Dodging the Pitfalls of Roof Insurance

Homeowners PolicyHome owners insurance is a great thing. Owning a home is expensive enough, but when you have to come up with thousands of dollars for an unexpected repair job, it’s nice to have the protection of insurance. Insurance can save you hundreds of dollars in costly repairs and even replace the roof in the event of major disaster.

However, if you haven’t looked closely at your roof insurance, you might be surprised to find out what isn’t covered. The best way to protect yourself from unexpected costs is to get to know your homeowners insurance in detail.


Insurance companies protect themselves from fraudulent claims and unnecessary expenses by excluding certain items and repairs from coverage.  Your car insurance isn’t going to cover you if you take a sledge hammer to your vehicle in an attempt to get some insurance money. The same is true for homeowners insurance.

Many homeowners are unaware of exclusions within their insurance policies. The problem comes when repairs or replacement costs are filed with the insurance company and these costs are denied coverage by the company. In such cases, the homeowner may have already  had the work completed and are left with the outstanding bill.

Some Common Roof Insurance Exclusions

It is always a good idea to read your insurance policy closely and find out if the following conditions affect you:

Complete Replacement

Typically, roof repairs are covered. If a wind storm comes through and blows off some of your shingles, you can get those shingles replaced and insurance will cover the cost. Minor damage as the result of unavoidable events are usually covered by the insurance. What is not covered is any damage that is the result of improper maintenance or damage that could have been avoided had you been more mindful of the roof condition.

In some cases, insurance does not cover complete roof replacement. Imagine getting to the point where your roof needs replacing and finding out too late that you’ll have to cover the cost yourself. Or worse, you already had the roof replaced and your insurance company denies the claim, leaving you responsible with the bill.


Some insurance companies won’t cover certain roofing materials. You might want to read your insurance policy before re-roofing your home in historic cedar shakes or durable slate. Many companies simply won’t cover these materials or will only pay for specific materials they have outlined in the policy.

The reasoning behind this is simple. It just costs too much for repairs on certain types of materials. For example, the newest roof materials are leaning towards recycled or “green” roofing materials. Although these new materials are great for the environment, and often last longer than traditional materials, not all insurance companies cover them.

Insurance companies have been paying out millions of dollars a year for roof repair and they like to work with materials they know. Before you hire a contractor to replace your roof, be sure to contact your insurance provider to review which materials they will cover.

Older Roofs

If you’re buying a house, it might not surprise you that an insurance company won’t cover the roof if it’s 10-20 years old and nearing the time for replacement. Insuring a roof like that is like a health insurance policy taking on customers with pre-existing conditions. It’s extremely risky and the insurance company usually comes out on the short end of the deal.

What might surprise you is the actual age of the home’s roof.

Most people are familiar with the practice of saving money by simply singling over existing shingles, bu this creates two problems. (1) Many insurance companies will not insure a roof that has more than 2 layers of old roofing materials and (2)  An insurance company will probably consider the bottom layer of shingles to be the actual age of the roof.

So, if your buying a house with layers of shingles, the roof may look good at first glance, but cost you a bundle when you find out it isn’t insured. Always check with your insurance provider before buying a house with an old roof or one that has multiple layers of roof materials.

Read Your Policy

The key here is to read your policy. Make sure you know what your roof insurance will cover and what it won’t cover. Then you can make the appropriate adjustments.