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My Insurance Company Told Me My Roof is Too Old, is it?

You might have some roofing issues!

You might have some roofing issues!


  Q.  Why is my insurance company telling me my  roof is too old and that I need to replace it? It  looks fine to me!

A.  Keeping a comfy roof over your head is one of peoples’ highest priorities no matter where they are.  When it comes to homeowner insurance roofs can quickly become a lot more complication than just shingle or tile.  Insurance carriers have detailed data on how long roofs are expected to last, what are the most common causes of roof related claims, and which types of roofs tend to work best. 

There are two main things to consider when talking roofing.  The first is whether the roof is made of standard shingles, architectural shingles or tile.  The second is the shape of the roof, which is important to how much pressure blowing wind must exert on it before damage will occur and if water can pool on it and cause leaks well after it rains. A hip roof is always preferable for standing up to wind and for insurance rates, but gable roofs will still protect you and your family. Flat roofs are rare, but tend to be harder to insure since we get so much rain.

If your Florida house was built or got a new roof after 2002 there is a very high chance that it will be have the newest and most stringent building codes.  Secondary water resistance, which is a rubber-like water-tight barrier that sits underneath the shingles or tiles but above the wooden decking became much more common post-2010.  So what is the difference between shingle and tile?  Other than price, and there is a huge difference between the two there, we must first look at standard shingles versus architectural shingles.  Standard shingles fit together on the roof like a puzzle.  They sit flat and butt up against each other.  Architectural shingles overlap one an other, so the roof appears textured or 3-dimensional.  Standard shingles are expected to last about 15 years in Florida conditions, while architectural shingles are expected to last 20 years.  This doesn’t mean that they won’t last for longer or shorter time, but it does mean that most insurance companies require that standard shingle roofs be less than 15 years old and that architectural shingle roofs be less than 20 years old in order to issue a new policy.  Some even send letters 12 months before the respective 15 and 20 year annual birthdays for each type requiring a roof replacement as a condition of coverage.  This may sound unfair at first, but imagine if you were responsible for 250,000 roofs across a large area.  You had data showing that normal wear and tear generally causes the need for replacement at a certain age.  It then makes sense to require maintenance based on that data to prevent predictable large damages.  Tile roofing is a little bit of a different story.  There are different types of tile – concrete or clay, flat or shaped – but in general it is stronger than a shingle and lasts up to twice as long by industry data.  Tile roofing is generally considered to have a life expectancy of 30 years.  The same maintenance expectations apply as with shingles, but they don’t come into play until the a roof is 30 years old. If you are in need of a roof inspection check out out blog here to learn more.

Recently, Florida has seen a wrath of fraudulent activity driven by unscrupulous roofing contractors searching for work and a quick dollar.  We blogged about this a few months ago. Generally, the scam goes like this and homeowners involved are entirely ignorant or at least maintain plausible deniability of knowledge.  A roofing contractor canvases a neighbor.  They knock on doors offering a free roof inspection.  They ask to see your homeowner insurance policy and promise that they can get you a new roof free of charge – the ask and the promise don’t always come at the same time.  Next, they inspect the roof and claim to have found massive hail damage.  The begin work almost immediately, and then they file an insurance claim on the homeowner’s behalf.  The roof, which never truly had the alleged damaged, has already been fixed and the insurance company never having had an opportunity to inspect the damage is still obligated to pay.  Several insurance companies in Florida have gone out of business solely at the hands of this type of scam in the last 5 years. Many contractors have been caught, prosecuted and gone to jail for it.  If a roofer that you did not call shows up claiming you have damage – get a second opinion!  You may have damage, in which case you deserve to have it fixed within the terms of your insurance contract.  If you don’t, you’ll serve yourself, your neighbors and the state well be putting an end to this rate raising company crashing illegal scam!  Additionally, if a contractor ever asks you to sign an “Assignment of Benefits” (AOBs) as a part of their contract you should undoubtedly refuse.  A direction to pay clause is different.  An assignment of benefits literally strips you of your rights and disallows your insurance company from dealing directly with you in a claim situation. Read a great post about AOBs from American Integrity Insurance here.


About the Author

Jason Levine

Jason received a Masters of Science & Management in Risk Management & Insurance from Florida State University. He has been with Harry Levine Insurance for 9 years and handles the leadership of daily operations. He was the 2013-2014 Florida Association of Insurance Agents Young Agent Council's Agent of the Year. Currently serves on FAIA Board of Directors.


  1. Jason,
    Long story short. My home had serious damage from Irma. My insurance company Sec First has sent my check. I have an older roof and got what I expected. The real problem is under my shingles. After all of my soffits and half of my roof blew off it became aware that I have sever wood rot both on the edge of the roof and on the top of the roof. My roofers tell me that the damage is significant. My policy covers Fungi does that mean if I submit a regular claim that they will cover the rot damage. Obviously I can treat and fix what I see as far as rotted wood but when its buried under soffits and shingles I have no idea that its happening.

    • Hi Troy,

      I’m sorry to hear that the storm did a number to your home. That is never good news. It does sound, however, like the roof may have been towards the end of its useful lifespan. In short, I do not believe that you have any applicable insurance coverage for the roof decking that you’ve mentioned.

      You mentioned that you have coverage for fungi. I cannot speak with 100% certainty without seeing your specific contract with Security First, but you are likely reference their Form SFIV HO 09 FCE 01 06. Here is where your problem lies. First, there is certainly a sublimit for this coverage. You may have as much as $50,000 or as little as $10,000. In any case, this may be enough for shingle roof. The problem is that the Wet Rot or Dry Rot, “…only applies when such loss or costs are a result of a Peril insured Against that occurs during the policy period and only if all reasonable means were used to save and preserve the property from further damage at and after the time the Peril Insured Against occurred.” That comes directly from the form, specifically (Section I – Property Coverages – Additional Coverages – “Fungi”, Mold, Wet or Dry Rot, Or Bacteria – b.). Your issue is that the rot likely occurred over a long period of time, which will likely lead to a total denial of a claim under this coverage. If the hurricane actually caused the rot it might be a different story. However, slow deterioration over time and/or exceeding the useful life of a building system is not insurable. Those are more maintenance and sometimes warranty type matters.

      I’m sorry that I don’t have a more favorable answer for you, but based on your description it sounds like the storm brought to light a major building system problem versus actually having caused it.

      Best of luck!

  2. Hi,
    We bought a house in Hillsborough County about 5 years ago. The previous homeowner said the roof was only a few years old, and it passed the home inspection during the purchase. A few weeks ago, our homeowners insurance agent informed us that our insurance company would no longer be covering our house and he was looking for an alternative company. Apparently, the various companies he has contacted do not want to cover us because the previous homeowner did not pull a permit on the new roof. He found a company willing to insure us but the price is $1,300 more than it was before. The roof is in good shape and does not need to be replaced. Is there anything we can do other than getting a new roof? Would an independent roof inspection help?

    • Hi Sherri,

      There are a couple of things that you can do, but none of them are a magic fix. Unfortunately, this is something that should’ve been uncovered when you bought the house. I would’ve recommended backing out of the sale or demanding a significant concession from the seller at that time. The absence of a permit means that your municipality never inspected the finished roof or (of course) collected the taxes/fees they levy on a re-roof project. It is the municipal records that are considered official, so it’s no surprise that even with an inspection insurance carriers are treating the roof as being as old as the last permit on record. They’re not wrong to do so. The lack of a permit also leaves no record of the contractor who put the roof on, and it leaves open the question of whether or not a proper contractor was even used. No permit is a big red flag and a real problem beyond just official records. You may…

      1. Have a conversation with your agent. I don’t mean the customer service representative that usually helps you. Get with the principal agent and discuss if he or she can go to specific underwriters and ask for an exception. You’ll probably need a recent (post Hurricane Irma) inspection that certifies the condition of the roof and the expected remaining life. You just might get lucky trying this.
      2. Go back against the listing real estate agent (seller’s agent). I would consult an attorney on this first, but there may be some recourse there. It’s probably more trouble than it is worth.
      3. Re-roof your castle! There have been various building codes changes in the last 5 years and a 2017 or 2018 roof is bound to be better than an older roof. You’ll also have the peace of mind of knowing you have a proper and properly recorded roofing system.

      Good luck!

  3. Jason,

    I bought a home 2 years ago with a semi-aging roof but it passed the 4-point inspection for insurance and now I lost approx. 250 shingles from Irma. I filed a claim and just received a check with a 40% depreciation value. I was under the impression that if I have replacement coverage the insurance company is required to pay for 100% of the roof if over 25% of the roof is damaged? I guess my bottom line question is if I have replacement coverage can the insurance company depreciate my roof if under 20 years old in Florida?

