Homeowners Insurance and Roof Storm Damage: 5 Things You Absolutely Need to Know

Don’t you just love the sound of rain gently tapping on your window? How about the sound of water trickling down an interior wall? Not quite as serene, is it?

You go from curling up in a warm blanket to finding every available towel to sop up the mess.

It’s probably around this time you start asking questions like:

  1. Does my homeowners insurance cover storm damage to my roof?
  2. What do I need to do after I find roof damage from a recent storm?
  3. Why does somebody need to evaluate my roof damage?
  4. Can I fix my roof myself?
  5. Why did my neighbor’s insurance replace their roof, but my insurance didn’t replace mine?

1. Does my homeowners insurance cover storm damage to my roof?

Typically, yes. It will depend on your policy, but homeowners insurance usually covers:

  • Wind damage
  • Hail damage
  • Damage from fallen objects, like tree limbs
  • Resulting interior damage from storm damage to your roof

So, let’s say strong winds blow shingles off your roof. The opening in the roof causes rainwater to leak into your bathroom and damages the wall. Your homeowner’s insurance will likely cover the storm damage to your roof and the resulting damage to your bathroom’s wall.

However, if the leak in your roof is not from storm-created damage, you may not have coverage for your roof.

For example, let’s say there’s a severe thunderstorm and you notice water coming down your wall. You know your roof is old, but you think the storm may have caused the damage so you call your agent. After a claims representative evaluates your roof, they conclude the water is coming in due to wear and tear, not damage from the storm. This means the damage to your roof is not from a covered cause of loss under your policy, and so there would be no covered damage to the roof.

However, the damage to your wall will likely be covered with your homeowners insurance (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, of course).

This is because homeowners insurance is designed to respond primarily to sudden events, such as wind and hailstorms. Aging, regular upkeep or maintenance are not covered by a homeowners policy.

2. What do I need to do after I find roof damage from a recent storm?

  • Take photos before and during clean up
    If you or a contractor begin any clean up prior to an inspection by a claim representative, consider taking photos. This might include shingles in the yard, hailstones to document size, damage to trees or personal property etc. If emergency repairs are necessary, make sure you or your contractor document the scene with photos.
  • Do your best to prevent damage in the meantime
    Your home is likely your most valuable asset and we know you want to keep it that way. Use of a tarp on the roof and other temporary emergency repairs should be considered to prevent further damage. If necessary, you may consider contacting a contractor to assist with these temporary repairs.
  • Submit your insurance claim
    Now it’s time to call your insurance agent that you purchased your policy from to submit a claim.

If you involve a contractor in this process, please ask them to take photos of the damage and to provide an itemized estimate of what they think needs to be repaired.

3. Why does somebody need to evaluate my roof damage?

Claims professionals are kind of like detectives trying to figure out what happened. They are well-versed in the research and know what to look for when they evaluate a roof with potential storm damage. Their goal with an initial evaluation or payment is to do the best with the information available to assess the damages.

Roofers and contractors also evaluate roofs, but may not have the experience or training in identifying storm-caused damage. A contractor may see damage to your roof and know there was a recent storm, so logically they may conclude that is where the damage originated. But, without training in what hail, wind or rain-caused damage looks like, they may be drawing the wrong conclusion.

However, it’s important we mention, some contractors are experienced and trained in identifying roof storm damage. So, if you’re considering asking a contractor to help inspect your roof damage ask about the roofer’s credentials for storm damage inspections and know that a claim representative will still need to do an inspection as well.

Vet any contractor you hire.

Before reaching out to a contractor for help with your roof, do some research.

  • Make sure they’re licensed and insured
  • Look up local contractors on the Better Business Bureau
  • Ask local friends and family about roofers and contractors they recommend
  • Contact your local Home Builders Association

4. Can I fix my roof myself?

First, please don’t start repairing your roof until a claim representative has inspected it first. It’s a policy requirement.

If your damage is covered, your claim will include funds for professional installation or repairs, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. It’s not just coverage for the materials.

But, if you feel so inclined as to install your own roof, that’s your choice. Just make sure your insurance company has inspected your roof damage first. Also, please note, the claim amount you may receive will be adjusted since you are not paying for professional installation. 

5. Why did my neighbor’s insurance replace their roof but my insurance didn’t replace mine?

All roofs weather a storm differently.

Sounds philosophical, right?

But, just because a storm passed through doesn’t mean you will have roof damage. So, your neighbor’s roof may have damage, but your roof may have none.

There are several variables that impact how a roof weathers a storm:

  • Age of the roof
  • Amount of debris built up
  • Animal access
  • How the roof is maintained
  • How the roof was installed
  • Brand and grade of roof surfacing materials
  • Style and slope of the roof structure
  • Direction the slopes face
  • What direction the storm came from
  • If the roof has tree cover or other natural shields protecting it from hail and wind

Neighbor envy is a real thing when it comes to storm-related roof damage claims. Your neighbor may be getting a new roof, covered by their insurance, but your claim from the same storm may not cover a new roof.

Seems unfair, right?

But, your insurance carrier can only make decisions based on what the claim representative observes on your roof, not your neighbor’s roof.

Your neighbor’s roof may be older or it may have had more debris hit it. If your roof is newer or better maintained, it may not suffer damage from the storm.

Roof storm damage can really rain on your parade, and while that was a horrible pun, we genuinely hope the storm passes soon and you have a strong roof over your head again.

Copyright Auto-Owners Insurance Company © 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer: The analysis of coverage is in general terms and is superseded in all respects by the Insuring Agreements, Endorsements, Exclusions, Terms and Conditions of the Policy. Some of the coverage mentioned in this material may not be applicable in all states or may have to be modified to conform to applicable state law. Some coverages may have been eliminated or modified since the publishing of this material. Please check with your local Independent Auto-Owners Insurance Agent for details.