimate of the cost of roof replacement.

Once all this is done, the work can begin to replace your roof. A word of caution: Although it may be tempting to hire a wildcat roofing outfit that will do the job cheaper than a licensed and bonded company, don’t do it. Your insurer might refuse to do the work unless it’s carried out by a licensed and bonded contractor and void your insurance, refuse to pay the claim, or limit coverage. Not to mention that you’re liable to get shoddy work and there won’t be much, if anything, you can do about it.

Are There Other Types Of Coverage Available For Roof Replacement?

There may be other coverage options available in the event that roof replacement is an exclusion in your home insurance policy.

Endorsements, or riders as they’re often called, are modifications made to your insurance policy that changes your coverage. For instance, if your policy has a specific exclusion for coverage of roof replacement, you may be able to secure optional coverage that enhances home insurance protection, so that an exclusion like roof replacement is covered.

Separate insurance policies for roof replacement are generally not an option as this is considered part of your dwelling coverage. However, if your roof replacement is not covered by your home insurance, you might consider purchasing a Home Warranty. Although a Home Warranty isn’t insurance, it might help cover things not covered by your home insurance.

Home warranties will often include coverage for systems, appliances, and roof repairs or replacement.



Can you buy separate insurance coverage for roof replacement?

Probably not. You might be able to tack on an endorsement to your home insurance policy, though, that will cover roof replacement. You’ll need to consider the cost of adding an endorsement to your existing policy and decide if the added cost will be justified. Roof replacement can be pricey, so it may be worth the expense.

Does a Standard Home Insurance Policy Cover Roof Replacement?

There are many instances where roof replacement might be covered under your home insurance.

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