    • Hi Paul,

      There’s not much detail to go on from your description, but I think you’ve probably got a case of poor communication regarding the adjustment of your claim going on. We’ve been getting this question a lot post-Hurricane Irma. I’ll copy and paste a response that I recently wrote to one of our clients. Please feel free to write back if you have any further questions or specifics that you’d like to discuss.

      Based on what you described I think there are two separate things going on. First, Replacement Cost Coverage is most often applied on what is called a “Hold Back” basis. It’s basically an anti-fraud measure to ensure that repairs/replacements are made versus just pocketing settlement cash. Effectively, the loss is first adjusted on an Actual Cash Value (ACV) basis as you are describing. Then, once contracts can be proven and/or project completion can be substantiated the remainder that makes up the difference between ACV and the ultimate replacement value is paid. Florida is one of only two states that even has non-hold back coverage available, but even then it’s often not a choice you make; your carrier has the right to use it and they do or don’t. In a mass catastrophe situation like this I’d expect to see it invoked. Regardless, so long as repairs are contracted for and ultimately made you will be made whole at Replacement Cost (of course, within your policy limits and provisions).

      Thank you!

  4. I am Herbert a homeowner in Florida. This past August 2017, I file a claim with my homeowner company for a wind damage to my roof. The insurance company sent out an independent adjuster to examine the roof and found that more than 25% of the total roof is damaged. He documented that over 26% of my roof was damaged. The is issue is the insurance company wants to repair the roof as oppose to the Florida statue 611.1.1 that states that if more than 25% of the roof is damaged the whole roof should be replaced. When I pointed that out to them, despite the fact that the policy says that I am covered for wind and hail damage, they shifted it around to say that Florida Statue 611 falls under building code Law and Ordinance of which I have no coverage. They never said anything to me until i drew their attention to this situation. I want to know the truth about Florida Statue 611.1.1 in light of my policy that says I am covered for windstorm and why does not the 25% rule apply to me? Can you kindly explain to me what do the code Law and Ordinance me and if Florida statue 611.1.1 is apart of this the Ordinance code?
    Thanks in advance for looking my case.

    • Mr. Dawkins,

      Thank you for reaching out! First and foremost, this is a matter for you to consult with an attorney on. I’m happy to offer an insurance expert opinion, but ultimately statutory disputes and legal interpretations are for the courts and their officers. Here are my non-binding two cents though:

      The regulation in question is Section 611.1.1 of the 2007 Florida Building Code. In my opinion, which is not an expert legal opinion, your insurance company is actually correct that they are not obligated to replace your roof in its entirety per the insurance contract that you purchased from them. What the code actually states is along the lines of: If more than 25% of the roof needs to be repaired the entire roof needs be in compliance with the building code in place at the time of the loss. It does not state that the entire roof needs to be replaced even though the end result is that it does. Normally this doesn’t matter if you are properly covered. Many Homeowner policies automatically include 10% or 25% of Coverage A-Dwelling for Ordinance/Law exposure. There is usually an option to buy that percentage up to 50%. What it means is that the cost of construction can actually exceed the Coverage A-Dwelling limit by 10%, 25%, or 50% based on your selection strictly for the purpose complying with situations like this. If this is a rental property I am aware of several Dwelling Fire insurers that simply do not offer Ordinance/Law coverage.

      You need to get with your agent and review your policy. The questions that I would ask are:
      1. Do I have any Ordinance/Law coverage?
      a. If so, how much?
      b. If not, why not and how do I add it going forward?

      My guess without studying your contract is that you simply have none. You don’t have a total loss (house burned down, blown away entirely, etc.) so the issue of the cost of repair exceeding the insurance limit doesn’t exist. Rather, 611.1.1 as you reference it simply states that when >25% of the roof is damage the entire roof must be brought up to code. That means replaced in most situations, but the code does read such that the insurer is not obligated. You signed an application and paid for an insurance contract without Ordinance/Law coverage (if that’s the case) and the contract governs. You are due the value of the repair cost, but without the appropriate coverage (Ordinance/Law) you are not due the extra value of code compliance.

      I would avoid Public Adjusters or Attorneys if at all possible. They’ll promise an increased settlement, succeed or fail and then take 20%-30% in the end as their fee. You’ll be left in the same financial position. It’s sort of getting caught between a rock and hard place. The real conversation is do you have Ordinance/Law, if not why not, and how soon can we add it?

      Again, I am not an attorney or a legal expert, but I hope my thoughts can help you!


  5. Have a home in Florida with Hurricane damage, missing tile and roof cap, the roofing material is no longer available, its not available anywhere What will the insurance company do?

    • Hi Mr. Lea,

      Unfortunately, I cannot answer your question! Your situation is certain to be a common issue following a storm like Hurricane Irma. First, only your insurance company claims department can answer that question. Contractually, your carrier is likely bound to repair or replace your damaged property with property of like kind and quality. There also exists the issue that many repairs must be made to comply with current building codes.

      Your company will certainly make you whole, but if the materials are no longer available materials of the closest like kind and quality should be used. Additionally, some policies have provisions and/or some jurisdictions requiring total replacement versus repair in situations like yours. That way, the entire roof remains of consistent materials and construction methods.

      Good luck!

  6. Curious on your thoughts here.

    After hurricane Matthew we opened a claim with our homeowners insurance company, Tower Hill, who sent out an inspector. The inspector examined our roof and said, no need to pay your deductible ($1000), you just need minor repairs around $250. Tower Hill then sent out a field engineer, to examine our roof and agreed with the engineer. Our 14 year old roof was in good shape, but needed around $250 worth of repairs.

    Then, my family and I received an email from our insurance agency, Bright View, telling us we had to send proof of a FULL REPLACEMENT or we would be dropped from our policy. I’ve contacted both Bright View and Tower Hill, but they are both suggesting I contact each other. Bright View is stating that yes, they can see the repairs are needed, but the claims department and underwriting department are different. Claims is saying minor repairs, but our insurance does not accept “patched roofs” so underwriting is saying replace it.

    I’ve also asked if we can pay for the deductible to have the roof replaced, but have not received a response.


    • Hi Chelsey,

      Thank you for reaching out! It certainly sounds like you are in a bit of a predicament. There are definitely times when all or some of the major functions within an insurance company aren’t on the same page. They are sales, underwriting and claims. We’ve had a major natural disaster, and it sounds like communication between the departments involved and with you has broken down.

      In short, there are two valid things going on here:

      1. Your roof suffered minor damage from Hurricane Matthew. The estimated repairs are $250.00, which is well below your deductible. Thus, there is no possible insurance recovery.
      2. Your roof is worn out by underwriting standards, and it is no longer eligible for coverage with your current insurance carrier.

      Unfortunately, it sounds like the storm and claims investigation brought to light that your roof has reached an important age. Standard shingle roofs just wear out at 15 years. Even if your roof was in OK condition data shows over millions of standard shingle roofs in Florida that 15 years is a sort of magic number for when major problems begin to arise. That age is 20 years for architectural shingles, and it is 30 years for tile roofing systems.

      You’re not going to be able to just pay the deductible and have the carrier pick up the rest of the tab for your new roof. Insurance is designed to indemnify you, which means to put you back to where you were before a sudden, accidental and unforeseeable loss. Insurance does not cover wear and tear or breakdown like a warranty. Thus, the loss was only $250.00 and the existing wear & tear do not factor in. The responsibility to update a roofing system that simply reaches the end of its useful life rests with the homeowner or building owner.

      In short, your roof may be ok. The problem is that it’s (actuarial) science that a roof of its age is going to start breaking down significantly in the near future. Future loss is now foreseeable, which is why many insurer’s will not accept 15+ year old standard shingle roofing systems. I am aware of at least one carrier that would offer you coverage on an Actual Cash Value settlement basis, but this can be unfavorable. If a covered roof claim were to arise the claim would be adjusted factoring in depreciation (what is your 15+ year old roof worth at the moment?). You might get $1,000 (actual cash value today) towards a new roof instead of $15,000 for a new roof (replacement cost).

      Best of luck, and please don’t hesitate to call us to further discuss!

