Age is but a number, right? Well, in the world of homeowners insurance policies and claims, age does matter.
As a homeowner, you know that insurance can be finicky— whether it’s for your home, car, or boat. Understanding the various policies can be difficult, and filing a claim is often stressful. That’s why we’re here to help share some knowledge about how the age of your roof and insurance go hand in hand.
- The average lifespan of different roof materials
- What damage homeowners’ insurance covers
- What can cause a claim to get denied
- How to set your claim up for success
- If you can get a new policy with an old roof
The Lifespan of Different Roof Materials
An “old roof” with one material could still be a very young roof for another. Since most homes are constructed with asphalt shingles, most verbiage is set with asphalt shingles in mind. But what about other materials like metal or tile?
Various roof materials have different lifespans:
The expected lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is 15-25 years. You’ll often see insurance stipulations around a roof that’s older than 20 years, and this typically applies to shingle roofs.
Even though asphalt shingles don’t have the longest lifespan, they’re still the most popular roofing material in the country due to their low cost and protective qualities. They’re also affordable to replace, so that’s a bonus in your insurance company’s eyes.
Asphalt isn’t ideal for extremely hot climates because it can age faster due to heat retention. Even still, your home insurance rates probably won’t increase if you have an asphalt shingle roof.
Metal roofing is a well-loved material that shouldn’t raise your insurance rates. It has an expected lifespan of 40-70 years and is a fantastic material for all sorts of climates. It handles rain, wind, snow, and hail very well, and metal is fire-resistant, making it more ideal in wildfire-prone areas than asphalt.
Clay and concrete tile roofing are more popular in the western region of the country, but homeowners across the nation take advantage of this long-lasting roof material. Concrete tiles can last 50+ years, while clay tiles can last 100 years or more! This low-maintenance material is resistant to fire, hail, heat, and wind, so your insurance company will probably like the sound of that.
One thing to consider, though, is that the cost of replacing a tile roof is quite expensive. This alone can cause your insurance rates to go up in the event of major storm damage. Plus your home has to have a strong enough foundation to hold the weight of a tile roof.
Cedar shake is a tricky material to navigate. While these wooden shingles offer a fantastic aesthetic factor to your home, they are unfortunately highly flammable and not at all recommended for wildfire-prone regions. They are also vulnerable to mold damage and have an average lifespan of 20 years.
Since this material isn’t the most protective and costs more to install than asphalt, you might see a higher insurance rate.
The good news with natural slate roofing is that it has the longest lifespan of any roofing material. It can last for hundreds of years! If your slate roof is less than, say, 75 years old, you probably won’t see higher insurance rates.
However, if the roof hasn’t been replaced for over 100 years, you’ll probably see higher insurance rates because slate is also the most expensive material on the market.
What Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover?
Whether your roof is new, old, or somewhere in between, homeowners’ insurance will only cover certain things that cause sudden and accidental damage. Insurance companies call an event that damages your property a “peril.” Most homeowners insurance policies will cover the following perils:
- Fire & lightning
- Theft & vandalism
- Falling objects
- Riots or civil unrest
- Aircraft or vehicles crashing into your property
- Heavy weight of snow or ice
- Volcanic eruption
- Other “acts of God”
You’re protected under a wide variety of perils, but not every one. While hurricane winds are covered under a standard policy, you need separate policies for flooding and earthquakes. If you live in a region that’s prone to floods or earthquakes, be sure to secure additional coverage.
What Can Cause a Claim to Get Denied?
If you’ve sustained damage to your roof from something that was no fault of your own, you should definitely try to file an insurance claim. Just keep in mind that an old roof and a lack of maintenance can cause your claim to get denied.
Older roofs are more susceptible to damage, so your insurer may have trouble believing that any damage was caused by a storm instead of regular wear and tear over many years. It’s also your responsibility as a homeowner to keep up with maintenance and roof repairs. If you neglect these responsibilities, your insurance company may find the damage to be your fault rather than an accident.
Alternatively, for roofs older than 20 years, the claim may get approved, but your insurer may only pay “actual cash value” for your older roof. This means that your insurance company won’t cover the cost of a full roof replacement but will only reimburse what your old roof was worth.
How to Set Your Claim Up for Success
If you want the best possible chance of getting an insurance claim approved, even with an older roof, follow these tips:
- Maintain your roof: Keep up with cleaning your gutters, clearing debris, scheduling professional inspections, handling any pests, and trimming trees with branches over the roof.
- Choose appropriate materials: Select a roofing material that works best for your region. For example, choosing cedar shakes in California isn’t going to win you any favors from insurance. When in doubt, opt for asphalt or metal.
- Hire an experienced contractor for installation: A poor roof installation will leave you more susceptible to roof damage and reduce your overall lifespan. Choosing a skilled local roofing contractor makes all the difference.
- Take photos frequently: Documentation is the name of the game in homeowners insurance. Be sure to have plenty of “before” pictures on hand before a storm hits so that you can prove the damage wasn’t your fault. Hold onto photos, receipts, dates, and other documents related to your roof.
- Make sure you have the appropriate coverage: The smallest stipulation on your policy could leave you hanging with no insurance coverage when you need it most. Be sure to pick a comprehensive plan, and add on any additional coverage like flood or earthquake insurance, depending on your region.
Can You Get a New Policy With an Old Roof?
Most insurance companies won’t write a new policy for homes with shingle roofs over 20 years old if they fail a professional roof inspection. You would need to get a new roof replacement in order to renew your policy.
However, 20 years isn’t the end-all-be-all. Insurance companies will also consider any warranties, the condition of the roof, and regular maintenance efforts. If you pass a professional roof inspection even with an older roof, you could be just fine.
Regular Maintenance and Inspections Are Best for Older Roofs
At the end of the day, the best way to prolong your insurance coverage and have a good shot at getting a claim approved is to schedule annual maintenance and inspections with a trusted local roofing team like WISA. If you need repairs, our skilled crew will have your roof in better condition in no time.
If you need any help filing a storm damage insurance claim or want to schedule a free inspection, contact us today!