Will Insurance Pay for a New Roof?

Author: Dan Stout
March 29, 2023

Roofs are built to take tremendous abuse from the elements, but nothing is invulnerable. Whether it's heavy snow or baking sun, the fierce battering of hail or ferocious hurricanes, Mother Nature has surprises that can overwhelm even the best-built roofs.

An uprooted tree leans on a home roof with caution tape around property
When faced with disaster, will your insurance pay to replace your roof?

In the wake of such damage, many homeowners wonder: Will insurance pay for a new roof? It's a complicated topic, and policies vary greatly. Here's what you'll need to know when it comes to paying for a new roof with insurance.

Wear and Tear vs. Dramatic Events

It's important to understand that all roofs have a natural life span, and almost no insurance policies cover standard wear and tear. In practice, this means that if your roof is leaking because it has not been maintained or inspected, you'll probably be out of luck. But if your roof is damaged because a tornado came through, you should be covered. The tougher question is: What about the things that fall in between?

Understand the Policy

It's essential to understand whether your policy is for replacement cost (which covers a new roof of similar quality) or cash value (which will pay the roof's value as it has depreciated over time). A cash value policy means that the older your roof is when it's damaged, the less insurance will pay, based on the logic that a roof replacement would soon be necessary anyway. Some roof conditions may even cause insurers to deem a roof "uninsurable," such as age beyond the material's standard life span or installation issues.

One quick tip: Snap photos of your roof now if it's in good shape. In the event of a dramatic event, these will give you clearly "before and after" photos.

Get Someone in Your Court

It's important to have a trusted source to turn to with questions about roofing and insurance. Most insurance companies don't go out of their way to frustrate homeowners, but they're not always easy to work with. Establish a relationship with a local insurance agent who can go to bat for you and help you judge whether a claim is acceptable.

In a similar vein, a roofing company that has experience with insurance claims can be an invaluable asset. They know what needs to be documented, have working relationships with the insurance adjusters in your area and understand the insurance payout process. An experienced roofing contractor can help walk you through the entire claim. A good contractor is especially valuable after a fire or other traumatic event, when you may not have the emotional energy to deal with red-tape or organize emergency repairs.

Immediate Repairs

Speaking of emergency repairs, it's important to stabilize a damaged roof as soon as possible. Sometimes called "drying in," a temporary fix can be as simple as tarps or plywood sheathing that protects the interior from the elements. This protection is essential, because many policies don't cover interior losses if the initial damage is not addressed in some way. It's also a good test to see how your roofing contractor responds when you need them the most.

Make the Most of It

In the end, will insurance pay for a new roof? It depends. A contractor can be helpful when deciding how to use the insurance money. A repair is often a great time to add a dormer or upgrade to a more attractive shingle. While you'll have to cover any additional work out-of-pocket, you can get more bang for your buck when there's other work already scheduled. A good contractor will help you navigate the choppy waters between crisis and opportunity.