  7. Hi, I have a homeowners policy with American Integrity. The house was built in ’99 and has the original 3 tab roof. I’m gathering estimates but want to make sure I do things right. Dimensional shingles and synthetic underlayment will be installed. Deck nailing will be updated to 6/6. Can you suggest any other items that should affect my wind mitigation / decrease my wind damage premium? Will I need a new wind mit form from a licensed home inspector to prove the changes? (The contractor is licensed in FL and my county and will pull permits/call for inspections.)

    PS: Your explanation of insurance determined life spans for shingled roofs is great to know!

    • Hi Topher!

      In short, you’d have to do very major very expensive retrofitting to incur any significant Wind Mitigation savings beyond just redoing the roof under current building codes. You could, in theory, use dimensional lumber (wooden boards instead of plywood) for your roof decking, retrofit the roof to wall connections, etc. It may be worth it to you. It’s not up to me!

      The best advice that I can give is to find a reputable roofer, make sure they pull permits and discuss the construction methods with them. Much of what you’ll want wasn’t code in 1999 but it now is. Thus, there’s not too much to consider. You can find a copy of a Wind Mitigation Affidavit here: http://www.floir.com/siteDocuments/OIR-B1-1802eff02012012.pdf. The highest discounts would come from:

      1. Being in compliance with Florida Building Codes.
      2. Again, code compliance.
      3. Level C or D Roof Deck Attachment.
      4. Level D or E (though B or C are good and earn discounts) Roof to Wall Attachment.
      5. Hip Roof geometry, which you either have or don’t.
      6. Secondary Water Resistance, which is now code.
      7. Glazed/Fortified Windows/Garage Doors/Openings (but it’s got to be ALL of them on the house).

      You will absolutely need a new Wind Mitigation inspection, but it should pay for itself quite easily!


  8. Hi there ,
    After coming across this thread and not seeing my situation, I figured I’d post it and try to get some light on it and maybe someone else might have similar situation. So I have been a homeowner for about two going three years with an original roof. House was built in 1986 with barrel tile roof, which has been discontinued for what I have been told. Roof has been good up to now and home inspection i purchased gave it about 5 more years so was not to rushed to get it replaced just yet. Now with this Hurricane Irma that has caused major chaos all across South Florida, we actually had some tiles fall and break on our driveway and some loose one’s all around the roof at this point. What is your take on the situation, we have been insured with Citizens since we purchased the house without any issues. I did report it right away and yet to have heard back since they are overwhelmed with claims I can assume. But perhaps you can help with some possible scenarios so that I can have some sort of idea as to what I might be having to do soon. Thanks in advance –

    • Good morning!

      I’m sorry to hear that your home suffered damage during Hurricane Irma. The storm was an incredible show of nature’s potential destructive power. I hope that you and your family are safe, which is what matters most!

      First, I’d like to ask why you are with Citizens? I can think of three immediate reasons off-hand, which are: You live close to the coast in either South Florida or the Tampa Bay area, your home didn’t qualify for regular insurance for some reason, or you’ve been abused by a State Farm agent. Citizens is Florida’s publicly administered insurer of last resort. By its own definition of itself it is only supposed to provide coverage to distressed properties otherwise unable to obtain insurance in the private marketplace. I would advise that you try to move out of Citizens in consultation with your Independent Insurance Agent ASAP. That roof will be a problem though…

      There is a ton of great data on roof life spans in Florida. Dozens of insurance companies have compiled data across the entire state and millions of homes. Your roof may very well have 5 years of life left, but insurance operates on the law of averages. In general a standard shingle roof begins to have demonstrative problems (leaks/blown off shingles/etc.) after 15 years. The same becomes true for architectural shingles at 20 years. Tile falls victim at around 30 years. The fact that tile manufacturers are now offering 50 year warranties is meaningless. The numbers are irrefutable, and while you could certainly milk along a tile roof for 50-60 years with repairs that roof will have significant problems beginning somewhere around (+/-) 30 years of age.

      You’re not going to want to hear this, but — it’s time to bite the bullet and re-roof your castle! I have a tile roof on my home which was also built in the 1980’s. We could’ve continued making repairs (most under $2,500) for the foreseeable future, but in 2015 it just made so much more sense to re-roof the house. Remember, building codes are now extremely better than they were in the 1980’s. A new roof isn’t just a replacement of the old. It’s a major enhancement to the property that keeps animals out better, keeps water out better, improves energy efficiency and many other things.

      Best of luck!

  9. I am in the process of trying to buy a townhome. The roof is from 1997. I have been able to find one insurance company to cover it, but I am not sure if they will need to do an inspection of the townhouse before giving me insurance. The HOA hasn’t done anything yet to talk about when they would get the roof replaced. They have to do the four townhouses at the same time. Will this be a problem with getting home insurance? Do I need to back out?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      First of all, congratulations on the new townhome! I am the wrong professional to advise you to back out of the purchase or not. That would need to come from your attorney or real estate agent. That said, a 20 year old roof may not be a problem at all. If the roof is made of tile then you have another decade until most Florida insurers would take issue. If the roof is shingle, you may in fact find some difficulty getting coverage. You are by no means without options for insurance though.

      Most companies do inspect (often exterior only) but not all do. If this home is right for you then buy it and enjoy it! We’d be more than happy to discuss in detail with some more information. I’m available by phone or email anytime.


  10. Jason,

    I live in Omaha, NE and I have a house built in 1929, I have the cement tile roof that has less than 1% asbestos in it. We recently had a hail storm with 1” up to 3” hail and my roof was totaled. “160+ holes or broken tile” American Family is depreciating my roof 50% Non-Recoverable because of its age. I’ve read that a concrete tile roof should last 50 yrs to life. Do I have a case against the 50% depreciation?

    Thanks you

    Kevin Mears

    • Hi Kevin,

      First and foremost, I am not an expert on Nebraskan insurance contracts nor am I licensed in Nebraska. That doesn’t mean that I cannot help shed some light on your situation though. Just please understand that it comes from a Floridian expert opinion. I can definitively say that your research on life expectation for various roofing materials is next to useless from an insurance perspective. I put a new tile roof on my home in 2015. The tiles used carry a 50 year limited warranty. That’s great peace of mind for me as a homeowner, and its powerful marketing fuel for the manufacturer. It does NOTHING to change that my insurer will take issue with my roof at 30 years of age.

      Your most important first step is to read your insurance policy. Call your agent, hopefully you don’t have to rely on a call center, and ask them about the provisions in your policy regarding claims adjusting practices regarding your roof. You don’t want their opinion or general knowledge. You want to review the actual contractual language in YOUR policy. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have a case against the depreciation. I’m going to guess that there is clear language in your policy that provides for the type of settlement you’re being offered once the roof exceeds a certain age. You’re lucky to even receive an Actual Cash Value settlement versus what would happen here in Florida.

      Here in Florida it’s generally as simple as this: Standard shingle roofs are uninsurable after 15 years. Architectural shingle roofs are uninsurable after 20 years. Tile roofs are uninsurable after 30 years. Most carriers will actually non-renew (cancel) an insured’s policy if a roof exceeds these parameters. They do so because there irrefutable large-scale evidence that no matter what a manufacturer claims the roofs begin to fail after those ages since replacement are reached. We represent dozens of carriers, and we have access to wholesale markets that open up even more options for our clients. I am aware of only one carrier that will provide standard homeowner coverage with a roof that exceeds desirable age parameters. That carrier then uses Actual Cash Value (depreciated) settlement practices.

      I’m sure this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but as homeowners we have the responsibility of maintaining our castles and their systems. Insurers have the responsibility of covering us for sudden, accidental and unforeseeable losses. Insurance policies are far from home warranties that deal with wear & tear. No matter the marketing material on those home systems it’s the contractual language in our policies that governs. That language is driven by millions of statistical data points that make things like the actual age expectancy for a roof quite predictable.

      I wish you the best of luck, and I thank you for your question!

  11. Hello,

    I purchased my house back in 2012 and the roof has never been replaced. It was built in 2000 so it’s almost 18 years old. A couple of months ago I noticed that several shingles came off after a high wind storm. Now I know I need to replace my roof very soon but I’m not too worried about it. Just this past week I was approached by those roofing contractors that would inspect my roof and claim that I could submit a claim for wind or hail. He also recommended that I should replace my roof since a good portion of the nails are rusted. However, I didn’t sign anything and told him that I would think about it. I looked at my insurance policy (state farm) and I do have a wind or hail language.

    My question is do you think it’s worth it to file a claim with the risk that either it gets denied or the actual cash value minus my deductible is less then I would need to replace my roof. Or should I just replace it myself. I’ve never filed a claim before and I don’t want one on my record if it’s not worth it.

