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How Long Does a Roof Last? (The Age of Your Roof and Insurance)

How Long Does a Roof Last?: Age of Roof and Insurance

Your home does a lot for you: it keeps you warm and dry, it keeps you safe, and it keeps all your things in one place. Aside from the odd repair or two, it’s holding up and doing its job well.

That’s why it comes as such as shock when your insurance company informs you that your roof age is too old and they are going to drop your homeowners insurance coverage if you don’t get a new one.

Huh?

You know you need to start calling roofers when you have a leak or severe hurricane damage. But the age of a roof and insurance company requirements aren’t typically thought of as reasons for getting your roof replaced.

Which might leave you wondering, “How long does a roof last? Does the insurance company know something I don’t?”

Yes, The Insurance Company Knows Something You Don’t

It should come as no surprise that insurance companies are dedicated number crunchers. They have entire departments dedicated to compiling data on any and every insurable, including roofs.

I can guarantee you that your insurance carrier has detailed data on how long roofs are expected to last, the most common causes of roof-related claims, and which types of roofs are most resistant to damage.

There are two main factors to consider when examining the age of a roof and insurance requirements: covering type and roof shape.

Having the funds available to pay for claims is entirely dependent on the insurance company collecting the right amount in premiums (not enough money coming in + too much money going out = bad business). That’s why insurance fraud is such a big deal.

If your insurance company can predict—as much as possible, anyway—which roofs are likely to have a claim, they can increase premiums for these “riskier” policies and build up a stash for when those claims start rolling in.

So when they send you a notice to either replace your roof or find another carrier, it’s because your roof age fell into the “dark place” in their data, where it simply becomes too risky for them to insure.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

So, according to the insurance companies, how long does a roof last?

There are two main factors to consider when examining the age of a roof and insurance requirements: covering type and roof shape.

Covering Type

Most roofs fall under one of three categories: standard shingles, architectural shingles, or tile.

roof shingle comparison

Standard shingles butt up against each other, giving the roof a flatter, more uniform shape and are expected to last up to 15 years. Architectural shingles overlap each other, giving the roof a more textured, three-dimensional appearance. These are expected to last up to 20 years.

Tile roofing is made of either concrete or clay and comes in different shapes and textures. Tile roofing is typically stronger than shingle and is considered to have a life expectancy of 30 years.

This doesn’t mean that your architectural roof will start collapsing after 20 years. But these guidelines have become standard in the insurance industry so in most cases, your roof age will have to fall within these ranges in order for you to be issued a policy.

Roof Shape

The second thing your insurance company will look at is the shape and slope of your roof. A roof’s shape affects drainage as well as how much wind speed it can endure before damage occurs.

Most insurance companies tend to prefer hip roofs (where all four sides of the roof slope downward), but gable roofs (where two sides slope downward) will still protect you and your family. Flat roofs are rarer in Florida; they are usually harder to insure as they don’t allow rain to run off as easily as other roof types.

hipped vs. gabled roof comparison

Age of Roof and Insurance

Based on the insurance companies’ extensive data, older roofs are more likely to receive serious damage than newer roofs. As building codes and technology evolve, roof quality goes up.

For instance, secondary water resistance, which is a rubber-like, watertight barrier that sits between the shingles and wooden decking, became much more common post-2010. Homes with this extra layer of protection have a much better chance of weathering the next storm unscathed.

The truth is, insurance companies feel much more comfortable with newer roofs and don’t want to open themselves up to more risk than they want to.

This may sound unfair at first, but imagine if you were responsible for 250,000 roofs across an area that was well-known for severe storms. If you had data showing that normal wear-and-tear tends to limit roof age, you would probably make the same demands.

Another factor leading to more roof replacement demands is insurance fraud. Shady roofing companies that fake (or even create) roof damage have led to an uptick in claims that many insurers cannot keep up with. As a result, some companies are requiring that all shingle roofs be replaced after 10 years.  If they are not replaced, those companies are either offering less comprehensive coverage or no coverage at all.

 

It’s All About the Bottom Line

In order to stay in business, your insurance company needs to mitigate its losses. And one of the ways it does that is by refusing to cover roofs that it believes are prone to severe damage.

If you’ve received a notice from your insurance company that your roof is too old, you have two options: 1) have your roof replaced or 2) find an insurance company who will cover it. There are a few insurance companies who will insure 16-year-old standard shingle roofs, but no insurance company will cover your roof forever. At some point, you will simply have to replace your roof.

