I’ve had several conversations with clients and home buyers about roofs and home insurance since the March 26th hail storm which struck north Texas. Hail, ranging in size from golf ball to softball, fell on Justin eastward to McKinney. Thousands of roofs were damaged or destroyed by the hail resulting in the roofing industry spinning into high gear. Let’s examine some of the questions I’ve addressed in the past week pertaining to replacing roofs and its impact on home insurance.
Should it be replaced: The farther east the storm went, the more unsure people became about whether their roof should be replaced. In these cases, I always recommend having two local roofers examine it for hail damage and whether the extent of the hail damage is enough to warrant a claim. The honest ones will tell you the truth.
Shingle life rating: One of my clients, whose roof needs to be replaced, wanted to determine if it makes sense to replace the composition shingles with 50 year instead of 25 year shingles. I’m not aware of any carriers offering a home insurance discount based on a longer shingle life such as installing a 25 year shingle over a 15 year, or a 50 year shingle over one with a shorter lifespan.
A couple of things to keep in mind if you’re replacing your roof include:
- Home insurance companies with a replacement cost policy will only pay to replace shingles with “like” shingles. In other words, if you have 20 year shingles, then the insurance company will pay for a 20 year roof.
- If you elect to go with a better grade of shingle, you’ll pay out of pocket for the difference in cost.
- The longer a shingle’s “life span,” the more expensive the roof.
- Most shingles wear out before their projected life span due to our weather and summer temperatures.
Hail resistant shingles: One of my clients is considering whether to upgrade to a hail resistant shingle. There are typically 4 classes of hail resistant shingles. Most home insurance carriers offer discounts for a class 1 to 4 roof with the highest discount being offered on a class 4 shingle. The discount varies by carrier and ranged from $175 to $300 a year. Based on that savings, it will take several years of hail free weather to cash flow the difference. Even then, softball size hail will damage a class 4 roof.
Complicating the decision process is the shift by many home insurance companies to caring more about the age of the roof than the material it’s made of. This has led me to not recommend a hail resistant roof but lean toward one with a projected life span of 20 to 25 years.
Overlay or replace: To reduce the cost replacing a roof, some people may elect to place new shingles over the existing ones. I don’t recommend anyone do this. Many home insurance companies will not write a policy on an overlay roof for three reasons:
- The added weight may weaken the underlying framing.
- A second layer increases the cost of the next claim due to the added cost of removing two layers of shingles and the increase in fees to dispose of both layers.
- Overlay roofs are less hail resistant than a single layer roof.
Home buyers: I’ve talked with one person buying a home in Little Elm. I recommended they get the roof inspected by two local roofing companies to determine if it suffered enough damage to be replaced. It’s better to confirm that now than when a leak develops after the fact as it will be a claim on the prior company, not yours.
New roof discount: Most home insurance companies offer a discount for new and newer roofs. If you do replace your roof, confirm with your agent the policy is updated to reflect the new roof. You’ll be glad you did!
What do you think? Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!