When a person buys a home, chances are pretty good they are not thinking about “age of roof” and “insurance” beyond a vague awareness of the outcome of a roof inspection that was part of the general home inspection and the overall cost of homeowners insurance.
Overlooking how a roof’s condition affects a homeowner’s insurance can mean higher insurance premiums because insurance companies assume the older the roof, the more likely it will be involved in an insurance claim.
Understanding the logic an insurance company uses to factor in a roof’s age into an insurance policy can help you save money on your insurance rates.
Here are the basics.
It’s All a Gamble
The home’s roofing system, or more specifically, the roof’s age, plays a significant role in how insurance companies assess the likelihood that homeowners will file a claim during the expected lifespan of a home insurance policy.
An insurance company does this because a homeowner’s insurance policy is a gamble for the insurance carrier. Specifically, the insurance carrier is betting that your insurance rates will cover the cost of repairing roof damage or an emergency roof replacement, plus make the insurance company money.
The Insurance Company Risk Assessment
Factored into the cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy are risks the insurance company assumes about the house. Figuring out risks is why a roof inspection is so critical.
A homeowner’s insurance rates will be much higher if the roof fails inspection. The cost of the policy may make a full roof replacement a better investment for the homeowner than covering a sky-high insurance premium every month.
Even if it passes inspection, the entire roof gets assessed, and specific risks are assumed. If the risks are significant, insurance companies will provide coverage at a much higher cost than newer roofs.
The Age of Roof and Insurance
One of those risks that insurance companies consider is roof age. An older roof does not necessarily have to be a liability, particularly if the roof maintenance was kept up. Still, in most cases, insurance companies tend to assume older roofs pose a greater risk that an insurance claim will be filed for repair or roof replacement.
For example, the roofing material used when the roof was installed might not be as good as roofing materials now. Today’s asphalt shingles, for example, are more durable, so worn shingles are less risky. Additionally, an old roof can also pose more of a fire hazard if standard shingles were used because of improvements in fire retardant materials.
The general assumption is that as a home’s roof ages and the wear and tear adds up, the more likely the roof is to experience roof damage that prompts the homeowners to file a claim. The insurance company wants to mitigate those risks as much as possible, or they will increase premiums to cover the risk.
No matter what type of roof you have, anything under ten years old is considered young, and it is assumed that barring manmade or natural disasters, homeowners will have few if any problems with the roof.
After that, the following are the life expectancy of the most commonly found roofs:
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material used in the USA. Shingle roofs last for about 20 years but often last longer, even though many insurers will still consider them “old” regardless of their condition.
Metal roofing is very popular because it is extremely durable (it can even prevent hail damage) and, with necessary precautions, can outlive most of its owners. A metal roof lasts up to 75 years if properly maintained. Baring a natural disaster, roof-related claims with metal roofs are rare, which the insurance industry loves.
Concrete tile roofs have a lifespan of around 50 years. Because of their lifespan, they tend to be more expensive. Concrete tiles are incredibly durable, however, so with maintenance, you rarely have to worry about a damaged roof.
Clay and Slate Tile
By far, clay and slate tiles, if properly maintained, although very expensive, are the most durable roofing material of standard roofing materials. Each last over 50 years, and it is not unheard of that either will last well past 100 years. The only real issue outside of a natural incident is that both can potentially deteriorate if neglected.
The Roof Inspection and Condition of the Roof
It generally goes without saying, but home insurance will be expensive if your roof is an accident waiting to happen. Even an old roof will be more affordable if it is in great shape. With virtually no risk of needing repairs, insurance companies aren’t as worried about these roofs.
Additionally, if your roof has issues, the insurance company will assume you will be filing more claims than average, which means they may have to shoulder the replacement cost for a new roof, plus be on the lookout for fraudulent claims. The roof’s age is important, but its condition is no less important.
If insurers refuse to cover a roof or homeowners insurance is sky-high, and there are no other mitigating factors, you can bet the insurer is thinking you will be filing more claims than the average homeowner.
The last major factor concerning roofs and homeowners insurance is your location. If you live in an area with a lot of bad weather, the age of your roof might be a factor because of its materials.
There have been incredible advancements in roofing material and its wind resistance and durability over the last 50 years and those affect insurance rates significantly.
The smartest thing you can do to reduce the roofing cost of your insurance is to look at other insurers first, but if they cost about the same, consider contacting a qualified roofer to make repairs. You might even consider a replacement given the return on investment you get now with new roofs.
Your home insurance depends on how often an insurer thinks you will be in the claims process. That assessment is a consideration of the age and shape of your roof and your location. You can expect lower insurance costs if you ensure your roof is always in excellent condition.