Yes, even if there’s nothing currently wrong with it.

However, a new roof is a good opportunity to get a wind mitigation inspection. In addition to giving you the peace of mind that your home can better withstand the next big storm, you’ll also save on your insurance premiums.

If you have received a notice that your roof is too old or if you’re looking for homeowners insurance, call Harry Levine Insurance. We pride ourselves on building a customized, comprehensive network of policies so each of our clients feel protected, listened to, and safe.

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.

8 comments

  1. Good Morning Jason
    Any insurance co you know of that will cover the house if the proof permit shows replaced 15 yrs ago? e changed ins companies and then after the first month said they were cancelling ins. due to the proof of roof replacement was 15 years ago.

    • Hi Candy,

      Thanks for reaching out! A few months ago the answer would have been: Yes! I can think of several markets that would consider the home with a 15+ year old roof. This is especially if the roof is tile or architectural shingle. Anymore though, at least in the newly coined “SOLO” counties (Seminole, Orange, Lake, Osceola) underwriting eligibility has become very tight. If you have a tile or metal roof there should be some carriers available. If it’s ANY kind of shingle, I’m currently aware of only one top tier company offering top tier coverage if your roof is 15+ years old. It happens to be a major national household brand too! A 93 year old company that is also a Fortune 100 (meaning very stable and reputable). Give us a call to discuss!

      Thanks,

    • Hi Peggy!

      As far as Personal Insurance companies in Florida go, I am currently unaware of one that would insure a 30+ year old roof under any kind of policy that would be worth your premium dollars. The answer to this question was different a mere 6-12 months ago, but the marketplace is tightening and hardening under pressure. I believe that 2020 will be a very critical year in determining what having Personal Property Insurance is like in Florida. If we can stop the fraud and abuse largely perpetrated by unscrupulous contractors and a well-known roster of attorneys things can go back to normal. If not, we can expect to have a consumer experience statewide that mimics what has been going on in Tri-County (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade) for a decade or so now. That means a low supply of mediocre coverage full of exclusions and coverage gaps at very high prices. Someone with a roof that is 30+ years (no matter its condition) will likely be forced to residual markets like Citizens Property Insurance Corp. or the Excess & Surplus Lines marketplace.

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Jason Levine, MS, CPCU

    • Hi Todd!

      Thank you for reaching out. Your question is a good one, and there is no one universal answer. Here in Florida metal and tile roofs are typically expected to last significantly longer than shingle roofing systems. That said, under current market conditions and underwriting eligibility restrictions we’ve seen the long standing days of 15 years for standard shingles, 20 years for architectural shingles, and 30 years for tiles and metal (no matter that 50 year warranty) disappear. Many companies are no employing 10-15 year age requirements for all roofs, and some are even restricting new business to homes constructed in the last 10 years or newer.

      It is largely thanks to Assignment of Benefits abuse, and out of control claims costs thanks to attorneys and unscrupulous contractors. Hopefully, we can get some legislative relief through Tallahassee this year. We’ll see.

      The answer to your question: It used to be 30 years as a standard practice. Now, it’s varies by insurance company and is often quite less based on their claims experiences.

      Thanks!

      Jason Levine, MS, CPCU

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks so much for reaching out. Unfortunately, a roof coating is not going to be considered in the estimation of roof life by any insurance company that I am aware of in the Central Florida marketplace. The elastomeric coating may be a fabulous tool to extend service life, and it may be a true indicator of pride of ownership. It is not something that has any sort of general underwriting provisions around it though, so other than attempting to talk underwriters into accepting a risk with a 30+ year old roof with said coating on a case by case basis it doesn’t move the needle.

      Unfortunately, as the market conditions in Central Florida further devolve into a facsimile of those in the Tri-County area (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade) roof age requirements are becoming tighter and tighter numbers (as low as 10 years from some carriers on shingles now). A 30 year old tile roof is considered beyond its serviceable age by all of the markets – EXCEPT FOR ONE – that I am aware of. Others may consider properties with 30+ year old roofs for coverage, but they’d almost certainly include restrictions that exclude all Water Damage, and they would likely value the roof on an Actual Cash Value basis (depreciated and near worthless) value versus a Replacement Cost basis (typical new for old).

      Sorry I don’t have better news.

      Thanks!

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