    I live in Jacksonville and my shingles came off 6 months after Hurricane Matthew.


    • Good morning Eduardo!

      First, I have to admit that I am alarmed and saddened by your comment, ” Now I know I need to replace my roof very soon but I’m not too worried about it.” It’s not at all surprising that likely crooked roofers are approaching you and trying to make you think they can easily get you a free new roof. This is not at all the case. It’s a predatory practice on their part that may involve you in insurance fraud. Believe me that the new roof isn’t free.

      There is a lot of gray area in your case. Standard shingles are expected to last a maximum of 15 years in Florida conditions, and architectural shingles are expected to last no longer than 20 years. Your roof splits the gap at 18 years; it’s worn out. It sounds like you agree that it has significant wear/tear and needs to be replaced. The confusion lies with whether a windstorm truly caused the damage in question or if the roof was susceptible because it is worn out and beyond any expectation of functioning properly against the elements. Remember, insurance is designed and written to protect against sudden, catastrophic and unforeseeable happenings. Knowing that your roof is worn out and waiting for the wind to damage it to file an insurance claim falls under something called Morale Hazard. That is when a person has incentive to allow damage to happen. It’s not a truly insurable situation, and it may have legal ramifications depending upon your insurance carrier and/or claims adjuster if you do file.

      My advice would be to lose the roofer that approached you. They’re probably rotten and looking to commit fraud, which ultimately just causes higher insurance rates for you, your neighbors and all Floridians. Instead, contact 2-3 roofers on your own. Maybe use a referral site like Angie’s List to find reputable local contractors that will treat you and the system fairly. It truly sounds like the covering on your castle has just worn out. It’s time to be replaced as part of routine maintenance just like an air conditioner or hot water heater needs to be replaced every 10-15 years.

      Best of luck!

  12. Thanks for your replies, Jason

    So, I have a 16 year old home (and roof)and Just recently had my insurance renewed. I went from Geico to Centauri Specialty Insurance here in Texas. I’m not sure if anyone came out and inspected my roof before approving the policy. This past week we had storms with baseball size hail and both a roofer and the insurance adjuster said it needed a new roof, new screens, new fence etc…and he (the independent adjuster) would send his report to Centauri. My question is, I have a 1% deductible full replacement cost policy. Can they say now that the roof is too old for full replacement, or are the obligated to the policy as written.


    • Hi Danny,

      I am not versed in Texas insurance contract forms or law, but I can tell you this based on my expertise in Florida: You’re probably in OK shape.

      Centauri also does business in Florida, and they are a very reputable albeit young carrier. I can’t speak in any certainties without actually seeing your policy contract, but I have never heard of a situation where a 16 year old on an HO-3 Form Homeowner Policy with dwelling replacement cost provisions was settled for Actual Cash Value. We see carriers attempt to work in language to effect or begin to non-renew policies on shingle roofs when they exceed 20 years here. My guess, again I cannot say without analyzing your actual contract, is that you will qualify for indemnity for a new roof less the deductible.

      The second issue is the deductible. The 1% that you reference may either be for “Wind and Hail” or for “Named Windstorm.” Both types of self-retention are typical. If the deductible is for “Named Windstorm” then your “All Other Perils” deductible (probably $500 or $1000) would apply in this case as the loss wasn’t caused by a named storm (i.e. Hurricane). If you do have a “Wind and Hail” deductible then the 1% would apply.

      Hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any further questions.

      • Does replaceing the shingles count as a new roof for insurance companies? Or, will I be forced to spend money I don’t have and will have to borrow for a total roof replacement?I’m in Broward County, Florida

        • Hi Jill!

          What you are running into is a very common situation in Florida. Insurance companies have tens of thousands of policies across the state, and they are able to see very large trends across all those homes. It is a statistical certainty that after 15 years of age in Florida standard shingle roofs tend to start having a lot of problems. Likewise, this happens after 20 years with architectural shingles and after 30 years with tile roofs. Your roof may be in great shape, but unfortunately the odds are problems will start occur with a much greater frequency and/or severity at this point.

          I like using the very stark example that in many ways insurance is exactly like Socialism! To make it really simple imagine the following: There are 5 houses on your street. Someone is going to have a $1,000 problem during the year. Everyone puts $200 in a bucket. That way, rather than someone having to cough up a grand, everyone accepts and knows they are going to pay that $200 amount. It’s subsidy/socialism/acceptance of a known loss versus risking an unknown loss.

          Companies are free to set their underwriting eligibility guidelines within legal parameters, and using the age of a roof is perfectly acceptable in Florida. Remember, insurance is there to protect against unforeseen, sudden and accidental loss. The data shows that roof losses after certain time periods are quite foreseeable and even expected; thus the age restriction.

          You need to consult with your roofer and your independent insurance agent/insurance company regarding just re-shingling versus replacing the full roof. I cannot speak to your case with certainty, but if your sheathing is in good shape it can likely remain in place/be re-used. I would imagine that your felt paper would need to be replaced along with your shingles, and it is now code to have secondary water resistance/bituminous membrane added between the shingles and plywood sheathing.

          Another option that I absolutely recommend against is to seek out a carrier that will write your home despite the roof age using Actual Cash Value valuation for roof losses. Such policies may exclude all water damage coverage too. Essentially, you’d have fire insurance the way you do now, but in the event of a roof leak or other roof problem your claim would be adjusted (paid) with depreciation commiserate with the age of the roof, and there would likely be no coverage at all if water instruction was the cause of loss. You should know this exists though.

          I hope this helps. Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!

  13. This exact same thing happened to me last week. A guy shows up I, like a dummy :I’ve him permission to inspect my roof. Next thing I know he’s in the phone with my insurance company doing a claim and I sign the contingency agreement. After he left I paniced like what just happened here. Our roof is 22 years old and I didn’t think it would hurt to go through the process and see how much farmers ins would cover…our deductible is 1500 so to me that means our roof would only cost 1500 it sounded good to me at the time. And then I was told that over that old will depreciate and insurance probably won’t cover it at all is this true?

    • Hi Tammy,

      At this point you are in a very bad situation having signed a contract containing an Assignment of Benefits (if one was in fact in the contract). It means that you no longer have any of the rights as policyholder regarding this claim. Technically speaking your insurance company shouldn’t/can’t even talk to you about the claim. Yes, that’s right. Yes, I know – it’s your house. The “AOB” contractually transfers your full rights as policyholder to the contractor. I’m hoping you have a copy of the contract. I would carefully read it and try to execute any possible way to rescind it or get out of it. I’d also contact your insurer. Do not file a claim, but ask them if any claims have been filed on your behalf. If they say no, advise them that you needn’t file a claim but a questionable contractor visited you, you unwittingly signed some paperwork, but there is nothing wrong with your roof and you do not want to file a claim.

      The truth is that your roof is worn out. Even the best qualify architectural shingle roofs in Florida are just about done at around 20 years. This conclusion is supported by irrefutable evidence collected by tracking tens of thousands of like homes. Hopefully the situation doesn’t go too far, and the contractor doesn’t take advantage of you. The rest of the worst of the scams go like this: You allow the contractor (because why wouldn’t anyone?) to complete the work. They bill the insurance company 3 or 4 times the fair and reasonable cost. The insurance carrier obtains 3 alternative estimates from local roofers and agrees to pay your contractor the amount of the most expensive one. The contractor takes that money and then sues the insurance company of the balance. A contractor’s lien gets placed on your home that you may or may not even know about for quite some time.

      I’m truly not trying to scare you, but this is happening in innocent homeowners every day in Florida. Even more disturbingly, the legislature refuses to ask because it is controlled by the Trial Bar (the attorneys) who are making millions off these situations. I urge you to contact your State Representative (http://bit.ly/1iSlvNn) and State Senator (http://bit.ly/19U0kKq) to give them a firsthand account of what you’ve already experience. Please help all Floridians set things right!

  14. My roof was damage in hurricane Matthew, the insurance company sent a rep to asset the roof he said the roof needed replacing .The insurance company sent me a check for six thousand dollars, but the cost of replacement is eleven thousand . I have been trying to get the full amount but not getting any where. Is there anything I can do to get them to pay?


