Roof damage is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and a severe storm can damage or destroy a home’s roof. A homeowner will probably look to his or her homeowner’s insurance policy for coverage after any type of storm-related roof damage. However, it is important for all homeowner’s insurance policyholders to understand the scope of their coverage and which types of roof damage qualify for coverage.
Many insurance carriers attempt to limit the number of claims for small roof issues by restricting coverage for roof damage. The average homeowners insurance policy will likely cover damage from “acts of God” like falling trees, severe storms, arson, and vandalism, but a policyholder should carefully read the fine print when it comes to the roof coverage section of a policy.
Some insurers will refuse to insure roofs of a certain age. For example, an insurer may refuse to provide complete replacement coverage for a 20+ year-old roof and will only pay the cash value of the old roof in the event of any severe roof damage. This leaves the policyholder responsible for the remainder, and a full roof replacement is one of the most expensive repairs a homeowner will encounter. The benefit is that a well-done roof repair should last another 20 years or longer, depending on materials and construction. However, policyholders also need to take the risk of storm damage in their areas into account.
Insurers price their coverage based on the perceived level of risk for a covered event. For example, when it comes to roof damage, an area that is more susceptible to severe storms or hurricanes will likely see higher insurance premiums and more restrictive roof damage coverage than areas that see little precipitation and few severe storms. Most homeowner’s insurance carriers have specific conditions pertaining to the age of a roof, the age of the home, the material used in a roof’s construction, and secondary types of damage like water damage, mold, and cracked foundations from storm damage.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies will require policyholders to take adequate steps to prevent damage to their roofs from foreseeable causes. For example, a policy may state that coverage will only apply if a homeowner contacts the insurance provider for an inspection immediately after the roof sustains damage. Other conditions exist, as well, in regard to cleaning, maintenance, and clearing away overhanging trees that could potentially damage the roof.
It is also a good idea for homeowners to coordinate inspections from certified roofers before purchasing a homeowners insurance policy. This way the homeowner has a record of the roof’s condition and can prove there was no preexisting damage if a storm damages the roof. Preexisting damage can also influence premium amounts, so it is cost-effective for homeowners to invest in inspections so they can purchase appropriate coverage that will take effect when they need it.
When damage occurs, some insurance companies will attempt to limit coverage to specific types of damage covered in a policy rather than honor all damages related to a claim. For example, a severe storm with high winds and hail causes severe damage to a roof. If the homeowner’s policy only covers wind damage but does not cover hail damage, the insurer may deny the claim or only offer partial coverage. It is also possible for an insurer to contest a claim. For example, the insurer could order an inspection of claimed damages and contest the homeowners claimed hail damage, saying it was actually just wear-and-tear from age.
It is ultimately a personal choice to purchase an insurance policy, and homeowners worried about roof damage should take the time to carefully select an insurance provider with a strong reputation and a policy that covers the highest areas of risk for the home. It is vital for policyholders to remember that more extensive coverage will be more expensive to maintain, but the alternative could mean paying out of pocket for an extremely expensive roof replacement.
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