The roof of your building shelters it from hail storms holds strong through windstorms and bears the weight of falling, and that’s just scratching the surface of the wear and tear it will experience over the years. The age, type of material, and condition of your roof are all considered when determining the coverages that should apply to your roof.
As an insured, it’s helpful to understand these coverages and how they are determined, so you can feel informed. With new technology, it’s easier to pinpoint roofs that may require more repair or need replacing but technology can also reward those who invest in their roofs.
What do insurers look at regarding the property’s roof?
When submitting a quote, you will typically be asked about the material of the roof, its age, maintenance schedule, and shape of the roof. These are primary factors for insurance companies to estimate the roof's durability, risk, and likelihood of damage.
Material - certain roof materials may have advantages in terms of their resistance to wind and hail, snow, or other natural elements, which could reduce the risk of damage and, consequently, impact insurance rates. Metal and slate roofs are generally more durable than for example wooden roofs or asphalt shingles.
Condition - Insurance carriers will always look at the overall condition of the roof, regardless of material, age, and shape. Perhaps needless to say, insurers want to see that the roof is well maintained and in an overall good condition. With new technology, this can now be done relatively quickly by tech-forward carriers, but manual inspections may still be necessary in some cases.
Age - Newer roofs are generally speaking more likely to get a better premium rate. A 20-year-old shingle roof could be difficult to insure or significantly increase the premium rates. An older roof made from a more durable material such as metal or slate where the overall condition is good might not be as affected when determining the premium rate. In any case, it’s crucial for the insurance carrier to know exactly when the roof was last fully replaced.
Shape - While not a major criterion, certain roof shapes may have advantages in terms of their resistance to wind, snow, or other natural elements. This could potentially reduce the risk of damage and, consequently, impact insurance rates.
In addition to the above factors, location also plays a crucial part. If the property is located in an area that’s prone to weather hazards, having a robust roof is more crucial than if you live in an area that rarely experiences harsh weather.
Why roofs are so important for property insurance
According to The Insurance Information Institute (III), wind and hail damages are the most common sources of property damage claims, making up 34% of causes of loss from 2016-2020. With roofs being one of the most vulnerable parts of the property to windstorms, roof repairs and replacements naturally make up a big part of these claims.
Some insurers might have a separate deductible that pertains only to the roof, but most commonly each covered peril, such as wind and hail, fire and lighting etc will come with a set deductible. If your roof sustains damage due to wind and hail and needs to be repaired or fully replaced, make sure the deductible doesn’t surpass the cost of the repair before submitting a claim.
Maintain your roof in a good condition
Though it may not necessarily be a requirement by the insurer, conducting regular inspections and having a maintenance schedule in place can help you spot problems early on and avoid costly repairs. According to The National Roofing Contractors Association, roofs should be inspected twice a year, preferably in the fall and spring.
While major roof repairs and inspections should be handled by professionals, you can conduct more regular roof examinations on your own if it’s deemed safe to do so. If you conduct your own inspections, remember the following:
- Safety first: Prioritize safety by using a sturdy ladder and wearing appropriate protective gear, including a hard hat, non-slip shoes, and gloves.
- Visual glance: Begin by visually inspecting your roof from the ground. Look for any signs of damage, such as missing or damaged shingles, sagging areas, or loose flashing.
- Clear debris: Remove any debris, leaves, branches, or other materials that may have accumulated on your roof. Use a soft-bristle broom or a leaf blower to gently sweep away the debris. Be careful not to damage the shingles or other roofing materials.
- Clean the gutters: Clogged gutters can lead to water backup and damage to your roof. Clear out any leaves, twigs, or other debris from the gutters and downspouts. Make sure that water can flow freely through the gutters.
- Check for leaks: Look for signs of water damage or leaks inside your home. Check the attic for any water stains or dampness. If you notice any signs of leaks, it's best to consult a professional roofer for a thorough inspection and repair.
- Inspect flashing: Flashing is the material used to seal areas where the roof meets walls, chimneys, or skylights. Check for any loose or damaged flashing and ensure it is properly sealed. If necessary, apply roofing cement or silicone caulk to fix any issues.
- Examine shingles: Inspect the condition of your shingles. Look for curling, cracking, or missing shingles. Replace any damaged or missing shingles promptly to prevent water penetration.
- Trim tree branches: Overhanging tree branches can cause damage to your roof during strong winds or storms. Trim back any branches that are too close to your roof to prevent potential damage.
- Look for signs of moss or algae: Moss or algae growth can deteriorate your roof over time. If you notice any green patches or discoloration, consider using a moss or algae cleaner specifically designed for roofs. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and effective use.
Keep a record of your roof maintenance activities, including dates of inspections, repairs, and any professional services performed. If you end up fully replacing the roof, make sure to update your insurance carrier as soon as possible as this could possibly impact your renewal rates.