As a homeowner, you may wonder how to prepare for El Niño and its unpredictable weather patterns. One way you can stay ahead of the curve is by inspecting and updating your roof, your home’s primary protection against the elements. Given its importance, it shouldn't be surprising that your roof’s type and condition can significantly affect your home insurance premiums and coverage. In this blog, we'll explore how and why your roof influences your insurance.
The Role of the Roof in Home Insurance
Does homeowners insurance cover a roof replacement? Most policies under the dwelling coverage section will pay to repair or replace your roof if the damage results from a covered loss, such as fire, hail, heavy winds, or another peril. However, your homeowners insurance provider may closely examine your roof’s condition before offering or continuing home insurance coverage.
When determining your insurance coverage and costs, providers often consider four factors: your roof’s age, materials, condition, and shape.
Types of Roofing Materials
Some roofing materials withstand environmental impact better than others, so whatever makes up your roof could affect your insurance rates. Here are some of the most common types of roofing materials:
- Slate: This material is low maintenance and resistant to fire, heavy winds, rot, and insects. However, it’s heavy, vulnerable to hail, and expensive to replace, which could increase your insurance premiums.
- Metal: This durable reflects sunlight and is resistant to fire, rot, and insects. However, it’s susceptible to hail and can be costly to install.
- Asphalt: This material is affordable and can be installed on an existing roof, but it’s vulnerable to rot, decay, and removal.
- Tile: Tile roofing — both clay and concrete — is extremely long-lasting and low-maintenance. However, installing and replacing is expensive, which may increase your insurance rates.
- Wood: If you live in an old house, your roof might be wood. While wood is wind-resistant and energy-efficient, it's the least fire-resistant material, so your provider may charge you a higher premium or refuse to insure your roof at all.
Each material has pros and cons, so you should talk with your insurance agent for guidance on balancing protection and insurance savings.
You may ask yourself, “Will a new roof lower my homeowners insurance?” Generally, your homeowners insurance might cost less if you build a newer roof from durable materials — e.g., slate or metal — since it offers better protection against extreme weather, leaks, mold, and pest problems.
On the other hand, if your roof is over 20 years old, you may receive limited to no coverage since many insurers consider an old roof a liability. Some insurers may only provide the actual cash value of the roof, so you would have to pay the remaining out of pocket.
As mentioned earlier, homeowners insurance usually covers repairing or replacing your roof caused by a covered loss — e.g., fire, heavy winds, hail. However, most homeowners policies won’t repair or replace your roof if it’s deteriorating due to wear and tear or neglected maintenance.
Your roof’s shape can also influence your homeowners insurance rate because different designs affect their susceptibility to damage. Here are the most common types of roof shapes:
- Gable: These roofs resemble an upside-down V. While these roofs are affordable and effective at shedding moisture, they’re prone to wind damage, so they may result in a higher insurance rate.
- Hip-style: These roofs usually have four sides and cost more to build. However, they provide great wind resistance, which may help lower your insurance premium.
- Flat: Flat roofs aren’t as common because water can accumulate on the flat surface and cause damage. They also have a much shorter lifespan than gable or hip-style roofs.
Tips for Roof Maintenance
Roof maintenance is one of the best home improvements to lower insurance, especially as it ages each year. Remember, insurers usually won’t cover roof damage caused by wear and tear or negligence, so keeping it in good condition can help minimize out-of-pocket costs. Here are some tips to consider when thinking about roof maintenance.
- Get a roof inspection: Getting a roof inspection every few years can help catch issues early before they turn into bigger, more expensive problems.
- Clear away debris: Remove any objects that land on your roof because they may cause it to deteriorate.
- Replace worn shingles: Damaged shingles are more prone to water damage and leaking.
- Document your roof’s status: When filing a claim, having before and after pictures can help accurately depict the severity of roof damage.
- Contact your insurer when renovating: You may receive discounted homeowners insurance when upgrading your roof.
Your roof is pivotal in determining your homeowners insurance coverage and premiums. Keeping it in top condition and choosing durable materials can save you money in the long run and protect your home, especially during El Niño. You might wonder, “How much will a new roof lower my homeowners insurance?” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so if you want a better idea, talk with your local agent at Mercury Insurance. They can help determine what you can do with your roof to help you save money and protect your home.