    • Hi Mario,

      I cannot be 100% certain without seeing the communications that your insurance carrier sent you, but it sounds like you are experience something called Replacement Cost Holdback. This is common, normal and you should get full payment once the roofing job is completed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest folks out there. Many people will take an insurance payout and go on a cruise vacation rather than fixing their property. In response many insurance companies use the practice of paying an initial amount that is usually equal to the depreciated cash value of the damaged property. Then, once you provide proof that repairs have been completed they cut a check for any remaining amount within the limits of your policy. This is most likely why you’ve only received partial payment. I suggest that you call your adjuster and ask if they are using Replacement Cost Holdback. If so, you have nothing to worry about. When the job is done they’ll pay the rest within the policy limits! Hope this helps and thank you for your question.

  15. Good evening. I came across this blog during my search on the following:

    1. Can the homeowners insurance company force me to get more than 1 estimate?

    I have called 10 contractors this week and only one has come out. His company was recommended to me. He came out and looked at my roof (neighbors dead tree fell on it). He looked deeper I to roof than the adjuster did and found more damage. He was very knowledgeable and explained that in order to replace the plywood that now has holes in it he has to remove more than 25% of the shingles to get to it. He says that Marion Cty law states that the entire roof must be replaced at that point, not just repaired. 2. Is this correct?

    Also, with just a repair it would mean having 2 totally different shingles. 3. Doesn’t that effect insurance policy?

    They are going after homeowner that owns tree for the money but stated that I will not get my deductible back. That does not sit right with me. It was not an act of God as the tree was dead. So it was not my fault. Seems wrong that they get their money back and I do not. 4. Is this right?

    I live in Marion County, Fl.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Martine,

      First, let me express my sympathy for you having to deal with this frustrating situation. There seems to be a lot going on. I will do my best to provide answers and some clarity for you. There are going to be a lot of statutory and insurance contract specific factors to which I cannot speak. I can give you some generalities though.

      First, if it can be demonstrated that your neighbor’s tree was in fact dead and they simply took no action they do have liability in many jurisdictions. You’d have to consult the specific Marion County ordinances (and/or local city ordinances) that may be in play. For assistance with that you are best served by the county Clerk of Courts or an attorney. The deductible issue is suspect to me too, as if they are “subrogating” (going after for reimbursement) against your neighbor deductible recovery is part of the typical result. You should ask about this, and I highly advise that you read your specific insurance contract/policy. Particularly in Florida, standard policy forms are often not used. This means that there can be great difference from insurance company to insurance company in terms of how the policy actually works when a loss occurs.

      To tackle your exact questions head on:

      1. The homeowner’s company cannot force you to get an estimate at all. They can handle all of that by themselves, though you are welcome to have contractors provide estimates and enter them as part of your settlement negotiations. I again refer you to your exact contract/policy, as it has become more common in Florida to have “Right to Repair” clauses. In such cases the company can actually invoke the right to repair, meaning that they can refuse to even entertain your contractor’s estimates and either cut you a check for the amount they believe they can make repairs for, or they can simply insist upon hiring a contractor and initiating repairs themselves. This practice arose because of rampant roofing fraud. I am making absolutely NO such accusation against your contractor that found extensive damage beyond what the carrier said was present. However, that can be the hallmark of questionable contractor behavior. All of a sudden they say you need a new roof and a $2,500 job becomes a $25,000 job. The homeowner essentially becomes a victim as does the insurer. The end result is higher premiums for everyone and an unnecessary new roof (and perhaps new car for the roofer). Again, I’m not so much as even insinuating that you are experiencing such a situation. I’m just pointing out that it happens every single day particularly in the metro Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville areas.

      2. I truly cannot give you a professional answer regarding Marion County law. As mentioned previously, I would advise you to check with your local clerk of courts and/or an attorney who practices within the jurisdiction.

      3. This is contract specific, but most likely no. So long as your roof is in good working order and the replacement shingles are of like kind/quality you should be fine. There is some precedent about having to replace the entire roof if a certain portion or more is damaged/in need of repair. Again, the statutes must be checked for your jurisdiction.

      4. If your company is in fact subrogating against your neighbor and your neighbor’s company accepts liability you very well may be able to recover your deductible. This would be after-the-fact, but it should be possible.

      Thanks & Good luck!

  16. Hi. We live in Central Florida. I received a notice from my insurance company stating that I had 6 months to replace my roof because it is beyond it’s life expectancy. Just a couple weeks before receiving the letter, we had a major storm with high winds and a few shingles were blown off. Can I make claim if I’ve already received in writing a notice to replace our roof? Is a few shingles being blown off even considered storm damage? I want to be a responsibility home owner and fix my roof if it is old but not if a storm has damaged our roof and it can be claimed.

    • Hi Amy,

      First, thank you for being such a responsible Florida homeowner! The State is definitely in crisis right now, with insurance fraud involving roofing and non-natural disaster flooding being the two biggest problems. Premiums are rising and people who own homes are becoming more and more frustrated. Based on the letter than you received I’m going to guess that you have either 15+ year old standard shingles or 20+ year old architectural shingles. In either such cause your roof has surpassed its life expectancy despite any manufacturer warranties to the contrary.

      To directly answer your question, yes, you can file an insurance claim. I cannot speak to whether it would be paid or denied, but it sounds like the damage is minimal. Thus, you may only be covered for the damaged shingles. It sounds like the total cost to replace just a few shingles may even be below your deductible, thus dinging your loss history (like a driving record that all insurers see—though if it was a named storm/hurricane it wouldn’t count against you). If the rest of the roof is just old and shows some wear/tear it would not be covered. I believe you simply need to replace your roofing system as the homeowner. Had there been significant storm damage to major portion of the roof my answer would be somewhat different. Only a claims adjuster can make these determinations though!

      After replacing your roof I would highly recommend seeking out a properly credentialed inspector to complete a Wind Mitigation Affidavit for you. (Check out out blog post on Wind Mitigation inspections http://www.harrylevineinsurance.com/have-you-saved-with-a-wind-mitigation-inspection/) He or she will conduct an inspection in less than 30 minutes. Knowing that your existing roof is probably older than 2002 (major building code change year) I can say with relative certainty that you’ll earn credits applicable to ANY homeowner insurance policy in Florida by getting a Wind Mitigation inspection performed. The credits vary by company, but they are statutorily required.

      Good luck!

  17. Hi Jason,
    Fellow FSU allum! I found this article by researching what to do about my current situation.
    I’m in Tallahassee. I bought my house in 2010. The roof was replaced in 2005 by a previous owner through a reputable roofing company and I have a copy of the final itemized invoice. Just recently (end of 2016) I received notice from my insurance company that they will no longer cover me unless I replace the roof. I asked for a copy of the inspection report which states that replacement is required due to buckling and lifting shingles. My husband contacted the roofing company that replaced it in 2005 and they sent an inspector out. My husband worked for a roofing company many years ago and knows a good bit on the subject, so he showed the inspector the issues. The inspector started off saying something along the lines of “well, after 20 years, a roof like this will have these kinds of problems” until my husband pointed out that the roof was actually only 12 years old. He backtracked quickly after that, but overall did somewhat admit that the original job was shoddy but left quickly. He asked the inspector to send him an estimate for what they would charge for replacement, and now the guy won’t get back to him. During the inspection my husband also noticed several things that were on the final invoice that had not been completed such as flashing around one of the skylights, and squirrel guards that were paid for but missing and some other items that I can’t remember now.
    Is there anything we can do in this situation or do we just have to suck it up and pay for a new roof prematurely because we got unlucky and bought a house that shoddy roof job?

    • Hi Susan!

      First and most importantly, GO NOLES! I can definitely sympathize with your situation. We are seeing more and more cases just like it every day! Unfortunately, the condition of the roof is what it is. Sometimes inspection reports can be overstated or underwriters who have never actually seen the roof can misinterpret things. We’re all human. It sounds like you have some workmanship issues and some existing damage/significant wear & tear. Those problems must be addressed or the home will essentially become uninsurable. You may be able to find very limited coverage from a narrow band of markets, but I wouldn’t recommend going this route.

      You may actually have a lot of power over the roofer. They are still in business, which indicates that the firm is fairly legitimate. Clearly there are major problems with the work they did in 2005, but the power of the Google review, Better Business Bureau and social media may work to your advantage here. First, have your agent negotiate with the company about making repairs versus a full replacement. Then get with the roofer regarding negotiating a pricing accommodation for whichever route you have to take. Perhaps even suggest to them that you’d be much more inclined to post favorable reviews about how they worked with you in a difficult insurance situation and made things palatable versus posting about shoddy work and winding up in a nightmare situation as the next owner of the home.

