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Should You File a Roof Insurance Claim? When to File a Claim for Your Roof

Sarah Kessler
January 15, 2024

Your roof is your home’s most important line of defense against water, wind, and the elements. When your roof is compromised, your entire home is at risk of incurring major damage that can be hard to repair. 

But what should you do when you suspect your roof is damaged? Is it best to file a roof insurance claim, or should you just dive in and pay for the repairs yourself? 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the various signs that indicate that it’s time to file a claim, as well as some situations where it might be best to pay for the repairs yourself.

In this article: 

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Filing a Roof Insurance Claim: Understand Your Coverage

First and foremost, it’s essential to have a good grasp of your home insurance coverage. 

Look specifically at the sections that cover roof damage, and identify what’s covered or excluded under your policy. Due to the rise in storm damage many insurance providers are re-writing and updating their policies so it is important to keep up to date on your policy terms.

You might find out right away that the cause of your roof damage excludes you from filing a claim.

Avoidable vs. unavoidable damage

If you’re wondering in general if your specific situation might be covered by your home insurance, consider whether the damage was avoidable or unavoidable. 

Insurance companies tend not to cover damage that was avoidable. Unavoidable damage increases your chances of having your roof insurance claim approved. Unavoidable damage is also often called acts of God in an insurance policy.

  • Avoidable damage is anything that could have and should have been prevented with proper roof or home maintenance. For example, damage to the roof caused by clogged gutters likely won’t be covered because it was avoidable with proper gutter maintenance. 
  • Unavoidable damage or an "act of God" includes things like storm damage that are not within your control as a homeowner. If you took all the proper precautions to prevent storm-related roof damage and still experienced roof damage as a result of a storm, your claim is more likely to be approved. Unavoidable damage can also be caused by fire.

Your deductible

Another key factor to look at if you’re considering filing a roof insurance claim is your deductible. 

The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your homeowner’s insurance kicks in to cover repairs. 

For example, if the repairs to your roof will cost $3000 and you have a high deductible  around $2,000 to $4000, your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover any of the cost of repairs, even if the claim is accepted. 

When the cost of repairs are less than your deductible, you have two options: 

  • File the roof insurance claim anyway. If you think the claim will be approved, you can file the claim anyway. This can be to your benefit because you’ll pay down your deductible, meaning if there are additional repairs within the premium period, those will be covered.
  • Pay for repairs yourself without filing a claim. You can also choose to forgo filing a roof insurance claim and simply pay out of pocket. This can be beneficial if the claim isn’t likely to be approved or if you’re worried about increasing your premiums.

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Limitations of homeowner’s insurance

Keep in mind that the purpose of homeowner’s insurance is to help you restore your home to the condition it was in before the unavoidable damage occurred

In terms of a roof claim, that means that, if your roof was already old and in need of replacement, your insurance isn’t likely to pay in entirety for a brand-new roof. 

Instead, it will pay an amount that represents the difference between your roof’s worth now and its worth before the covered damage occurred. If you pay for replacement cost coverage, your insurance may cover more of a replacement. 

For more information on this, read our guide on how to get insurance to pay for a roof replacement.

ACV vs. RCV Coverage

When it comes to whether or not you should file a claim, it's important to know whether you have ACV or RCV coverage. ACV (Actual Cash Value) and RCV (Replacement Cost Value) are two different types of coverage that can impact the amount you receive for your claim.

  1. ACV (Actual Cash Value): ACV takes into account the age and condition of your roof at the time of the damage. It considers depreciation, meaning you may receive a payout that is less than the cost of a new roof. This type of coverage is generally cheaper in terms of premiums.
  2. RCV (Replacement Cost Value): RCV provides coverage for the full cost of replacing your roof with a similar, new roof. Depreciation is not factored in, so you receive a higher payout. RCV coverage typically has higher premiums compared to ACV, but it's worth the extra cost for many homeowners. You typically have to ask for RCV coverage specifically.

When to File a Roof Insurance Claim

Now let’s look at some specific conditions under which you should consider filing a roof insurance claim: 

A roofing contractor recommends it 

Whenever you have damage to your roof, your first stop should be a professional roofing contractor. 

They will come inspect your roof damage, give you an estimate, and make a recommendation about whether or not you should file a roof insurance claim. 

The damage was unavoidable or an Act of God

Read through your policy documentation to find out exactly what your homeowner’s insurance carrier considers “avoidable” and “unavoidable” damage. 

Typically, you’ll be able to tell whether the damage to your roof was avoidable or unavoidable with some basic common sense. 

The damage is extensive

More extensive damage typically warrants a roof insurance claim, while minor damage may or may not. The best way to determine whether the damage is minor or more extensive is to work with a roofing contractor. 

Sometimes, seemingly minor damage can be more extensive or have unseen effects on the structure of your home. Water can travel a great distance from the entry point.

