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  • Writer's pictureMike Roberts

Navigating Insurance When Dealing With Roof Damage

When your home’s roof is damaged, one of your first calls will likely be to your insurance company. But the best time to get acquainted with the ins and outs of your policy is before disaster strikes. Here’s what you need to know.

Read your policy about roof damage

Most homeowners insurance policies cover roof damage that is considered sudden and accidental. Regarding roofs, that means coverage for fire, wind storms, and hail. Insurance will not cover damage related to the age of the roof or neglected maintenance. Homeowners’ insurance will not cover damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Separate policies are sold for those types of perils.

The deductible is the amount of the repair cost that you, as the homeowner, are responsible for paying out of pocket. The deductible is figured out one of two ways. The first is a flat amount, such as $500 or $1,000. You choose the deductible when you purchase your policy.

Another type of deductible is figured by the percentage of the insured value of the home. A 1 percent deductible amount is common. For example, if your home’s insured value is $300,000, your deductible would be $3,000. The percentage deductible is more common in areas prone to storm-related damage.

There are two ways homeowners insurance calculates paying for a roof damage claim. The “actual cash value” method pays what your damaged roof is currently worth, depreciated for age. Your roof may have been worth $20,000 when it was new but has depreciated over the years to $12,000. That is the value you’ll be paid even though the cost to replace it might be $28,000 in today’s dollars. You’ll owe that large difference.

The other method is “replacement value,” which pays what it will cost to fix or replace your roof at today’s material and labor costs. Using the previous example, replacement value insurance will pay the $28,000 minus your deductible.

When disaster strikes

A windstorm struck your neighborhood, and a large section of your roof was ripped away. What do you do?

  • Take pictures to document the roof damage in the immediate aftermath.

  • If you can safely do so, place a tarp over the damaged area to prevent further rainwater damage.

  • Call your insurance company and file a claim.

  • Get quotes from reliable roofing contractors. Choose one that has been in business locally for many years and gets good ratings with the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and other review sites. Also, check for complaints filed with your state’s attorney general.

  • Avoid out-of-town roofers and those who advertise with signs that pop up around storm-damaged areas. These are “storm chasers” who prey on vulnerable homeowners.

  • Submit your roofer’s damage estimate to the insurance company for approval. Do not agree to start any work until you have confirmation in writing from the insurance company that the job has been approved.

  • If the roofer asks for money down, do not pay more than one-third of the total cost.

  • Deposit the check from your insurance company into your account and pay the roofer accordingly. Never endorse the insurance check over to the roofer.

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