If your roof has suffered damage, you might be wondering if you are covered by your homeowners insurance. The good news is that homeowners insurance will usually have provisions for roof damage. The only catch is that it depends on the type of damage. These types of claims can get very complex, and one small detail may make you ineligible.
Let’s take a closer look at what types of damage you can expect to have covered and a few tips in case you have to make a claim.
Table of Contents:
1. Call your insurance company first.
The simplest way to know if your damage is covered is to call the insurance company and ask them directly.
If you want to be extra prepared, you may find it helpful to learn what types of damage are typically covered before you contact your agent. You may also want to check out a few tips for submitting an insurance claim for your damaged roof in case the type of damage you have suffered is covered. This preparation will allow you to get the process underway as soon as possible.
Let’s take a look at what type of damage is usually covered and what isn’t.
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2. What’s covered by homeowners insurance?
In short, all damage that is caused by a sudden incident that is out of your control should be covered by your insurance policy. Dwelling coverage typically protects the home against certain causes of damage; wind, fire and hail damage, for example, are usually covered. If a tree falls on the roof during a rainstorm, this should be covered as well. Additional roofed units on your property could also be covered if you have “other structures” protection.
Know, however, that you will still have to pay a deductible before you get your roof repaired or a new roof installed. You’ll need to take your coverage limit into consideration as well, since you won’t be reimbursed for expenses above the limit.
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3. What’s not covered by homeowner insurance?
In some cases, homeowners insurance will cover things like leaks, but only if the leak results from a type of peril that is covered. If the roof is leaking after a fire or a heavy hailstorm, for instance, you should be covered. But you will not be covered if it can be shown that you did not perform proper maintenance.
You should also know that some insurers will have restrictions on the types of roofs they cover. Some will not cover a roof past a certain age, no matter the cause of damage. In most cases, your roof should be covered in full if it is 10 years old or younger when you make the claim. If it’s over 10 years old, though, many policies will only cover its depreciated value. That’s something you’ll need to be ready for.
Another thing that will usually not be covered by homeowners insurance is if the damage is the result of shoddy work. Doing DIY work on your roof, too, could end up invalidating both your policy and your roof warranty.
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4. Set your coverages.
Most homeowners insurance policies come with standard coverages, but that isn’t always the case. For example, in some areas of the country, a roof may be damaged as the result of high winds or violent storms.
In other areas floods are common, and in yet other areas fires may be something to be concerned with. Sometimes the maximum amount of coverage is standard to a policy, but some insurance companies let you raise or lower the maximum dollar amounts.
Most often, however, you can set the upper limits of coverage based on the appraised value of the roof. The key phrase to understand here is “appraised value.”
The most an insurer will pay for roof damage is the amount of the valuation set by an appraiser. It could be an appraiser sent by the insurer, or it could be an appraiser you’ve hired to assess or value your home and any structural elements therein (including as the roof coverage you are now concerned with).
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5. Set your deductible.
One thing you may also wish to consider before purchasing homeowners insurance is the level of deductible you set. The deductible is the amount you are required to pay that is not covered by the insurer.
Many times, homeowners try to lower their premiums by setting higher deductibles. Keeping a high deductible might seem like a cost-effective way to get homeowners insurance; however, if a major event should suddenly take off your entire roof, that $500 or $1,000 deductible may be more than you can comfortably manage.
If given the option to set your deductible, it is prudent to be realistic in terms of what you might be expected to initially pay out of pocket. Bear in mind that a major catastrophe will also bring with it other costs, which may not be covered by insurance, and those can add up quickly. Don’t add a high deductible into the mix if you can avoid it.
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6. Be ready to provide documentation as required.
If you have sustained extensive damage to your roof, the cost of repair or replacement could be quite high. After filing a claim with your insurance company, you can expect an insurance adjuster to visit within a matter of days.
It pays to keep every bit of documentation on hand in case it should be required. The amount paid on your claim will almost always rely on your ability to prove that the claim is valid.
The claims adjuster who is sent out has seen it all. Always be honest in terms of how the damage came about and explain any out-of-pocket expenses you may have been forced to pay in an emergency situation. Be aware of the fact that any false or questionable information can hold up your claim for an indefinite length of time while the matter is being sorted out.
Now that you know a bit more about what should and shouldn’t be covered by your insurance, you can start the claims process if you feel you might be eligible. Act swiftly and be truthful if you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. This is especially important if the claim you are filing is the result of a natural disaster in your area; with a multitude of claims being filed with your insurer, the faster you act, the quicker you can receive your payment.