Roof requirements for homeowners insurance
Homeowners insurance providers may closely inspect your roof's condition before offering or continuing home insurance coverages. Roof insurability depends on various factors, such as:
- Age: The age of your roof and insurance coverage go hand in hand. A newer roof may mean a lower rate. A roof that's 20 years old or more may be ineligible for coverage or only be covered for its actual cash value.
- Condition: Insurance companies are looking for roofs that are in good condition with no visible signs of wear or tear.
- Material: A slate roof is considered more stable and may earn you a lower rate. A wooden roof isn't fire-resistant and poses a risk, resulting in a higher rate or may make you ineligible for a policy.
- Shape: Gable roofs and hip roofs are the two most common roof types. Their different designs affect their susceptibility to damage, and therefore impact the cost to insure them. Hip roofs tend to perform better during windstorms and discounts may be available in coastal areas.
You can select your roof material and shape during the quote process—making it easy to see how your roof type affects your insurance price. Some roofs may not be eligible for a policy based on the age and material. If it qualifies you would then be able to purchase a policy. Once you have a policy the insurance company will often inspect the property to ensure the age and condition of the roof actually qualifies.
How do roof type and materials impact cost?
Insurers often factor the type of roof and type of material into their rebuild costs. Roofs made of slate, tile, concrete shingles, or metal offer the best protection, but they're also the most expensive to replace.
Here's how different roof material types rank for insurance costs in most states (from lowest to highest):
Metal roofs are most often made from zinc, copper, or steel alloy pieces or tiles and can last anywhere from 40 to 70 years. Their fire-resistant qualities, longevity, and durability make metal roofs very appealing to insurance companies.
Slate is resistant to fire, rot, and insects and requires little maintenance. Tile tends to crack more easily, but it provides quality insulation and won't rot or burn.
While this is the most common roof type because of its affordability and relatively long life span, it decays more easily than metal or slate.
Comprised of shingles or shakes, wood roofs aren't fire-resistant. Some insurance companies won't cover a wooden roof or may require you to apply a fire-retardant protectant in order to get coverage.
How roof age impacts insurance costs
Generally, the newer the roof, the better your home insurance rate. An older roof can have unforeseen issues such as water damage that can cause deterioration and increase the need for replacement.
If your roof is 20 years old or more, some insurance companies will require an inspection before offering coverage. Other insurers may only cover the actual cash value of your older roof, meaning you'll be on the hook for the remainder of the costs. And some may outright refuse to write a policy for a home with a roof that's more than 20 years old.
What are the different shapes of roofs?
While it may not be as important as the material or age of your roof, your roof's shape can also impact your home insurance premium. Let's look at these common roof shapes:
A gabled roof is shaped like an upside-down V. It slopes down on each side with a peak at each end of the home. It can easily shed water and debris — a plus for insurance companies — but is often more expensive to insure due to its higher probability of lifting in high winds.
A hip roof usually costs less to insure due to its high wind resistance. The four sides of a hip roof slope down the sides, front, and back of a home reducing the chance of damage during high winds and storms.
A flat roof is a roof that is completely, or almost level and may be more susceptible to water and weather damage.
Pro tips for roof maintenance
The condition of your roof affects the value of your home, so maintenance is imperative, especially as your roof ages.
Get a roof inspection every few years: Preventative maintenance could save you from a large future expense (remember, your home insurance policy won't cover wear and tear).
Remove objects that land on the roof: Debris may cause your roof to deteriorate.
Replace worn shingles: Damaged shingles are more susceptible to water damage and leaking.
Document the health of your roof: Before and after photos will accurately depict the severity of roof damage for a potential insurance claim.
Contact your agent or insurer whenever you make an improvement: Upgrades to your roof could earn you a discounted home insurance rate.