      To sum things up, you’ve got to deal with the roof issues. You can always review the inspection and ask your insurance agent to work with underwriting to accept repairs unless the scope of the problems truly warrants a replacement. As well, standard shingles (fit together like a puzzle – no overlap) are only expected to last a maximum of 15 years in typical Florida conditions (despite what any warranties say). Architectural shingles (overlap each other) increase that number to 20 years.

      Best of luck to you and please let me know how things turn out!

  18. HI Jason,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I had an insurance adjuster out to inspect my tile roof after the Oct. 2010 historic hailstorm in Phoenix, AZ. He was an out of state Adjuster sent to AZ to help with the endless claims being filed. After being on the roof for a very brief time, he came down and said, “The roof looks fine.” Now I have a slow leak on my ceiling, which I had a roofing company come out to inspect. The roofer took pictures and found cracked tiles with old debris in them, underlayment deteriation/damage, and hail pings on various metal flashings which, having worked that 2010 hailstorm, he is of the opinion that the damage is from that hailstorm and the accompanied hurricane-force winds. Of course, the insurance company’s “expert” roofer says it is wear and tear, “Defective” tiles, and mechanical damage (foot traffic). I am the original owner since 1997 and have NEVER been on the roof. The tile manufacturer, Monier, has a 50 year warranty on the roof. I was told by 3 roofing companies that the integrity of the roof is beyond repair and the roof needs replacing. Meanwhile, the ceiling leak is getting worse with each rain. Now the insurance company is sending out a HAAG engineer for what they call an “unbiased opinion.” I feel he will side with the insurance company. Please advise.

    • Hi Karen,

      It certainly sounds like you’ve found yourself in a real quagmire. I am not intricately familiar with market conditions in Arizona, but we are facing a similar crises here in Florida. There has been so much abuse by crooked vendors targeting folks with shingle roofs 15-20 years old that carriers have been forced onto the defensive. The roofs are, in fact, just aging out due to wear/tear but the crooked contractors are knocking doors, promising free new roofs and then deceitfully getting homeowners to sign away their policy rights. Nearly all cases wind up in litigation with liens on the homes when the contractor wants to charge 3x-5x what reasonable and customary re-roof charges are locally and the insurer refuses to pay the inflated bill. Anyhow, the point is that I understand a little bit of what you’re up against.

      Again, I do not know Arizona law or your carrier’s procedures, but going back 7 years and claiming hail damage raises enormous red flags. Even if your situation is 100% legitimate enough time has passed that it just doesn’t look good. This explains the extra scrutiny. There is another issue in that most insurance contracts stipulate that once you are aware of a loss you must take all available steps to stop and mitigate it without delay (this doesn’t mean climbing on the roof and tarping it yourself). You do have the advantage of the initial adjuster having been out and having told you not to worry. Clearly this may not have been the case. You’re obviously between a rock and a hard place. Additionally, the 50yr warranty on the roof is marketing ploy in my opinion. I have one too on my tile here in Florida. That’s for workmanship. The truth is that given the extreme conditions of both of our local climates there is just about no way that a roof is going to last 50 years. Let’s just put that one to rest right from the beginning.

      My best advice is to get someone to tarp that roof ASAP. Slow recurrent issues – such as your current leak – are ALWAYS excluded by insurance. I suggest both reading your policy and heading into your agent’s office and asking them to walk you through all of the exclusions in the contract. If they’re unwilling or unable you need a new agent.

      I do know two absolutely stand-up agents in AZ. One is in Greater Phoenix and the other in the Tuscon area. If you’d like to seek their local counsel:
      1. John Foxworthy – Tucson Insurance – (866)580-6767
      2. Dave Jackson – Jackson Insurance Group- (480)428-8100

      I hope some or all of this helps. We wish you the best! Please let us know how your situation plays out.

  19. My dtr. Recently purchased a townhome for her and my grandson. We scrapex the money together so she could have enough to cover initial costs. She has a very good job but does not have savings to speak of. She has been working for 2 yrs now. What can she do. No money is no money. Is it possible to finance a new roof with anyone, or are roofs expected to be paid up front? Her estimate was approx. $ 5700.
    It doesn’t sound like much but to some people it is. Can she lose her home if she can’t afford a new roof? I csnnot help her at this time.

    • Hi Jean,

      We certainly wish you and your family the best, and we hope to be able to help you with your insurance needs someday soon. Regarding your specific question, it’s hard to say. I would imagine that there are roofing companies out there that may finance a re-roof job or have third party credit lenders that they work with. You may also try your local bank for money lending options.

      If you are here in Florida you may also try calling the Rapid Response Team. They are commonly owned with People’s Trust Insurance Company, but they do plenty of independent non-insurance work. I believe that they offer several creative options for payment scheduling that may work for you. I am uncertain if those are available to the public at large or just customers referred through People’s Trust Insurance.

      Thanks & best wishes,

      Jason Levine, MSM-RMI

  20. 10/10/16

    Hi, I have a mobile home that has a roof that was blown off during hurricane Matthew. I did have Citizens insurance and in 01/6/12 they made me get a roof inspection, at that time the certified contractor stated in a certification form that I have 9 years left on the roof. I’m now with another insurance company , do they have to honor that certification? My policy is a ACV. It was a roof over and the original roof is still there and no damage inside due to the first roof not leaking. Help

    • Hi Penny,

      I can’t speak to specifics since every company and policy is different so my recommendation would be to call you insurance agent. They will be able to help you. Thank you and good luck with getting your home repaired.

  21. Hi Jason,

    Thank you very much for your detailed responses to these posts!

    We are selling our 21 year old home in Boca Raton that has concrete s tile roof. The home inspector gave a positive review of the home but commented to the buyer that though there are no leaks, the life of concrete tiles is 20 to 15 years. This caused the buyer to hire a roof inspector.

    We’ve had the roof pressure cleaned for 21 years and the roof is solid. Just wondering whether the home inspector over stepped and what your 30 year life expectancy on tiles is based on.


    • Good morning!

      Thank you for writing to us. While I cannot speak to the specifics of your roof I can share the generalities that insurance companies across the state use in their daily operations. Simply put, the general position taken by dozens of insurers in Florida and backed by actuarial data is that standard shingle roofs have an expected life span on 15 years, architectural shingle roofs have an expected life span of 20 years and tile roofs have an expected life span of somewhere between 25-30 years. The data points to notably higher incidences of major damage and leaks once a roof system has reached the end of its expected life span. These ages have become underwriting eligibility guidelines, meaning that many carriers will not issue a policy to a home with a roof that is older than its corresponding life expectancy.

      I can’t really address your concern about the inspector that reported on your roof, but I can say with certainty that absent some specific trait or present damage/condition of your tile the inspector has confused the age associated with shingle systems with that of tile roofs. I would caution about repeat pressure washing on tile roofs too. Make sure that your contractor uses the appropriate PSI and detergent products for roof cleaning. It is very common for a tile roof to show signs of accelerated aging due to too high a PSI and chemicals that are too caustic being used.

      We wish you the best of luck!

  22. I wanted to change my home owners insurance because I didn’t care for the customer service I received from my current one. ( I had hail damage and got 3 estimates, 2 yes 1 a maybe before filing a claim which was deny. It wasn’t so much the denial but the stupidity of the adjuster/claims officer I had to deal with). I then found out that when I bought my home, 2 years ago, it was 1 month shy of it being 20 years old and shouldn’t have been covered in the first place! Needless to say I was surprised and never heard of this before and blame my realtor for not providing this information to me, my home inspector because I got the okay in the roof department and myself for not checking into this further. I’ve decided I no longer want to be a homeowner in Florida and will be putting my place up for sale, with a seller’s assist in the roof and get myself an apartment.

    • Hi Karen!

      I’m sorry to hear of your frustration, but I’m not at all surprised to hear of the situation. The last three years or so have been very rocky in the Florida insurance market. At first glance it can seem like the insurance companies are coming with arbitrary and difficult eligibility rules, but the real problems are crooked public adjusters and dishonest disaster mitigation firms. They have created a sub-industry around knocking on doors, suggesting that you may have damage from a hail storm that was often anywhere from 6 months to 3 years ago, and then either creating damage where none exists and/or beginning demolition and repairs so fast that an insurance adjuster never even gets to see the actual alleged problems. It’s is blatant fraud and it causes honest insureds like yourself to have higher premiums and more claim denials. Complicit homeowners who are looking for a free re-roof are a part of the problem too, but they are few and far between compared to the crooked contractors. Companies have been forced to behave defensively, which can sometimes seem to compromise fairness even though it cannot and does not in the vast majority of cases.