The cost of repairs exceeds your deductible 

As mentioned above, your deductible can affect whether or not you choose to file a claim. If the cost of repairs doesn’t exceed the deductible, that doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t file a claim. 

However, it’s a good factor to consider, and if repairs do exceed this amount, it’s another checkmark in the “file a claim” column. 

You haven’t filed any claims recently

Filing too many claims that get denied in quick succession can lead to your premiums increasing dramatically or even your insurance carrier dropping you. Read our guide on what to do if you're homeowner's insurance is cancelled because of your roof if this happens to you.

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When to Pay for Roof Damage Yourself

If you’re considering skipping the claims process and paying for repairs yourself, consider whether these apply to your situation. 

The repairs are minor

Again, it’s essential to verify whether or not the repairs are truly minor or if the damage could be creating more elusive problems. A roofing contractor can help you make this determination. 

If, however, you’re confident that the repairs are minor, such as a few missing or damaged shingles, you can feel confident covering those repairs yourself without filing a roof insurance claim. 

You have a high deductible

If you pay a low premium for homeowners insurance, chances are you have a high deductible. If the repairs are significantly less costly than the amount of your deductible, you may consider skipping the claims process. 

You’ve made several claims recently

Filing too many claims within a short period of time can have negative consequences on your homeowner’s insurance premiums or even lead to the carrier dropping you as a policyholder.

The damage was avoidable

If you know that the damage to your roof was the result of something avoidable, it’s typically best not to file a claim and risk having it denied. 

Does Filing a Claim Increase Your Rates? 

Filing a roof insurance claim doesn't necessarily guarantee an increase in your rates. Insurance companies typically evaluate rate increases based on several factors, including the frequency and severity of claims. If you have a history of multiple claims or if the claim amount is significant, it might impact your rates.

However, a single claim, especially for a legitimate reason like roof damage from a storm, might not have a significant impact on your rates. Insurance companies understand that unexpected events happen, and they generally assess the overall risk profile of the policyholder.

It's always a good idea to check with your insurance provider to understand their specific policies and how filing a claim may affect your rates in your particular situation.

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When to File a Roof Insurance Claim: FAQs

Deciding whether or not to file a roof insurance claim can be complicated, so it’s understandable if you still have questions. 

Ultimately, your best course of action is to seek the guidance of a professional roofing contractor in your area who can help you determine whether you should file a claim or not.

Here are some of the most common questions about whether or not you should file a roof insurance claim.

My roof is old and has some missing shingles. Should I file a claim?

It depends on the age and condition of your roof. If the missing shingles are due to normal wear and tear, your claim might be denied. However, if the missing shingles are the result of storm damage, hail, or another covered peril, you may have a valid claim. Consider the cost of repairs versus your deductible and potential premium increase before making a decision.

I have a leak, but it's just a small stain in my attic. Is it worth filing a claim?

Even a small leak can indicate underlying damage and lead to bigger problems later. It's best to get it checked by a qualified roofer and consider filing a claim if the leak is caused by a covered peril like wind damage or defective shingles. Remember, early intervention can prevent costly repairs down the road.

My roof is sagging, but I don't see any obvious damage. Should I be worried?

A sagging roof is a serious structural issue and requires immediate attention. Don't wait for further damage before acting. Contact your insurance company and schedule a roof inspection to determine the cause and potential coverage for repairs.

I heard filing a claim can lead to my insurance company dropping me. Is that true?

Repeated claims within a short period or for minor issues might raise red flags for your insurer. However, a single claim for significant damage caused by a covered peril is unlikely to lead to cancellation. Always be transparent with your insurance company and only file valid claims.

How can I tell if my roof damage is covered by my insurance?

Carefully review your homeowner's insurance policy, specifically the section on roof coverage and covered perils. If you're unsure, contact your insurance agent or a qualified roofing contractor familiar with insurance claims. They can help you understand your coverage and determine if your damage qualifies.

I'm worried about my deductible. Should I just pay for repairs myself?

Weigh the costs carefully. If the repair cost is significantly higher than your deductible and the damage is minor, paying yourself might be an option. 

However, for extensive repairs or major damage, filing a claim can help minimize your financial burden. Consider your long-term financial situation and risk tolerance before making a decision.

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Filing a Roof Insurance Claim vs. Paying Yourself in Maryland

Remember that these are general guidelines, and each situation is unique. Consult with professionals like roofers and insurance agents before making any decisions about filing a claim. They can provide expert advice specific to your circumstances and help you navigate the process with confidence.

If you live in Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area, call Capitol Improvements to schedule a roof inspection right away. 

Capitol Improvements is an award-winning residential and commercial roofing provider in the Washington D.C. area with more than 30 years of experience in roof repair. We offer flexible financing to help you fix your roof now, rather than later.

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