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.