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What’s the Insurance Process to Replace a Storm-Damaged Roof?

November 20th, 2023 | 8 min. read

What’s the Insurance Process to Replace a Storm-Damaged Roof?

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You pay your homeowners insurance to protect your home, hoping you’ll never have to use it. But when you have to use it on a storm-damaged roof, the first and most commonly asked questions revolve around what’s covered, how much you’ll get, and the process. 

Unfortunately, not knowing these answers creates confusion, frustration, and the potential to be taken advantage of. You shouldn’t have to deal with this after paying years of insurance premiums. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has taken pride in guiding homeowners through getting their roofs replaced through insurance. That’s why I’ll break down what you need to know about getting a roof replacement through homeowners insurance.

This article answers the following questions:

  • Does homeowners insurance cover a roof replacement?
  • Will insurance cover the full cost of a roof replacement?
  • How does the homeowners insurance claim process work for roof damage?

Does homeowners insurance cover a roof replacement?

Insurance will cover a roof replacement in the event it was hit by an extreme weather event or a covered peril. This includes straight-line winds (aka damaging winds) during heavy thunderstorms, hail storms, snowstorms, or tornados. 

examples of wind damage, tree damage, and hail damage to asphalt shingles caused by storms(Left: wind damage; Top right: tree damage; Bottom right: hail damage)

They’ll also cover damage from fallen trees and limbs that fell on your roof during a storm. As long as there are no exclusions, your insurance will cover a roof replacement if the adjuster finds damage. 

Will homeowners insurance cover the full cost of a roof replacement?

While insurance will cover your roof replacement, it doesn’t mean they’ll cover the full cost. I know that may seem confusing and backward. 

However, getting the full cost of your roof replacement covered depends on your insurance policy.

Actual Cash Value policy

An Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy means the insurance company gives you the depreciated value of your roof at the time of the claim. This policy will never cover the full cost of a roof replacement, which means you're paying for the rest of it out-of-pocket. 

You can probably find a roofer willing to replace your roof for the amount an ACV policy gives you. However, I guarantee they can only do this by using cheap materials and labor

The low price may seem like a bargain at first, but you’re really just unknowingly setting your roof investment up for premature failure from the start.

Replacement Cost Value policy

A Replacement Cost Value (RCV) policy covers the full or most of the cost to replace your roof with a brand-new version of itself. Once approved, you’ll get a first check for the actual cost value while the insurance company holds back the recoverable depreciation.

After replacing your roof, you’ll get a second check after providing proof that it was done per the claim. Just keep in mind the insurance company will only pay to restore your new roof to a brand-new version of itself.

This means if you want to add upgrades, like going from 3-tab asphalt shingles to architectural asphalt shingles, you must make up the cost difference out-of-pocket. 

How does the homeowners insurance claim process work for roof damage?

Now that you know homeowners insurance covers a roof replacement in the event of storm damage, you need to know the actual process. Below is the process from identifying roof damage to getting your roof replaced through insurance. 

For the process example, we’ll assume you have an RCV policy. 

Get photo documentation of roof damage after the storm

The first thing you need to do when your roof suffers storm damage is to gather evidence to determine you have a viable claim. While this doesn’t guarantee approval, it helps determine if it’s worth starting the insurance process.

The best way to do this is by photo-documenting the signs of roof damage. For wind damage, look for missing, creased, or sliding shingles while walking around your property. 

hail damage to screen door, downspout, and wooden shutter (Collateral hail damage)

For hail damage, look for collateral damage on the objects at the ground level to learn if your roof was possibly impacted.

Below are the following areas to check for collateral hail damage:

  • Dents in downspouts (Above 5 feet, so it can’t be blamed on a lawnmower)
  • Dings or strikes to your garage door
  • Holes in your window screens 
  • Dings to any painted wood or shutters 
  • Splatter marks or dings to your electric meter, AC unit, or grill 
  • Dents to your mailbox and other soft metals on your property
  • Loose asphalt granules on the ground by downspouts

You can also get on your roof to look for more obvious damage. However, I recommend only looking for and documenting roof damage from the ground for safety reasons. 

Get a storm damage roof inspection 

The next step is getting a storm damage roof inspection to determine if you have a viable claim. I recommend contacting your insurance company first so you’re following their process, but you can also call a roofing contractor first to double-check for damage before filing a claim.

Either way, an insurance adjuster and roofing contractor must perform their own inspections. Whoever goes out there first will mark roof areas with missing shingles, granule loss, hail marks, dents in metal, and anything else with chalk. 

hail damage to 3 tab asphalt shingles marked with chalk

This simply makes it easier to see the damage and creates clear reference points when reviewing your claim. After marking the roof damage, they’ll take pictures of everything to submit to the insurance company. 

They’ll also look for and document any signs of collateral damage on the ground like you did earlier. Just know that I recommend having your roofing contractor there for the adjuster appointment, even if the roofer already did their inspection. 

lifted architectural asphalt shingles caused by wind damage (Hidden wind damage)

This is because your adjuster isn’t a professional roofer and can potentially miss things because they don’t know where or what to look for. It’s also nice to have someone on your side and advocating for you.

After the inspection, it’s up to the adjuster to approve your claim. Just know you have options if your claim is initially denied

Receive an estimate for your roof replacement

Once your claim is approved, you’ll get an estimate for the scope of work from the insurance company for your roof replacement. Your roofing contractor must follow this scope of work exactly to ensure you get the recoverable depreciation to cover the full cost. 

Unfortunately, a roofer can rarely do the job for the initial amount insurance offers. This is because most insurance estimates leave off items needed and important things businesses need to stay open, like overhead and profit. 

To get the full cost covered, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to ensure you get everything covered by supplementing your claim. But if you’re happy with the payout and don’t want to deal with supplementing, you’ll pay your deductible plus the difference in the estimates.

Get your storm-damaged roof replaced

After signing your estimate, it’s time to get your roof replaced by the roofing contractor of your choice. You’ll get the first ACV check from the insurance company to cover your deposit, and the roofer will schedule your roof replacement. 

They’ll look over the insurance paperwork to ensure they follow it correctly before the job then get to work. After your roof is replaced, they’ll take photo documentation to prove it was done per the claim and submit it to the insurance company. 

If everything checks out, you’ll get the recoverable depreciation check to give to the roofing contractor that covers the rest or most of the remaining cost. Just know that you must pay your own deductible, no matter what a roofer may say. 

How do you avoid roof damage scams and fraud? 

There you have it: the process to replace your storm-damaged roof through homeowners insurance. While the process may seem pretty quick on paper, it’s actually known to drag out and takes patience to ensure you get everything you're owed. 

Unfortunately, storms bring out the worst in the roofing industry. Scams and fraud are rampant when it comes to insurance claims for roof damage. 

Even worse, they’re never caught until it’s too late, and you’re on the hook. So, before filing a claim or letting a roofer get on your roof, you need to protect yourself. 

That’s why I wrote another article with tips to help you avoid the common storm damage insurance scams. 

Check out 6 Tips to Avoid Roof Damage Insurance Scams to ensure you don’t fall victim to the bad side of the roofing industry.

storm damage checklist

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