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