When the wind starts howling and the hail starts falling, your thoughts likely turn to your roof and how well it will weather the storm.
Storm damage can call for a roof replacement, which in North Carolina can average $5,000 for a smaller one-story house.
It’s natural to hope and expect your homeowners insurance is going to pay for the new roof, but that might not be the case. Much depends on your specific policy and how well you document your claim.
This guide will walk you through what you need to know about your coverage and how to go about filing an insurance claim for your damaged roof.
Know Your Coverage
Homeowners insurance covers your house structure, but that doesn’t mean that any type of roof damage is covered for a replacement.
The coverage specifics depend on your policy’s terms and what caused the damage. Normally accidents and weather events fall under covered events. That said, you still need to have decided to have roof replacement insurance as part of your coverage.
Your policy might only cover repairs or have a higher deductible for certain types of damage. Knowing exactly what coverage you have is the first step toward filing a claim for repair or replacement.
Repair vs. Replacement
It is not common for repairs to be fully covered, and if they are, you usually are only reimbursed a percentage of the repair cost. To qualify for coverage, your roof needs to be in good condition, brand new, or the cause of damage is included in your policy.
Whether you qualify for a roof replacement depends on the type and amount of damage. You have to be able to prove a new roof is needed and the damage cannot be fixed by repair alone.
Generally, insurance coverage that would result in a new roof is going to be more expensive. You’ll also find it harder to get a claim accepted for replacement than repair.
There are times when the cost of a new roof might be less than repairing every damaged area, so a replacement might be called for even if repair is possible.
One such case is when there is partial roof damage, but the lifespan of the roof as a whole shortens because of that damage. In that case, insurance might pay to replace the entire roof to avoid problems down the road from roof failure. Hail damage is a good example where a large number of strikes substantially impacts the lifespan of the roof.
Another case is when there are matching issues. If the materials for a repair are unavailable, replacing the entire roof might be called for. An example here might be if you have a slate roof and the shingles are no longer sold by the company.
When you bought your policy, you might have made some choices that now keep you from qualifying to have a roof replacement paid for. Insurance companies have faced a slew of roof claims in recent years, which led to different levels for roof insurance.
Your coverage often depends on the specific policy you choose, your location, and the cause of the damage. For example, in most places, hail is an unusual and unpreventable event. However, North Carolina ranks as one of the top 10 states for hail loss claims, making it less rare here.
This is where your deductible comes into play. This is the amount you pay for repairs before insurance starts to chip in.
To save on premiums, you can opt to exclude wind and hail damage from your policy altogether. Or you might choose to have a special and higher deductible for wind, hail, and hurricanes. You could also choose a different coverage limit that will cap the amount the insurance company pays for your roof.
What isn’t covered at all is damage caused by a lack of maintenance, normal wear and tear, or age. Not keeping up with roof maintenance can also cause you to not get full reimbursement after a storm damages the roof. Damage caused by you or an inexperienced roofer is also not covered.
Document the Damage
Pictures make a compelling case, so take as many as you can. This includes before damage happens to provide a comparison point to prove damage later. Timestamps on pictures are good, especially if the date ties to a specific weather event.
A roofer can help by documenting the damage in an independent report. This would help establish that the materials in undamaged parts of the roof were installed correctly and not defective. Expect to pay to have an inspection and report as opposed to just getting a quote.
Get a Good Contractor
Your insurance company might be able to recommend a contractor to you, which does have the benefit of connecting you with someone who has worked with insurance claims before. Most of the time you can use your choice of company.
Whomever you choose, they should be on hand as soon as possible to do whatever necessary to prevent further damage. Secondary damage usually isn’t covered by your policy, so you don’t want rain coming in a hole in the roof to cause additional problems.
Anytime there is a storm that comes through, the roofing scammers come out in force. There will be a lot of people knocking on your door claiming they can get your roof fixed or that they see damage that might not exist. Be wary of anyone that asks for a big payment upfront or doesn’t have the required licensing.
File Your Claim
Failure to make a timely claim can be a reason for denial, so you should do so as soon as you can get the necessary information together. When there is a high volume of claims – like after a big storm – the earlier you file, the sooner your claim can be processed.
You should keep a log of all correspondence with your insurance company, along with documents for estimates, invoices, and bills.
At this point, you’re looking to meet all the requirements so you can officially hire your roofing contractor. This can be a back and forth process to ensure your claim is covered. At that point, you can get the roof fixed and paid for by the insurance company.
Think You Need a Roof Replacement?
Hail storms and high winds do a number on roofs in our area. Anytime you experience damage, it’s a good time to look at whether roof replacement is the right option or if repair is possible. Either way, make sure to look at what and how much might be covered by your homeowners insurance.
A claim for a new roof starts by having the right kind of policy. Contact us if you want to review your current coverage or make changes before the next big storm hits.