A roof is one of the most important parts of a house. It's the first line of defense against inclement weather. A leaky roof spells big trouble for the rest of the house.
Because of this, insurance companies place big importance on the roof when assessing a house. It's one of the first factors an insurer analyzes. Your roof's quality and condition plays a big role in how much you pay for homeowners insurance.
This article will cover different roof types and how they impact homeowners insurance premiums.
Why Your Roof Matters for Home Insurance Companies
It's relatively simple. When bad weather hits – be it rain, snow, hail, or wind – your roof takes the brunt of it. If your roof isn't up to the task, that bad weather can make its way into the house. If that happens, your home can suffer severe damage. And that means you will probably need to file a claim.
When you file a claim, you cost your home insurance company money. Insurance companies go through great lengths to assess the risk level of the people they cover. People or homes with high-risk levels are more likely to file a claim. Insurance companies, in turn, charge higher rates to cover them.
In other words, if your roof is faulty, cheap, or plain old, your insurance company believes you are more likely to need to file a claim in the future. That's why they will charge you more for homeowners insurance.
Five Most Common Roof Material Types
There are several different common roof types. Each have varying costs, lifespans, and pros and cons. Some roof materials are ideal for specific climates and regions. These are the six most common roofing materials:
- Asphalt shingle: This is the most common roof material. When you picture an 'average house,' it probably has an asphalt shingle roof. It's popular for a few reasons:
Asphalt shingles may suffer in extremely windy conditions. FEMA recommends that homeowners in high-wind areas use specific installation methods for asphalt shingle roofs.
- At about $90 square, it's the most affordable roof material.
- It's got a life expectancy between 15 to 25 years.
- You can install asphalt shingles over an existing roof
- Asphalt shingles are fire resistant
Additionally, asphalt shingles aren't great in extremely hot places. That's because asphalt shingles can reach temperatures that are 50 to 60 degrees higher than the ambient temperature. High heat exposure will age the shingles faster than anticipated.
Your insurance rates probably won't suffer with an asphalt shingle roof. Unless, of course, that roof is old or in bad condition.
- Tile: Available in either clay or concrete, tile is a common roofing material. Both clay and concrete tiles offer their own benefits and drawbacks.
Both tile types are extremely durable and require low maintenance. Their durability and longevity come in part because of their heavy weight. Clay roofs last for about a century, while concrete tiles have a 50-year lifespan. Both tile types can withstand fire, heat, hail, and dangerous wind speeds. But neither is ideal for cold weather climates, as they can freeze and crack.
Concrete tiles cost between $300 to $500 per square, depending on the quality of the concrete. The cost of clay tiles falls between $800 to $1000 per square, making it one of the most expensive roof types.
Clay tiles are often chosen for their aesthetic appearance. They're the ideal option for an adobe, Italian, or Spanish style house.
Clay and concrete tiles can raise your homeowners insurance rates. Since they are expensive, your house's replacement cost will need to reflect it. Due to the significant weight of these tiles, having a structurally sound home is crucial.
- Wood shakes: Wood shakes are popular due to their unique appearance. They add a classic look to any house.
However, wood shakes are a huge liability for insurance companies. They're extremely flammable, unless treated with proper chemicals. Also, they're more susceptible to wind damage than other roof types. Finally, wood is more susceptible to mold.
Due to their delicate nature, wood shakes require frequent maintenance. With a 15 to 20-year lifespan, they don’t last long either. They cost between $350 to $450 per square, meaning they aren't exactly cheap.
If your house has a wood shake roof, you're going to pay more for insurance. In some cases, insurers may refuse to cover a house with wood shakes. Your chances of finding coverage improve if the roof has fire retardant coating, but that requires regular touchups.
- Slate: Slate roofs are like tile roofs in that they are both expensive and heavy. It cannot be added to a home that isn't built specifically for slate.
At a cost between $800 to $1600 per square, slate is extremely expensive. Though it's costly, a slate roof can last for a lifetime. It won't require much maintenance, either.
Due to the high price, slate roofs can bump your home insurance's replacement cost. In addition, the added weight requires a well-built home.
- Metal: Metal roofs have several benefits. They're light-weight and durable. Plus, they are both fire and rot resistant. And metal roofs can handle a variety of inclement weather including heavy rain, wind, hail, and snow.
Insurers know that metal roofs are safe and durable, so don't expect to pay more for your policy. Metal roofs cost about $500 per panel, which adds up. In addition, installing a metal roof is a complex process. There's a lot of room for error, so proper installation is a must. A properly installed metal roof can last a lifetime.
