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HomeHomeowner Resources6 Steps To Getting Insurance To Pay For Your Roof Replacement
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6 Steps to Getting Insurance to Pay for Your Roof Replacement

Learn the steps to get your weather-damaged roof replaced by your homeowners insurance. Find a contractor, contact your insurance agent, and find financing to cover what insurance doesn’t.
Last updated June 14th, 2024

Finally, the storm has passed and you’re standing outside, neck craned toward your damaged roof. The storm was stressful enough — now you need to approach your insurance company and negotiate a new roof. 

What is this going to cost?

Weather is one of the most common causes of roof damage:

 

  • Hail pelts your shingles, ruining their integrity and inviting more damage in the future. 
  • Water from rain and snow instinctively finds its way through your roof, bringing mold and decay. 
  • Wind can knock a few shingles away or rip a roof clean off.

 

Whatever the weather, Architectural Digest’s 2024 Guide reports that a new roof “typically ranges from $5,700 to $12,500.” Of course, there are endless variables.  Size alone, for example, can nudge that price up to $33,000.

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Navigating insurance can be intimidating for even the most straightforward claims, but when it’s something as significant as replacing an entire roof, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why it’s vital to understand every step of the insurance claim process.

 

We talked to Jeff Tucker, an insurance agent with State Farm based in Hammond, IN for some pointers. His overarching philosophy on the customer-insurer-contractor relationship: “You can quote me on this one. Understand what you get for what you pay.”

 

“Just because there’s a heavy storm does not mean you’re getting a new roof.”

Step 1: Survey the damage

It’s probably best to do this from the ground! Look for obvious damage: gutters knocked askew or pieces of roofing that have fallen. Getting up on a roof is an iffy prospect in the best of situations, and you’re dealing with a roof that’s damaged to an unknown degree. But a quick visual assessment can tell you about how much damage you’re working with. “Nowadays,” Tucker points out, even experienced contractors “like to do that with drones because it’s a little bit safer.”

Tip Tip
Take lots of photos.

 “Was there heavy hail? Were you able to record that?” Tucker says. “I mean, people carry cell phones everywhere they go. I have people who have taken pictures of the hail in their yard, on their front steps, that kind of thing. That’s really, really helpful.” Record anything — fallen shingles, broken skylights — that can document the date and extent of the damage for insurance purposes.

 

Step 2: Look at your insurance policy

You may not have glanced at it for a while, so dust off your insurance policy and refresh your memory about what it covers. Remember, some roof damage, like normal wear and tear or lack of maintenance, is usually not covered. Earthquakes and floods generally require separate insurance policies as well.

 

As Tucker states, “If we’re being honest … insurance companies are in the business of paying what they owe, when they owe. And not one penny more.” What they owe will be determined by the claims adjuster’s report (a few steps from now).

Tip Tip
TIP: Find out if your policy covers your roof’s actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost value (RCV).

ACV means getting reimbursed for your roof’s current, calculated (“actual”) value. The payout will be smaller because it will take into account the age and depreciation of your roof. RCV reimburses for the total cost of a roof replacement, regardless of depreciation. This comes in two payments — the first in the amount of the ACV and the second after all the roof work has been completed and accounted for. But keep in mind, RCV only restores your roof to the state it was in when it was new. It won’t pay for improvements beyond that.

Steps 3 and 4: Call a roofing contractor and your insurance company

The eternal controversy! Do you call your insurance company first or a contractor first?

Tucker, perhaps not surprisingly, says you should always call your insurance agent first. And that means your agent, the actual human who handles your policy.

 

“Call me,” he says. “Don’t call that 1-800 number [on the insurance company’s website].” An in-depth conversation with your agent can help you plan your approach and avoid triggering a claim prematurely.

 

We also spoke to Logan Reuter, a Partner and Director of Operations at Roof U.S. Construction, a highly certified roofing company in Columbia, MO. Reuter has a different take.

 

“You should always reach out to a contractor first,” he tells us. The initial contractor estimate will almost always be a complimentary visit, as they want your business. “That will give you an idea of how much work is needed and how much it will cost,” you’ll use this information when you contact your insurance agent.

 

At heart, both sides want the same thing for the homeowner: solid, well-thought-out info at the right time, well before you call an insurance adjuster to make a claim.

 

Talk to both. In what order? That’s at your discretion.

