Let’s face it, having to replace a roof, especially if it’s due to surprise damage beyond your power, is something of a nightmare you dread as a homeowner. It’s a lengthy process, requiring what’s there to be torn down and a new roof be installed – usually including insulation and other foundational layers as well. It’s disruptive to your day to day life, and it’s very, very costly.
Well, that’s why you have homeowner’s insurance, isn’t it? To protect you from those unpredictable disasters utterly beyond your control? A peace of mind should the worst befall you? Sadly, most are familiar with the veritable act of congress it tends to require, to get an insurance company to really pay for anything, let alone something as costly and serious as a roof.
It’s a real catch 22 that most homeowners will at some point have to contend with. In all honesty, insurance providers shouldn’t be allowed to make it as difficult as they do, especially considering the premiums they tend to charge. But it is what it is, so let’s look at the various factors, steps and precautions that any homeowner should take before and during a roof crisis, to ensure that their insurance provider actually does what they’re paid to do – pay for the roof.
Be Prepared for Scrutiny
Regardless of what type of roof you have, what contractor you wish to go through, or what the cause of damage was, you can count on your company scrutinizing your claim like a scientist pouring over a microscope.
They most likely will require all manner of additional data and documentation, including before/after pictures of the roof, documentation showing when the roof was installed and last repaired, and the most recent inspection it was subjected to. Of course, most policy holders don’t think to keep this information handy, or to take frequent pictures of their roof – insurance companies are counting on this lack of foresight.
Keep your documentation somewhere you can find it, and take a picture of your roof every 3 months if possible, labeling it with a date. If possible, use an old photography method like polaroid instant cameras, which can eliminate any and all questions of “photoshopping”.
Also, request, ahead of time, any and all documentation your insurance company can give you, on such a claim, so you know, before you need to, what additional conditions and documentation they need.
Do frequent reviews of your coverage. Technically, coverage isn’t supposed to change unless you take an action to do so, and if it does, you’re supposed to be notified. Still, sometimes less ethical companies have ways of tweaking things to their favor. Every billing cycle, review your coverage, and be sure that you have, in no uncertain terms, coverage for your roof – most homeowner policies are supposed to cover a roof that is 10 years or less in age.
Roofs Over 10 and Depreciation
For roofs over the age of 10 years, things become less cut and dry even with the more reputable insurance companies. At this point, they depreciate in value. An inspector (which is always dispatched when a claim is made) will determine the degree of depreciation, and this varies from company to company, area to area.
Long story short, expect to only be reimbursed for a certain amount of the roof’s original value if it’s over 10 years old.
A further word of warning about depreciation – be wary of some policies which apply depreciation even on roofs under 10 years old. Avoid buying into such a policy, if it’s not too late.
Insurance companies are known to require roofing materials to meet specific local or national building codes, some of which can be somewhat obscure and not the end-all standards enforced across the board.
Reviewing your policy’s specifics, and talking to a roofing contractor about this to get the skinny on what these standards may be, is a good idea, before a crisis happens.
These specifications can apply to both the materials that were damaged, and the materials that will be replacing them – both, or just one or the other. It can be a bit of a mess in that regard.
A yearly inspection of your roof is always a good idea. If repairs need to be made (which if just natural wear and tear, is seldom covered by your policy by the way), make sure they’re affected right away, to the highest standard.
Having documentation and proof of frequent inspections and maintenance will strengthen your case, especially if you’re fighting depreciation after the 10-year mark.
Knowledge is Power
Talk to roofing contractors, talk to others in your area whom use your insurance provider, and find out what they’ve had to go through, to see this handled the proper way. Be ready, with every piece of information, before something goes wrong in the first place!
To learn more about homeowner’s insurance and how it works with roofing concerns, fill out our contact form or call us today. At JDT, nothing surprises us, and we can help you stay inspected and ready!