Strong winds and storms can cause damage to a roof that can, if left unaddressed, result in further damage to the house. The roof of a house is designed to protect the interior from the elements, but if it is damaged, it can’t perform that function properly. Roof leaks can cause damage inside the house if they’re not caught in time. Most weather events that can cause roof damage are covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies, although there may be exceptions.
However, insurance companies are businesses interested in making a profit. Paying out large sums of money towards insurance claims decreases the profits the insurance company can make. Therefore, some insurance companies may act unscrupulously and deny claims in bad faith in order to make money.
If your roof has suffered damage that your insurance company refused to cover, you may have a case. Farah & Farah can help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t wait to contact us for your free consultation. You won’t have to pay a thing unless your case is successful.
What Types of Roofs Are There?
Roofs can be made out of a lot of different materials, each of which has its own pros and cons. Some roofing materials last longer and are more durable than others, but these roofs may cost a lot more money to install, making them less common. Even the most durable, long-lasting roofs can still be damaged in the wrong kind of weather. In Florida, the most common types of roofs are:
- Slate tiles
- Clay tiles
Each type of roofing can be damaged in different ways. Slate and clay tiles are durable but are also prone to cracking. Metal roofs can withstand wind better than other types of roofing materials but can be more expensive and may be more likely to be dented by hail.
What Can Cause Damage to a Roof?
A variety of weather events, from wind and rain to hail and hurricanes can damage a roof. Winds can also knock branches or even whole trees onto a roof, causing damage. Roofs can also be damaged from within by heat, smoke, and flames from a fire.
While most weather damage may be covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies, there are some exceptions. For example, the extreme winds from a hurricane may not be a covered peril in a hurricane-prone area like Florida and would instead require extra insurance coverage.
Because hail forms in the atmosphere, it doesn’t require a cold climate to form and can be a risk to a roof anywhere in the country. Hail can chip and crack tiles, damage shingles, and even dent durable metal roofs. Because hail can vary in size and shape, the severity of the damage can vary widely, from the cosmetic only to the leak-causing. Hail damage is typically covered by homeowners’ insurance policies.
Wind can damage a roof in a number of ways. Metal roofs are typically more resistant to high winds, even up to winds of 160 miles per hour, so they’re a popular option in Florida. However, they can be expensive to install, so many roofs are made of other materials that are more susceptible to wind damage. Wind can lift shingles and tiles if it’s strong enough. Another common danger of wind is tree branches and even entire trees being caught by the wind and knocked onto the roof.
Water doesn’t typically damage the roof itself but instead damages the interior of the house after other damage has already occurred to the roof. A roof that has a leak can end up causing a lot of damage to the interior of the house. Water can drip through the roof into the attic, onto ceilings, and damage both the structure of the house.
In Florida, hurricanes are a particular worry for homeowners. Hurricane season comes every year and it’s never known ahead of time how many hurricanes there might be or what kind of damage they could inflict. The high winds can damage roofs, knock trees and tree branches onto the roof, and cause leaks inside the house. Plus, hurricane damage also may not be covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies. Extra insurance specifically for hurricanes may be required, depending on where you live.
Lack of Maintenance
Roofs do require regular maintenance. If roofs aren’t maintained or are improperly maintained, that can put the roof at a higher risk for damage. If your roof is damaged because it hasn’t been properly maintained, your insurance company may deny your claim and you could be responsible for any repairs that were required. This may be the case even if the roof was damaged by a covered peril because the insurance company may assume the damage was worse because of the lack of maintenance.
A fire can cause a lot of damage to a roof, even if the fire isn’t located near it. Because of the heat and smoke, damage can occur distant from where the actual fire was. Even if the flames don’t burn a roof, the heat from the blaze can cause shingles to curl up, reducing their ability to protect the house from the weather. Tiles can crack under the pressure of heat. If there was a fire inside your house, even if it was nowhere near the roof, it’s important to inspect the roof for damage anyway.
What Does My Insurance Policy Cover?
A lot of the damage that can happen to a roof is covered under standard homeowners’ insurance policies. The following commonly covered perils that can damage a roof include:
- Wind-driven rain
- Falling objects
- Water damage
- Weight from snow, sleet, or ice
There are, of course, exceptions. Many homeowners’ insurance policies won’t cover floods or backup from sewers when it comes to water damage. For a roof, the following perils are commonly excluded from standard policies:
- Purposeful damage
- Lack of proper maintenance
- Certain roofing materials
- Old roof
It’s important to check your policy thoroughly so you know what is excluded and what is covered. You don’t want to expect damage to be covered only to find out the hard way that you needed extra insurance to cover that particular peril.
In Florida, damage from hurricanes is often excluded from standard homeowners’ insurance policies. There are typically additional insurance policies available that will cover the possible floods and storm surges as well as the extremely high-speed winds that can damage a house.
Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage from fire. However, if your home has items within it valued at more than what your insurance policy covers, fire insurance can provide more coverage. Most people don’t need extra fire insurance unless it’s a peril excluded from their policy or unless they need more coverage than what is available.