Tip Tip
TIP: Take copious notes during both of these conversations!

Step 5: Schedule a claim adjustment

You’ve armed yourself with knowledge of your policy. You’ve gotten clarity from your agent and advice from your contractor. Once you request a claim, everything kicks into gear. Your insurance company will send out an adjuster to look at the damage and give you — and the insurance company — an assessment of what the insurance company owes you.

Tip Tip
TIP: If possible, schedule the contractor and the claims adjuster to survey the damage together.

Reuter and Tucker agree that it would be ideal for both parties to be present at the same time and “talk shop.” The contractor can point out damages the adjuster may not notice. After all, the insurance adjuster is not a roofer.

 

“By the same token, a roofer is not an insurance adjuster,” Reuter points out. “It’s good to have both experts out there at the same time to make sure to get a fair and accurate amount secured for the homeowner.”

Step 6: Replace your roof

How long will it take? The contractors will give you a rough timeline, but it’s subject to variables like weather, the size of the roof, and the availability of materials.

 

One important variable: the discovery of hidden damage.

 

Once work has begun, “the roofer might say, this roof is not up to the current code, or it needs additional ventilation to prevent future damage,” says Reuter. “Or if there is additional damage to the siding that wasn’t apparent at first.” These discoveries not only lengthen the repair process but also increase the expense. 

 

Can you get these unexpected issues covered by insurance? It’s time to familiarize yourself with the “insurance claim supplement.” This is a request for the insurance company to cover this additional work. 

 

But you might be wondering if these claims are difficult to get approved — or even worth your time. As Elite Claim Solutions, a firm that offers consulting services for roofers, puts it on their FAQ, “Will the insurance company get mad if I submit roofing supplements?”

 

Their answer: “In our experience, insurance companies only get mad if you waste their time, are dishonest, or are unprofessional. Having a well-crafted, well-documented roofing supplement makes their job easier.” 

 

To reiterate Jeff Tucker’s statement: “Insurance companies are in the business of paying what they owe when they owe.” There’s no guarantee of getting additional coverage, but it is within your rights to ask them to cover what you’ve been paying them to cover.

Insurance trends

Insurance is, at heart, about balancing dangers against protections. Let’s look at a couple of emerging trends — one that may make your roof harder to insure and one that may make it easier.

The climate is taking its toll in more ways than one

If your weather-damaged roof is in the state of Florida, you might run into a mounting challenge. Florida is experiencing an insurance crisis. 

 

As a peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s no stranger to severe weather. However, as climate change asserts itself, the frequency of storms has resulted in insurance premiums over three times the national average. Faced with a market with this much risk, many insurance companies have opted to leave the state or stop offering certain types of insurance.

 

Climate-related events in Texas (like tornadoes) and California (wildfires) are contributing to insurance crises in those states as well. As the effects of climate change become more real, homeowners in more and more states will have to wrestle with how to stay insured.

State-of-the-art materials are gaining traction (and lowering premiums)

Reuter mentions that class 4 hail-resistant asphalt shingles are among the damage-resistant materials that have been used more and more in recent years. “The industry is moving that direction,” he tells us. “Insurance companies are wanting their policyholders to switch over to class 4 impact-rated shingles because it is less likely hail will damage their roofs.”

 

“Many insurance companies,” he continues, “are even offering 10-15% premium discounts if you do.”

 

Fun trivia: One way the shingles earn this status is to get steel balls dropped on them from 20 feet up.

 

How can Acorn Finance help?

Even after your best efforts, your insurance may come up short when covering the full cost of a new roof. One payment solution is becoming more popular: financing your roof replacement.

 

We spoke to Mike McGinley, VP of Lender Relationships at Acorn Finance. He describes Acorn as “a marketplace of lenders that you can apply with that will give you a lot of different options.” 

 

Declare the amount of money you need to complete your job, and several participating lenders will respond with financing options. You select the one with the terms you like best.

 

McGinley says a homeowner could get pre-qualified for a loan that day and “get that money in their bank account within a day or two.”

 

He likens it to having banks come to you bearing their best offers. Once the loan offer is finalized, your roof is funded.

 

Replacing the roof over your head can be an intimidating – and expensive – process. But with a cool head and a solid plan, you can secure the money you need before the next storm.

 

It’s time to find the right lender for your home project. With just a few questions — and just a few minutes — we can connect you to the right lender today.