How to get insurance to pay for roof replacement costs
In 20 years of business, we've never had a client get excited about unexpected roofing bills. Here's what you should investigate to get insurance to help pay the costs of roof replacement or repair.
Insurance Covering of Roof Replacement Costs Executive Summary
As mentioned, over 20 years roofing, we know that it's not exactly a "jump up and down" for joy situation when you're staring down a completely unexpected $8,000, $13,000 or $20,000 bill to replace your roof. The other thing we’ve witnessed is that many of our clients don’t even know that they can get insurance to cover either all or part of their roofing expenses.
Insurance Will Generally Cover:
- Storm damage (such as hail, falling trees or wind damage).
Insurance Will Not Cover:
- Normal Wear and Tear Damage.
- Damage resulting from negligent maintenance.
- Damage from improper installation by the roofing contractor.
While it’s easier if there’s immediate storm damage, you don’t always have to wait for a storm to make a claim. In many cases, homeowners who have been paying into their insurance policy for decades, but never made a claim, and have prove-able storm damage from the period, can qualify for insurance coverage.
Comprehensive Costing Guide
Want to know about how much your new roof will cost? Guide detailing what goes into the average cost to replace a roof.
Guide to Estimates
What goes into an estimate to replace your roof? This guide tells you the details.
Step 1: Get Evidence of Roof Damage To Your Property
The insurance company is going to heavily scrutinize your claim, they’re in the business of making sure they pay the least amount possible, or straight out deny the claim if there’s any indication it isn’t legitimate (as they should).
You (the policy holder) will be expected to provide at minimum:
- Evidence of damage (such as photos of before and after)
- Comprehensive Documentation
If the damage caused by storms wasn’t recent, you will have to go through a few other hoops with the insurance company to get reviews on your claim. You will want to check your insurance policy directly for the section on roof replacements.
Step 2: Check Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
There are generally two categories of policy in your homeowners insurance, 1) Roof is less than 10 years old (this will typically grant you full cost repair or replacement reimbursements) and 2) Older roofs (usually 10+ years old). Older roofs will still pay out on claims, however it will be for the depreciated value of the roof.
In other words, for roofs that are over 10 years old, you can expect that after the claim is reviewed, for the insurance company to adjust the value of your roof based on it’s age and diminished value (vs. brand new installation), and issue payment based on the reduced diminished value before the damage occurred.
However, your insurance policy could vary greatly. Some companies start depreciating the roof right away (immediately after replacement), others will give you the full value of the roof (or partial roof replacement) without depreciation no matter the age.
Please note: Generally your insurance isn’t going to pay for a full roof replacement, if only a section, say the area over the garage, is damaged.
How Often To Replace Roof
Curious about the details on how often you should be replacing your roof? Click below for more info.
Average Cost to Replace a Roof
Cheat sheet to break down your average cost to replace a roof. For more information check roof replacement cost page above.
Roof Replacement Calculator
Curious about a rough calculation for your roof replacement? Click here to find get a quick cost calculation.
Step 3: Get a Roof Damage Inspection & Estimate
Generally, the insurance company will want to see an estimate to either do a roof replacement or roof repair for the damaged areas, so you will want to get estimates from a certified roofing company in order to help build supporting evidence towards your claim.
We’d suggest asking the roofing company if they offer inspections, usually intended either for insurance or when appraising the roof condition for a home sale, in addition to the estimate to have a record of the damage done on your end to submit alongside your claim.
Steps to take after you believe there to be damage to your roof:
As soon as you can, report the problem to your insurance company after reviewing your policy documentation. The insurance company will then send out an inspector, who will determine whether or not your roof’s damage was caused by normal aging (not covered) or if it was caused directly by storms.
It is critical to file for an inspection of your roof’s damage as quickly as you can and as quickly as you have your own documentation in order. Doing so sooner rather than later will help validate that your roof was legitimately damaged from storms, and speed up the time it’ll take to process the paperwork and issue payment so you can have your roof replacement costs covered.
What to Expect From the Insurance Company:
Some facts: homeowners will generally have paid insurance premiums for decades and while insurance companies are more than happy to accept the monthly payments, they’re usually very, very conservative to pay out on a claim.
The typical insurance company will try to make the damage out to be a “non-covered occurrence,” so that they can deny the claim and force you to come out of pocket.
Here’s what they’ll do:
- An independent adjuster comes to inspect the roof for damage after your claim. What’s important here, is that usually the insurance hired adjuster is going to look for ways to specifically deny your claim.
- If legitimate damage is found, the recommendation is going to almost always be the cheapest possible fix to the problem. This is to save the insurance company money (as they are acting in their interest, not yours).
Unfortunately, while the independent adjuster that will be sent by the company isn’t officially an “employee” of the insurance provider, you can bet your bottom dollar that they certainly don’t hire adjusters with a history of finding damage that insurance will pay out on.
In fact, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to have an inspector who has sight issues - who can’t see the damage on the roof. The more claims that are denied means the more money they keep.
Now, bear in mind that all of this is assuming that your damage on the roof is legitimate and not the result of improper installation or that the roof is just old. Please don’t try to make claims when there’s no legitimate claim to be made. It isn’t worth the hassle.
However, if your claim is legitimate, that doesn’t mean the adjuster, for reasons stated above, is going to just “give it to you.” Even if you have shingles that are blowing off the roof or coming up when there’s a slight breeze, that are very clearly and obviously caused by a wind storm, the first thing the inspector is going to do is attempt to blame it on “improper installation,” or “negligent maintenance.” Improper installation is the most common reason cited. Which is another reason to not go with the cheapest bid, because if you get the cheapest work done, you can bet the corners are cut somewhere, and odds are much higher of actual improper installation by the roofing company.
The last thing you want is for the adjustment to come back as a bad roofing installation by the contractor 10 years ago, and not because of the storm that just blew off the roof.
This inspection is super critical because the vast majority of claims will be approved or denied based on what the adjuster puts down.
The other thing to watch out for, is an undervaluation of your roofing claim. A lot of the time, if the claim is approved, the approval will underbid the cost of the replacement. This has serious consequences, because if the price is undervalued versus the real cost of roof replacement and you find a contractor whose willing to do the roof replacement for that undervalued cost, you’ve
just opened yourself up to cut corners that will almost certainly lead to a denied claim in the future for “improper installation” when 3, 4 or 5 years down the road the roof leaks again.
What if the Roof Claim is Denied?
If the initial inspection claim is denied, and the storm damage is legitimate, there are some things you can do to object to the denial and still win out.
- Call roofing contractors in the area, find the ones who have experience in countering insurance claims. Have them get an estimate and detailed independent inspection of the damage. This helps evidence in your case.
- If the roofing company alone can’t help you with the claim (e.g. still being fought), find an independent “Public Adjuster.” These professionals are people who are advocates for you (the homeowner) rather than for the insurance company. They will usually get paid based on your claim going through so they act in your interest.
- After using steps 1 and 2, and the claim still hasn’t gone through (again, we’re assuming that there’s legitimate damage here), find an attorney to take the case. Many local attorney’s will litigate the case and not charge any upfront fees for the case, and like the Public Adjusters, will be paid upon a successful claim.