      First and foremost, it sounds like you learned a lesson about insurance the hard way and as an honest and well-intended policy holder. I do have a pretty important question though. How did you know that you had hail damage? Did you have a roof leak, visible damage that you noticed, or was a roofing contractor going door to door in your neighborhood? I’m guessing the denial went something along the lines of alleging that the roof showed visible signs of aging/deterioration/was at the end of its useful life.

      So here is the lesson, and I don’t think it’s fair to blame your home inspector. Their job is only to report on the condition of the roof. Your realtor, however, would preferably be aware of market conditions such as commonplace insurance requirements. Again though, I would stop short of saying this is their fault:
      • Insurance is not a home warranty. It is not, never was, and never will be intended to replace home systems – like a roof – when they wear out. Insurance is a contractual transfer of your risk (potential expenditure to repair/replace) to the insurance company. The policy is only meant to cover against sudden accidental and unforeseeable damage. Your roof was at or near the end of its useful life given its 20+ year age. Thus, based on extensive data that spans millions of homes the companies can all say with relative certainty that loss is foreseeable for a standard shingle roof after 15 years of age, for an architectural shingle roof after 20 years of age, and after 25-30 years for tile systems. The line in the sand has to be somewhere, and you are pre-20 years old at the time of purchase.
      • Aggressive fraudulent practices by crooked contractors have actually caused insurance companies in Florida to go out of business in the last 3-5 years without any hurricanes, actual major sinkholes or other natural disasters. The answer really is fraud. The contractors target neighborhoods built 15-20 years ago and or 30-40 years ago (second round of roofing needed). They go door to door asking if you have insurance and offering a free inspection. Just check out this video from a local ABC News affiliate in Orlando: http://www.wftv.com/news/action-9/action-9-hidden-camera-investigation-reveals-the-high-cost-of-free-roof-offers/88727801.

      I’m sorry that you’ve given up on the American Dream, but keep your head high! Share the video above with your friends and neighbors. Home ownership can be an expensive and difficult endeavor. A home has many systems and their going to break and/or need maintenance. Apartment living has its own set of challenges, though it may absolutely be the best option for you. Remember, insurance isn’t a warranty. It’s literally trading a known expense (your premium) for your risk (the uncertain possibility of a large loss). We wish you the best of luck! Thank you for writing us!

  23. Hello,

    My roof is 20 years old this year and I have been told that my roof needs to be replaced by November when my policy is up for renewal or I will be dropped. I have had 3 roofers come to inspect / appraise the roof and give me a quote on a new one. All 3 have told me that my roof is fine and if a licensed roofer verifies in writing that a roof does not need to be replaced for 3-5 years that should be sufficient and the insurance company has to accept this. Is this correct?

    Thank you in advance for your response.


    • Hi Gloria!

      Thank you so much for reaching out. Unfortunately, the short story is that the roofers that you spoke are not necessarily correct. A few years ago it was a different story, but much less so anymore. Many insurance companies in Florida have adopted hard-line rules that state that standard shingle roofs are ineligible after 15 years of age, and architectural shingle roofs are ineligible after 20 years of age. Insurance eligibility guidelines and premiums are based off of large amounts of data collected over large periods of time, and the carriers have come to feel that such rules are warranted. The state Office of Insurance Regulation has thus far agreed.

      Believe it or not insurance is quite scientific. “Actuarial science” – a fancy name for a lot of data analysis and math – is used to rather accurately predict what type of homes, cars or anything really will have higher than average amounts of trouble. The statistics are clear. Shingle roofs, depending on the type of shingle, start to fail in overwhelming numbers somewhere between 15 and 20 years old. This doesn’t mean that yours will, but it does mean that there is a very high proven chance that it will.

      Insurance is a transfer of risk. You have taken the financial risk of damage to your home and paid the insurance company a relatively small (versus rebuilding your home out of pocket) amount to take that risk upon themselves and away from you. If the house burns down or blows away they are contractually obligated to rebuild your home within the bounds of your specific policy. Your roof is getting to the point where they know its most likely going give you grief. That grief won’t be because of a hurricane or some other sudden, accidental and unpredictable event, which is what insurance is meant to cover against. Instead, they know with a good degree of predictable certainty that your roof is reaching the end of its service life.

      Unfortunately, my best advice is to bite the bullet and put a new cover on your castle! There are products out there in the insurance world that you may still qualify for, but they are generally very restrictive and would not provide coverage if your roof leaked and water damage occurred or something along those lines. If you need any roofer recommendations I can refer some, even one I used on my house. I got a new roof in 2015.

      We wish you the best of luck and hope to work with you in the future!

  24. Julie Levine,

    I am in a similar situation to Pat Lambert but have not yet purchased our home. We are past the inspection period. I am having a hard time deciding on a carrier to insure our home with an 18 year old architectural shingle roof. Can you provide insight on the carrier you are speaking of?

    Thank you.

    • Julia,

      Thank you again for reaching out. First, I personally would either demand a concession from the seller to re-roof the home, or I would not purchase it. Florida insurance carriers are taking more and more defensive stances when it comes to underwriting dwellings with aging roofs, as the legislature continues to refuse to close loopholes that allow unscrupulous public adjusters, disaster mitigation services and personal injury attorneys to colossally exploit the system. Homeowners are rarely to blame, but with predators promising a free new roof it’s hard to turn down the offer. Remember, there is no free lunch. A roof today and a 40% premium increase (even if it wasn’t you who got the roof) tomorrow is hardly free. We are seeing the Office of Insurance Regulation allow rate hikes that high recently too – that means they’ve been scrutinized and they’re justified.

      We do have a couple of carriers, as previously mentioned, that will write an architectural shingle roof up to 20 years in age. I can think of one in particular that is an excellent carrier. In fact, I have used them personally in the past. They are a Florida based carrier with administrative offices in Orlando, FL and Columbia, SC. They are a healthy company with $274.5 million in Florida written premium. This makes them among the largest of the property writers in our state. They made $2.77 for every dollar of premium they wrote in 2015. However, reflecting the overall market this year to far their first quarter 2016 numbers show them losing $12.79 per ever dollar. This will flatten out as the year progresses, but it’s a great illustrator of how without a hurricane, rampant sinkholes or any other natural catastrophes insurance fraud is wreaking havoc. These loss numbers, while concerning for the marketplace, are actually very good across the set of 50+ insurers in Florida.

      Only you can decide if the home you’re under contract on is in fact your new castle. I would urge you to be incredibly cautious about an 18yr old roof though. Even if it can be insured there is a very good chance that in 2 years your carrier may request proof of a new roof or issue a non-renewal notice. This may all sound unfair at first, but please check out the link below. It’s not the insurance companies that are the problem. It’s the bad actors in the marketplace and our elected leaders’ refusal to take a stand on behalf of consumers!


      Thank you and please let us know if we can assist you in any way!

  25. We recently purchased a 30 year old home with the intention of getting a joint homeowners and car insurance policy. The roof was inspected and we received the good news that the roof does not need to be replaced, that we have 40 year shingles on the roof. However, our homeowners insurance company is telling us that they will not write a policy where the shingle roof is over 15 years old. We live in Florida. Do you know of any insurance company in Florida that would write a homeowners policy or our we doomed to have to bite the bullet for a new roof?

    I look forward to your response. Thank you.

    Pat Lambert

    • Hi Pat!

      Welcome to Florida! The land of sunshine, windstorm, the occasional freeze and a whole heck of a lot of roofing fraud! The short answer is: Yes. If you want to obtain insurance coverage from a standard carrier you are generally going to have to replace that roof. You may not have to though, and I encourage you to call us for a consultation.

      Shingles that come with a 40 year warranty are grossly misleading to the consumer. If they are standard shingles (fit together like a flat puzzle) it is almost impossible that they’ll last more than 15 years here. If they are architectural shingles (overlap and create visual texture) it is almost impossible that they’ll last over 20 years in the Sunshine State. My best advice is to completely ignore that warranty number. It’s a great sales piece. I just put a tile roof on my home with a 50 year warranty. Most insurers would give me the same issues that they’re giving you but at the 30 year mark; period. They’re not wrong. I’m probably going to start having to make repairs and experiencing recurring leaks about then.

      Between the intense heat and bleaching effect of our sunshine, the incredible physical force of daily summer thunderstorms that can often carry 30mph+ wind gusts and hail, our few but definite winter freezes and a nearly unchecked epidemic of unethical roofers praying on unwitting consumers your roof just isn’t going to last much past the 20 year mark if it is shingle. Sure, if you have incredible pride of ownership you can extend it, but you cannot defeat nature. Insurance is built on risk pooling, or taking everyone’s issues and throwing them in a big pot. Thus, everyone is subject to the general trends and statistics when it comes to underwriting a policy.