If you're looking to save energy, metal roofs are excellent in that regard. Metal reflects sunlight, shrinking your air conditioning costs.
Does Insurance Cover Roof Damage?
Maintaining a high-quality roof is a must. It's a preventative step that can save homeowners from expensive headaches down the road. If your roof isn't well-maintained, your insurance company may deny claims for roof damage.
Assuming your roof isn't in shambles, a standard insurance policy covers the following roof damages:
- Falling objects
But the extent to which insurance covers these damages depends on a few factors:
- Age: If you have an asphalt shingle roof that is over 10 years old, for example, the likelihood of claim denial goes up. Or they may offer a claim settlement that is lower than you hoped. Your insurance company can argue that roof damages were exacerbated by the roof's age.
Imagine that your roof leaks after a heavy rainstorm. Your insurance company, knowing that your roof is 10 years old, may argue that the leak was due to the roof's age rather than unusually strong rains. They may also opt to only pay for the roof's depreciated value.
- Condition: Your roof's condition goes hand-in-hand with its age. But improper installation can hurt your chances of a successful claim.
After you file a claim, your insurance company will likely send a professional to assess the damage. If they find signs of inadequate construction or maintenance, they can deny the claim. Most policies include exclusionary language regarding faulty roof installation. That language also extends to improper maintenance.
To avoid this, make sure all roofing work is done by certified professionals. Also, stay up to date with roof maintenance.
- Your policy: As we mentioned, policies include exclusions for what is and isn't covered. A policy may exclude wood shake shingles, improper installation, roofs over 20 years old, cosmetic damages, and more.
A vital part of your policy is whether claims are paid out based on actual cash value or replacement cost. With actual cash value, your roof's age and condition are accounted for. Depreciation is subtracted from your payout. With replacement cost, it's simply the cost to fully replace the roof to its original state.
- Where you live: Home insurance companies tailor their coverage to the surrounding area. You may need coverage add-ons to address your area's biggest risks.
Some insurance companies will offer one-size-fits-all policies in areas with specific risks. In Oklahoma, for example, many insurance companies only offer actual cash value policies. That's due to the high risk in covering roof damage in tornado alley.
Ask your insurance company about region-specific exclusions.
5 Ways You Roof Can Lower the Cost of Insurance
Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home, and it's a big factor in the price of your insurance policy. Having a proper roof will save you considerable money on home insurance.
Why? A properly installed and well-maintained roof with ideal materials will decrease your chances of filing a claim. Houses with good roofs are a lower risk for insurers.
These are the five most important steps to get a great deal on insurance:
- Choose the right roof materials: Pick a roof that is appropriate for your home and your region. What does that mean? Don't install a roof with wood shakes in an area that is dry or fire-prone. Don't install tiles in a place with freezing cold winters.
Licensed roofers know what roof materials do and don't work in your area. They can help you pick the right roof for your home. The price of your insurance policy will reflect your choice.
That's part of the reason why asphalt shingles are so popular. On top of their affordable price, they are one size fits all in the sense that they can handle most types of bad weather. Installing a high-quality asphalt shingle roof won't raise your rates.
- Proper installation: As mentioned earlier, an improperly installed roof is a big liability. It has a shorter lifespan and is more susceptible to damage. If your improperly installed roof is damaged, there's a good chance your insurance will deny the claim. They will argue that the damage is due to the roof's poor installation.
You can avoid this by simply hiring a certified, professional roofer. Do your research and get quotes from multiple companies. Ask for references and proof of licensure.
- Maintenance: Simple maintenance goes a long way. It increases your roof's lifespan. And it'll help keep your insurance premiums low. Here are simple steps to keep your roof well maintained:
- Remove any debris from the roof like branches and leaves
- Keep the gutters clean
- Don't walk on the roof
- Replace broken and worn shingles
- Get your roof inspected every few years
- Cut down any dead trees that are on your property and near your house
- Check for any pests
- Remove any moss and mold
- Keep photos and paperwork: Insurance companies love a good paper trail. It makes their job easier. Take plenty of photos of any work done on the roof. Make sure that you keep detailed records of said work, including receipts and estimates. It will help you tremendously in the event of a claim.
- Pick the right insurance company: As we previously discussed, each insurance company has their own policy requirements. That includes exclusions. It's possible you find yourself unsatisfied with your insurer's exclusions and prices. If that's the case, you can combat that by shopping around and comparing quotes from other insurance companies. You may find that two insurance companies offer considerably different prices for the same coverage.
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