How your roof factors into your insurance costs

Your roof is more important than you think

Your roof is more important than you think

Your Roof and your Homeowners Insurance

How the age type and condition of your roof can affect your pocket book.

What do you mean my roof can factor into my home insurance costs?   An Insurance company may decline my home because of my roof?  I might not be able to pass an insurance inspection because of how my shingles look?  Yes, yes, and Yes. After all your home’s roof is physically covering something that the Insurance Carrier is / will be insuring.  It sits atop the house to protect it and keep the heat in, it keeps you warm safe and snugly in the winter and keeps you cool and shaded in the summer.  We all know It protects your home from rain, but it also protects your home from sleet, snow, wind, hail, cold temperatures, and even fire in certain situations (like wildfire).  So the age, type / configuration, and condition of your roof can be of importance to an insurance company and ultimately change the price you pay.  In homeowners insurance is most likely going to be an issue when you apply for or reapply for insurance with a new or different carrier. However, that is not always the case.   In this piece we will review the three important characteristics  (age, type, and condition) of your roof and ell you a bit about the types of roofs that they prefer not to insure.


Why does the age of your roof matter to an insurance company? What is the age of a roof that they do want?  Insurance companies are also attuned not just to the building material but also the age of the roof.  Many asphalt shingle roofs have a 30 year life span.  Once you are nearing that 30 year time frame, your best bet may be to replace the roof, before you go shopping for insurance.   Why?  Mostly because as the roof ages the home is more likely to be damaged and therefore leak or tear apart.   Other than the possible initial faulty workmanship issues that one could encounter, newer roofs are less inclined to have serious problems and allow damage.  One very important note here is that different roof materials have different claimed life spans.   Metal roofs for instance often are 50 year roofs, while asphalt shingles more like 30 years.  Flat tar and gravel type roofs sometimes are as low as ten years or so.  I would advise you speak with a licensed (and insured) roofer for more information.  In regards to the question, what is the age of the roof they prefer?  Well, a new roof is usually the best answer.

 Type and Configuration

How can the type of roof you have affect your insurance rate?

There are really two aspects of the type of roof:  The material used and the shape and configuration of the roof.

In California, there are a multitude of roof materials, they include: Asphalt Shingle Tiles,  Slate and Stone Tiles,  Ceramic Tiles, Metal, Tar and Gravel, and various thermoplastic roofs.  There are many many other types.   One of the new ones that we are starting to see is Solar Tiles.    Slate and other stone roofs are starting to become more popular as well.

 The shape of the roof may to a lesser extent be used by insurance companies as well.   Roofs can be broken down into flat and pitched roofs.  Flat roofs are obvious and are more often found in large commercial buildings, although homes use them as well.  Pitched or slanted roofs can come in all sorts of angles, shapes, sizes, and configurations.  It is beyond the scope of this piece to either explain or demonstrate the value of different configurations of pitched roofs, none the less it is important to understand that certain roof shapes may be advantageous to protect some homes against certain perils in some areas and other areas may have different best configurations.  For example a high pitched roof is an obvious defenses in certain high snowfall areas from the risk of roof collapse from the direct weight of snow fall.   A metal roof in general provides probably more protection from a forest fire than a wooden roof.  Certain roofs may defend against the wind in a better way.  All roofs have various positives and negatives.

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Why is the condition of your roof important to an insurance company?  Similar in a sense to the age of your roof, the condition may indicate how much the home has been cared for and loved.   Unlike the age though, the condition of the roof can be a bit harder for an insurance company or an insurance broker to ascertain.    An insurance agent may be required to report on the roof and submit photos along with the initial application.  The insurance company may have a voluntary or mandatory physical inspection of your house and therefore they make look at the roof.  What exactly are the insurance companies looking for to indicate the roof is in bad condition is far too difficult to explain in a blog post, none the less a blue tarp over the roof, is almost never considered a good sign.  Also missing or broken tiles, boards, or similar signs of needed repair are certain red flags.

What Type of Roofs do  Insurance Companies not like

There are certain types of roofs that insurance companies do not much like in my experience, such as wood shake tiles.  (I’m certain that there are other brokers in other parts of the country with different experiences). Why don’t insurance companies like Wood Shake Tiles?  In my experience, Insurance companies do not like them because they are a fire danger, especially when that house is on or near a wild land forest fire area, we have many of those in California and during times of drought they may be even more dangerous.    Insurance companies do not like roofs typically that are nearing the end of their stated life cycle, in other words, year 29 or a 30 year roof, certainly year 35 of a 30 year roof.  Insurance companies occasionally may not like certain roof material/ roof configuration combinations, this is probably much rarer.

What to do if you have an old or broken roof.   How to insure and older roof?

What should you do if you have an old, broken, or otherwise undesirable home roof?   Obviously you should work on upgrading/ replacing it to a newer and better condition and even change the material above your home.   In the mean time you may will still need to insure the house with the older roof and if your current home insurer will not accept it in its present condition, you and your home may be a candidate for non standard homeowners policy.  But before you jump to that, I would advise that you reach out to other brokers and or agents to first attempt to find a standard insurer that will accept the home in its’ present condition. If several of them decline the property, you should consider the non standard route.  What is a non standard homeowner policy?   Contact us and we will be more than happy to explain.   Marindependent Insurance Services LLC can assist you in aligning your home first off with a standard insurer and then reviewing secondary and later options.

 What Else you need to know

Lots, including the difference between actual value and replacement value when getting an insurance quote as this can be a huge difference with regards to your roof, especially if it is an older roof.   Read up on some of the other common questions that we get.  However, this is slightly a different topic.  Also, as with all internet content, kindly see our disclosures and seek a licensed Insurance broker or agent in your state if you are considering getting or changing insurance or insurance carriers.

So those are the answers to the follow three questions: 1. Why does the age of your roof matter to an insurance company? 2. How can the type of roof you have affect your insurance rate? and 3. Why is the condition of your roof important to an insurance company? Hopefully I was able to give you a bit of background on Insurance, Homes, and Roofs from an independent insurance broker’s perspective.  I appreciate and welcome helpful and insightful comments. Kindly follow us on twitter, sign up for blog updates, or contact us with more specific questions about home insurance in California.

Marindependent Broker Agent

Marindependent Broker Agent

 Scott W Johnson Principal Broker Agent – California license 0H11625 – Marindependent Insurance Services LLC – 0K10734 – Independent in Marin County California – Independent Broker Agent