      I do have a single carrier that will offer an option for a shingle roof that is +20 years old to have coverage on an Actual Cash Value basis. This means that the roof is adjusted for depreciation at the time of loss. This same carrier would offer Replacement Cost Coverage for a roof younger than 20 years. In other words, if your roof was less than 20 years old and needed to be replaced because of a covered loss they’d pay for it less your deductible. Uniquely, for a shingle roof over 20 years old they would apply depreciation and your deductible, but they would still pay out something. It would most certainly not be the full cost of a new roof and could disappointingly low. Something is better than nothing though, at least in theory.

      A final thought – our building codes have improved immensely in the last 15 years. Think matchsticks versus fortress. A new roof is actually a very sound investment for your castle! What’s even better is that recent code compliance will translate to significant Wind Mitigation discounts that can save you hundreds on insurance premium. Thank you for contacting us and I hope I was able to help a bit. Feel free to call our office to learn more about your options.

  26. Hello Jason. I am a homeowner and I suspect that It’s time for me to replace my roof. I know that it’s been more than 18 years since I’ve had one. Am I obligated to replace it or can I make a claim with my insurance agent? my insurance is with AllState. My agent told me that for normal wear and tear is my responsibility. I thought that was one of the reasons I pay homeowners insurance. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you so much for your question. Insurance is often misunderstand, and it’s certainly not something that most people are taught about. That said, in direct response to the last line of your email I am going to very much educate you on what your policy is designed to protect, why you pay premiums and what your expectations of your insurer should be.

      First, insurance is a contract designed to replace uncertainty (risk of a large expense) with a known cost (your premium). You pay a pre-defined amount to avoid risking the cost of having to completely rebuild your home such as in the case of a catastrophic fire/hurricane/etc. Insurance policies operate on the premise of what is called indemnity. This means that in the event of unforeseeable sudden and accidental loss your contract is supposed to respond by making you whole – or putting things back to the way they were before the loss, no better and no worse. Your insurance policy is not a home warranty, and it is not written to protect against wear and tear or normal arrival at the end of the useful life of a home system (such and an 18yr old shingle roof). Part of owning a home or any building is maintaining its systems. That, of course, requires an operating budget (whether a high-rise or a modest home) and the need to replace HVAC, plumbing, roofing, electrical and other components as time passes. Absent a sudden unforeseen accidental event such a hurricane or fire these costs are not insurable. They’re simply part of being a building or home owner. It’s sort of like changing the oil in your car every 5,000-10,000 miles. It’s required upkeep and a known expense that is part of vehicle ownership.

      In a nutshell, your policy is designed to protect you against a set of perils or risks that could happen by random chance. Your policy is no way shape or form a home warranty or a hedge against aging building systems that need to be replaced. You pay your premium such that you have a measurable expense versus taking an unknown risk (i.e. many years you may have no losses, but in a hurricane year you may have $100,000+ of damage to your home). It’s a certainty versus an unchecked gamble. You should expect your insurer to be there for you at the time of loss; not when things are simply worn out. Some people may even prepare for such inevitable system replacements by setting up a saving account and putting away a certain amount of cash each year. As projects like a re-roof become necessary they’ve then got a home systems fund from which to draw.

      I hope that this brief explanation helps clarify your understand of your homeowner insurance and answers your question. I wish you the best, and encourage you to respond back with any further questions or concerns.

      Thank you!

      Jason Levine

  27. I am a Risk Manager in the Caribbean and the underwriting in Florida as I recently discovered as trying to insure my mother’s home is more mass data driven and less specific to the exact loss characteristics. In turn, much of the US insurance practice is completely without merit as it does not take account of actual risk. I can imagine the incredible amount of environmental damage that replacing good roofs is doing and the increase in the cost of living for ordinary people. Moreover, people who purchase a well built home are attracting a penalty and assisting people who purchase poor quality homes. It is actually along with the state driven underwriting and rate regulation distorting the market and turning the insurance industry out of the free market sphere; very dangerous and completely contrary to what one thinks of when you hear about the USA.

    This is a well written and reasoned article but does highlight some of the failings of the underwriters in Florida and elsewhere I imagine. Other factors that data drivers need to consider when running the data is the date of construction. For example, after a catagory 5 hurricane some years back in the Cayman Islands the structures with roofs over 100 years old made of zinc and timber (Honduras yellow pine) had a survival rate of about 10:1 over modern shingle roofs with strapping and protection. The shape of these older roofs were shaped like a witches hat and the timber (I think it is nearly extinct) because of its superior resistance to insects and weather were the key factor not the age of the roof.

    My mother’s property in Florida was built in the 1940’s and has a very well constructed roof and I have advised her not to remove the roof but rather have an engineer inspect it and try to get it placed on a bespoke basis with an non admitted carrier (such as Lloyd’s) who understand underwriting better than the computers. They might have to do some manual work and old fashion underwriting but at the end of the day the risk is going to get placed and she is going to get a decent price. I am using my contacts directly in the London markets on Fenchurch street to get around this foolishness that the US brokers are attempting to push on the clients.

    I understand the insurance company/underwriters concerns and the loss history for the houses built in the late 1960’s through the 1990’s in South Florida are likely to have poor construction but big data needs to yield to proper underwriting and this behaviour needs to be discouraged if we are ever to stop the sea from rising and money in the consumer’s pockets.

  28. I would like to state that not all roofing companies do this. Good ones will have an adjuster from the homeowner’s insurance company go out and inspect the roof to approve or deny the claim. If the adjuster from the insurance company approves the work to be done, then how is it wrong for the homeowner to to use the roofing company to replace their roof?

    • Christina,
      Thank you so much for participating in the conversation on this issue and you are correct! There are many honest and hard working roofers out there. If we can get the good contractors, insurance professionals and homeowners all on the same page we can successfully fight back against the dishonest contractors that are straining the system for everyone. You bring up a good point about the core of the problem, which is the inability of insurance claims adjusters to effectively thwart these roofing scams. The unscrupulous contractors are exploiting legal loopholes that leave the adjusters no choice but to pay for certain unnecessary and inflated work. I would reason that just because the system is broken doesn’t make it right for a homeowner to knowingly enable the abuse. Equally so, a homeowner who does not know the specifics of the scam has done no wrong and is as much a victim as all parties involved.

      Homeowner’s are certainly not to blame in these situations. It’s a lot like the scams that have been common in the past involving car windshield repair. A glass company takes a small hammer and chips your windshield in your driveway. They then knock on your door and say that they are going door to door in your neighborhood offering free inspections. If they find anything they’ll replace your windshield for free – provided that you have proper insurance – and they’ll even give you a box of steaks, a gift card or some other legally questionable rebate. The vehicle owner, like the homeowner in roofing fraud situations, is the victim. There are no two ways about it. Another example would be sinkhole claims in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. These counties sit largely on sand and not subterranean limestone. That makes a sinkhole geologically impossible. Unscrupulous public adjusters still filed thousands of sinkhole claims in those areas. Even if denied the insurers spend an average of $10,000 per claim to prove there was no actual sinkhole. The system was strained and costs were passed along in the form of higher premiums due to the allure of a big payout promised by a crooked public adjuster; not due to company business model or greed.

      The roofing situation seems to have taken off so well because of the value of the asset or roof. Where a homeowner can wade into questionable territory is when they know that their roof is reaching the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced but do nothing. The thinking here can be that if they just wait until the next storm then they’ll get it free from the insurance company. This is much more appealing to some people than having to pay what is often more than $7,500 out of pocket, but is just the fair cost of home ownership. This is called morale hazard, or the situation in which the individual sees themselves as being belter served by having poor morale and letting bad things happen rather than proactively taking care of them before they get worse. Again, this is not usually the cause in the roof scams we’ve been discussing.

      What matters the most is that allowing the scams to continue, even if the system itself unintendedly permits them, doesn’t make it right to do so knowingly. In fact, what it ultimately does is ensure that insurance premiums will continue to rise and coverage offered will become more and more restricted. This issue should make you angry as it is victimizing you. Homeowner’s are never to blame. The call to action is for homeowners to be aware of the traps that are out there and to help support a responsible and thriving insurance marketplace that drives down premiums by isolating and eliminating fraudulent claims while quickly and faithfully paying legitimate ones.

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