More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
There are homeowners insurance options available for houses with bad roofs, but keep in mind that coverage is generally more expensive.
Published October 19, 2020
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One of the most difficult parts of owning a home is recognizing when to invest in a new roof. A few missing shingles may not seem like a significant structural issue worth addressing, but it might be one ice dam or snow buildup away from caving in. No one recognizes that risk more than your homeowners insurance company, and it’s very possible that — after your inspection — they’ll send you a notice requiring you to replace your roof, or risk being dropped from the insurance policy.
This can lead to confusion for many homeowners, who may be left wondering: Why do I need to replace my entire roof because of one small section with slight cosmetic damage? Should I look for a more lenient insurance company or just get it over with and invest in a new roof?
The answer to the first question is slightly complicated, but basically it comes down to the fact that insurance companies place a lot of importance on the condition of your roof. Once your roof starts showing signs of deterioration, that’s a telltale sign to insurers that it might not take much for the entire thing to collapse or blow off in the event of snow or ice accumulation or a bad storm.
As for the second question, that depends on the condition of your roof and what you’re able to afford, but generally there are companies that will insure homes with bad roofs. If you feel your roof is in good enough shape and you can get coverage elsewhere, then consider shopping around and comparing coverage and rates with several insurers.
If your homeowners insurance was canceled because of your roof, you can likely find coverage elsewhere
Although there are insurance options for homes with bad roofs, coverage is generally lower quality and more expensive
Replacing your roof can land you lower insurance rates and provide better protection against the unexpected
It really depends on just how poor the condition of your roof is, but if your roof is simply old or has a few rough patches you might be able to get homeowners insurance, even if you’ve been denied coverage by a home insurance company already. There are some insurance companies that have “flexible” underwriting and specialize in insuring homes with bad roofs or risks that standard insurers won’t touch.
Bear in mind that these types of companies typically charge far higher insurance premiums than standard insurers and the coverage you’re getting also might be subpar. It’s possible that your roof might only be covered at its actual cash value. That means if your roof is 20 years old and it needs to be replaced due to windstorm damage, you’ll only be reimbursed for its value after 20 years of depreciation has been deducted from its replacement value.
But if you’re in need of temporary coverage to tide you over while you save up for a new roof, or you’re planning on selling the property and don’t want to put any more money into it, getting coverage through a high-risk carrier is a suitable option.
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Insurance companies will consider the condition of different parts of your home, including your roof, when determining whether your home is eligible for coverage or what your insurance rates will be. Many insurers will perform an inspection of your house shortly after you’re approved for coverage. Inspections are also common around the time your policy is up for renewal. Insurers generally have the following requirements which will be verified upon inspection.
If your home has a newer roof, you’ll likely land lower rates — and maybe even a new roof discount — whereas older roofs are seen as a red flag. If your roof’s age is around 20 years or more, you may have a difficult time getting coverage with certain carriers. There’s also a possibility you’ll get a policy, but the insurer will refuse to cover the roof or will only cover it at its actual cash value.
The better condition your roof is in, the less you’ll have to pay for homeowners insurance. Insurance companies are more likely to overlook the fact that your roof is 15–20 years old if it’s in pristine condition and has no visible sign of wear and tear.
Insurance companies also consider the materials your roof is made from when setting your rates. Metal roofs are the most stable type of residential roof, so your coverage will be cheaper if you have one of those. Conversely, wood roofs are viewed as an insurance risk given the fact that they’re not fire resistant — carriers in certain high-risk areas may refuse to insure homes with wooden roofs.
The shape of your roof can also impact insurance rates. Gable roofs (upside down V shape) and hip roofs (four-sided) are the most common shapes. Gables are generally more at-risk for wind damage and cost more to insure than hip roofs. Homes with flat roofs are typically the most expensive to insure.
So you just received a notice from your homeowners insurance company that your coverage won’t be renewed unless you replace your roof. You have 60 days. Now what?
Provided that your roof isn’t literally falling apart, you’ll likely be able to shop around and find an insurer that will insure your home. Ultimately, you’ll have to weigh the cost/benefit of keeping the roof as is and paying higher rates or paying to replace the roof and paying lower rates.
Which brings us to our next point — consider the bigger picture. If you plan on owning the home for a while, you’re going to need to replace the roof at some point anyway. Additionally, your insurance company is essentially doing you a favor by identifying that you need a new roof as a condition for coverage, so it may be worth heeding their advice if you’d like to secure low rates or a policy with a different company going forward.
If you don’t get a new roof, you face having to pay significantly higher rates with a company that is willing to take on that risk. Roof replacement also lessens the chance of further damage to your home.
Pat Howard is a homeowners insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. He has written extensively about home insurance cost, coverage, and companies since 2018, and his insights have been featured on Investopedia, Lifehacker, MSN, Zola, HerMoney, and Property Casualty 360.
Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.
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