Insuring Roofs In Florida: Inside Tips From Local Home Inspector
Insuring Roofs In Florida: Inside Tips From Local Home Inspector
Have you noticed your homeowner’s insurance has increased steadily over the past years?
Are you having trouble finding a home insurance company to insure your new home purchase?
Have you seen a significant increase in your home insurance premium this year?
The reason may be the home’s roof. All Florida home insurance carriers have started to tighten up their age requirements and restrictions for roofs—as well as other critical aspects of a home—when underwriting insurance policies. As a result, many homeowners in an older home are seeing higher premiums, canceled policies, or are having trouble finding a carrier to provide coverage.
Understanding Home Insurance and Claim Risks
Home insurance carriers provide insurance policies with financial protections for the homeowner should a (covered) disaster occur in exchange for a monthly premium. For most homeowners, home insurance is not something they can forego—if your home is financed, the lender often requires an insurance policy to be maintained through the life of the loan.
When it comes to home insurance, carriers have requirements homes must meet and may restrict policy coverage for homes that fall short of those requirements. This is because those homes are considered a high claim risk. The most common factors that can increase your home’s claim risk include the age, condition, and/or material of its:
Hot Water Heater
And, of course, the home’s roof.
Why Roofs are Important to Home Insurance Companies
Home insurance companies consider the roof of the home to be the most critical aspect of the home. Roofs provide protection to the rest of the home against the elements. A strong, newer roof is more likely to provide adequate protection than an older roof; better protection equates to fewer insurance claims.
Age of the Roof and Trouble Getting Home Insurance Coverage
Asphalt shingles, one of the most common materials used to build roofs in Florida, have a lifespan. Over time, they can deteriorate and provide inadequate protection for the rest of the home, making them a higher risk for a claim when they approach their estimated lifespan.
How Long Do Shingle Roofs Typically Last?
Asphalt shingles typically come with 20-to-30-year warranties but under the intense Florida heat, heavy rains, and intense storms (including hurricanes), the life expectancy is far sooner—15 to 20 years for high-quality architectural shingles and only 10 to 12 years for 3-tab shingles.
Insurance companies gather information about a home when considering underwriting an insurance policy and determining the policy premium. The age of the home, location, and type of roof are often common questions asked by insurance carriers. Homeowners with older homes, those approaching 8 to 10 years old, may be followed up with other questions such as whether the roof or other critical aspects of the home have been replaced or updated.
Trends We’ve Seen in the Industry
These responses to older homes and roofs are fairly common and have become increasingly more common place as home insurance carriers (the company, not your agent) makes changes to their policy underwriting requirements.
Homes with an aging roof (10 or more years old) may be denied coverage or find their premium to be much larger than expected.
Some carriers may underwrite the policy so that they only pay the actual cash value for the roof if it becomes damaged and need replacement. Actual cash value is what the cost of the old roof is worth, not the replacement cost is. So, if materials or labor costs have increased since your roof was installed, this could be significantly less than your expected repair costs.
Other carriers may refuse to renew a current homeowner’s policy or issue a new policy to a homebuyer without stipulations in place—such as a Roof Certification or in its absence, a new roof.
A Roof Certification is issued following a roof inspection—if the home’s roof meets certain requirements. Roof inspections are a simple structural inspection that determines the age of the roof, documents the condition and integrity of the roofing system, and provides a general estimate of how long the roof is likely to last, with a recommendation of when it should be replaced.
Before issuing a Roof Certification, an AcuSystem Home Inspector will analyze the interior aspects of the roofing system, accessing your attic space to review the insulation, joints, attachments, and to look for visible signs of leaks. An exterior examination is also conducted to visually inspect the surface of the roof, its materials, and documenting the condition of the roof.
Will a Roof Certification Help Lower My Insurance?
If the roof is in good condition and expected to last for another three or more years, a certification is provided. If any concerns are found, such as leaks or a life expectancy of less than three years, then an action plan is provided.
Carriers who stipulate an inspection is needed before issuing an insurance policy will want a copy of this Roof Certification.
A roof inspection is just one of the ways we can help you show your home’s roof has a good life expectancy—but there are others! We want our clients to understand their home and the critical aspects of it, including whether your home’s roof is sound for years to come or if a replacement may be necessary.
Wind Mitigation Inspection
A Wind Mitigation Inspection, another type of insurance inspection that will verify the age, condition, and life expectancy of your roof (as well as other areas of your home). Many Florida homeowners or homebuyers are granted a discounted premium if the Wind Mitigation Inspection shows the home can withstand high-winds and storms.
To assist homeowners in presenting documentation to their home insurance companies, we can provide a Roof Certification following the completion of a Wind Mitigation Inspection. No additional charge or time required—we will be, after all, on the roof anyways! Just let us know you’ll need one (not all carriers will require a separate Roof Certification when a Wind Mitigation Inspection is done).
During a Wind Mitigation Inspection, the following areas of the home are inspected.
The current condition and the age of the roof are determined, and the structure of the roof covering is compared to the updated 2001 building codes to determine if it meets the new standards.
Roof Deck Attachment
The type of roof decking used for construction is determined and documented, as well as how it was attached to the underlying structure and how the roof is attached to the wall. For example, how the trusses are attached and whether the wraps are single or doubled.
The shape of the roof is determined and documented (i.e., HIP or non-HIP roof). HIP roofs are more geometrically friendly in high winds.
Secondary Water Resistance
Documentation of what type of barrier is in place to prevent water intrusion, should shingles be blown off the roof during a storm.
Point Of Entry Protection
Windows and doors are reviewed for windstorm protection – what type, if any, shutters or storm protection devices are installed to prevent against wind-born debris. To qualify for a wind mitigation discount on your insurance, all installed devices must be Hurricane rated and all openings must have some sort of protection installed.
The age of the home or building is documented and used to determine what the building codes were when the structure was built. Or, if the roof was replaced, to determine the building codes at the time of the new construction. Then, the structure is compared to the building code to ensure it was built to meet Florida standards.
Contact Tampa Bay’s Trusted Home Inspection Company, AcuSystem Home Inspections, For Potential Home Insurance Savings
Call (833) 228-7978 and schedule your roof inspection or Wind Mitigation Inspection to receive a Roof Certification if your home qualifies. These inspections can potentially help you save on your home insurance—or help you get coverage when you can show the longevity of your home’s roof.