Repair vs. Replacement
Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover repairs over replacement. For certain types of damage, the repair is all that’s needed. Even if the damage to your roof means that the entire roof needs to be replaced, your insurance company may only cover repairs and may not cover the replacement. Whether or not a replacement is covered may depend on the insurance policy, so it’s important to read yours thoroughly.
What Is Florida’s Valued Policy Law?
Under Florida’s Valued Policy Law, if a home is a total loss but has been damaged by more than one peril, only one of which was covered, the insurance company may have to pay the full amount, within the limits of what the insurance policy covers, even though only a percentage of the damage was caused by the covered peril. This only applies to a total loss, however, and not to a partial loss, unless the damage was caused by fire.
What Is the Florida Building Code?
In Florida, the Building Code has a 25% rule. What this means is that if 25% or more of the roof or 25% of a roof segment needs repair, then the entire roof or segment must be replaced in order to meet the building code requirements. Because of this, homeowners in Florida may be entitled to a full replacement of a roof or segment of a roof if enough of it is damaged by a covered peril, even if the insurance policy prefers to cover repairs.
How Do I Make a Roofing Insurance Claim?
If your roof has been damaged, it’s important to make a claim with your insurance company first. If your claim is denied, then you can consider legal action. However, it’s important to follow the proper procedures for both documenting the damage and submitting the claim to your insurance company to avoid giving the insurance company any excuse to deny your claim.
Assess the Damage
The first step is to assess the damage to your roof. Especially if your roof is made of tile, which can crack or chip easily if it’s stepped in, it’s a good idea to hire a professional to inspect your roof. A professional can more safely assess the damage and also will know better what to look for and can help you determine the true extent of the damage and how much it will cost to repair or whether a replacement is needed.
The insurance company, once you make the claim, will want to send someone out to inspect the damage, but that adjuster may be biased in favor of the insurance company. An independent professional inspecting the roof can help you determine the true cost of the damage and may discover damage that the insurance company adjuster didn’t.
It’s also important to photograph all damage. You’ll want to be able to prove what damage occurred. This can help you make your claim and show that the damage was caused by a covered peril.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Before making a claim, you should thoroughly review your policy. You’ll want to know exactly what damage is covered by your policy, as well as any exclusions. Does your insurance company cover the peril that damaged your roof? Does your insurance company only repair or will it also cover replacement? The Florida Building Code 25% rule may mean that the insurance company has to cover a replacement regardless.
Notify Your Insurance Company
It’s important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible that you’re making a claim. Most insurance policies will cover only the damage from the peril itself. If you delay in making the claim and getting the necessary repairs done, more damage could occur. In the case of roof damage, a leak could cause water damage inside the house if it’s not repaired in a timely manner. It is unlikely that your insurance company would cover the costs of repairing the water damage that was a result of failing to repair quickly.
Keep Maintenance Records
Insurance companies may try to deny a claim if they believe the damage was caused by a lack of maintenance. Any time you have maintenance or other work is done on your roof, whether it’s to repair the damage that’s in the claim or not, keep detailed maintenance records. This can help you prove to your insurance company that you haven’t been failing to maintain your roof properly.
For your claim, keeping records can help you prove to your insurance company what you’ve already paid for and how much it cost. This can show that you’ve met your deductible if one exists in your policy, and how much your insurance company may need to reimburse you.
Why Was My Roofing Insurance Claim Denied?
Insurance companies are businesses first and foremost. This means that they may be looking for excuses to deny claims, even if they’re valid. While some claim denials are justified, many are done in bad faith by insurance companies looking to make a larger profit.
Disagreement About the Cause of the Damage
Because some perils are covered by your insurance policy and others are not, your insurance company may deny your claim because they say the damage was caused by something not covered by your policy. This is why it’s important to have an independent professional inspect the damage and to keep detailed records of the damage. Photographs and a professional inspection can help you prove that the damage was caused by a covered peril.
Failure to Meet Conditions
Your insurance policy may have specific requirements or conditions built into it that you have to meet in order to qualify for a claim. This may be regular maintenance, in the case of a roof. If the insurance company believes that you haven’t met the conditions of your policy, they could deny the claims.
Difference in Valuation
The insurance company may value the damage as less than what it actually is and try to pay less for it to be repaired. This is where a professional inspection will be useful. You can prove to your insurance company that the damage will cost more to repair than their estimate.
Partial Repair Instead of Replacement
Insurance companies may try to repair the roof instead of replacing it, even if a professional recommends a replacement. Thanks to the Florida Building Code’s 25% rule, however, the insurance company may be required to pay for a replacement, either of the entire roof or of a segment of the roof, depending on the extent of the damage.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If your roof has been damaged and your insurance company has denied your claim in bad faith, you may have a case. A lawyer can help you understand exactly what your insurance policy was supposed to cover and any laws relevant to your claim, such as the Valued Policy Law or the Building Code 25% rule. A lawyer can also help you fight the insurance company for the money that you deserve to repair the damage to your roof.
Farah & Farah’s legal team is comprised of highly qualified and skilled attorneys who are experienced with taking on insurance companies. Let us help you get the justice and compensation that you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible to arrange for your free consultation. You won’t have to pay anything unless your case is successful.