First off, if you think you might have damage, schedule a roof inspection as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you have damage, an inspection after a hail storm is in your best interest. Just because there aren’t any missing shingles doesn’t mean there isn’t any damage.
Another thing to keep in mind is the myth that your insurance company will cancel your policy or raise your rates if you file a claim. Insurance companies handle thousands of roof claims a year. After a storm, your neighbors are all probably calling in their claims. Rates may go up regardless. So if you don’t report your own claim, you’ll be paying for everyone else’s repairs and not yours!
It’s very important to read over your entire homeowner’s insurance policy so you’re aware of what things are covered and what things aren’t. Because roof claims can be common, your insurance may contain specific roof related policies and exclusions. An exclusion is simply a measure your insurance company takes to avoid fraudulent claims and unnecessary expenses by excluding some items from coverage.
You should examine your insurance policy for any roof-related exclusions. Some of the most common are:
Complete replacement. Roof repairs are almost always covered, but in some cases your insurance may not cover complete replacement. Most insurance companies will cover replacement when your roof encounters wind damage, hail damage or other storm damage. However, any damage resulting from improper maintenance or neglect is likely to be denied coverage.
Material restrictions. All insurance companies do not cover all roofing materials. Wood shake is probably the most likely to be denied, as it can be less durable and expensive to repair. Slate, stone and tile are also more pricey and insurance companies are therefore more reluctant to pay for them. New, untested materials (think new green roofing) frequently aren’t covered because insurance companies simply aren’t used to them or don’t know what to expect down the line with them.
Roof age. Older roofs are less likely to be covered by insurance. If you’re buying a new home, make sure you check out the roof before you apply for your insurance. Insurance companies don’t want to insure old roofs as they are more likely to need replacement soon. Make sure there aren’t multiple layers of shingles, either. While this is a cost effective roofing method, your insurance company might consider the bottom layer to be the real “age” of the roof. If the roof has more than two layers of shingles it probably will be denied coverage as well.
If there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s read your insurance policy. Many homeowners need roof replacement at some point, so it’s wise to be aware of your roof insurance coverage.