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Roof Damage | Insurance

Will Missing Roof Shingles Cause a Roof Leak?

June 15th, 2022 | 6 min. read

Will Missing Roof Shingles Cause a Roof Leak?

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Finding missing shingles in your yard or seeing them missing from your roof is shocking. Naturally, your first worry is that water will get into your home.  

I understand this is stressful and you’re probably constantly checking the weather forecast for rain. But is this stress worth it? Do missing roof shingles immediately cause a roof leak? 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped countless homeowners understand how roof damage impacts their home and wallet. Because of this, I’ll help you understand what missing roof shingles means to you. 

This article covers:

  • If missing roof shingles cause a leak.
  • What to do about missing roof shingles.
  • How to potentially turn missing roof shingles into a full roof replacement.

Will missing roof shingles cause a roof leak?

While it may eventually happen, missing roof shingles shouldn't cause a roof leak immediately. But it all depends on the amount missing, how long they’ve been missing, and how much rain you get. 

missing roof shingles on a 3-tab asphalt roof

A leak won't happen immediately because of the way shingles are installed. Plus water also has to get through the underlayment and roof decking before it gets into your home.

But if left exposed long enough, a leak will happen and the wood that makes up the decking will rot. On the other hand, your roof could leak pretty quickly if there are nail pops around the missing shingles.

Water will catch these lifted nails and follow them down into the inside of your home. No matter what, you should contact your roofing contractor as soon as you notice missing shingles.

You’ll have a better idea of the extent of the damage and the next steps to take after their roof inspection.  

What should you do about missing roof shingles?

Now you know missing roof shingles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a leak immediately. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of the problem right away. 

Let’s get to what you should do about missing roof shingles. 

Replace the missing roof shingles

The first (and most obvious) option is to replace the missing shingles. To do this, you should first contact the roofing company that installed the roof.

shingle and ridge capping patch(Shingle and ridge capping patch)

If your workmanship warranty is still applicable, the roofing contractor should replace them at no cost to you. If your warranty is expired, you’ll have to pay to replace the missing shingles. 

Just know that this situation usually caused by improper installation. This means that the roofer didn’t install the shingles correctly and should take care of the problem with no questions asked. 

While this scenario does happen, missing roof shingles are usually caused by extreme weather. Which takes us to the option. 

File a claim with your insurance company for the missing roof shingles

Straight-line winds are usually the main culprit of missing roof shingles. But luckily, your roof is protected by your homeowners insurance if wind damage causes missing shingles. 

That’s why the second option to take care of missing roof shingles is to file an insurance claim. To do this, contact your insurance company to start the claim process. 

After talking to them, they’ll either send out an adjuster or have you contact a roofing company for a storm damage roof inspection. If there’s clear evidence of wind damage, you should have no problem getting your claim approved. 

But the insurance adjuster has all the power in this situation. Even if a roofing contractor says wind damage is the cause of the missing roof shingles, the adjuster has the final say on whether the claim is approved or not.

Just know that your insurance company won’t cover a roof that was improperly installed. If this happens, you’ll have to go back to the first option. 

How to turn a few missing roof shingles into a full roof replacement

Now you know what to do about missing roof shingles. Remember, wind damage is usually the cause of missing roof shingles and you may have a claim. 

Unfortunately, there are times when the insurance company only pays to replace the area of missing shingles. When this happens, you can utilize the shingle matching law to turn a few missing shingles into a full roof replacement. 

This specific insurance law ensures that your home won't have an unsightly appearance after the damage is taken care of.

According to Law 0780-01-05-.10(1)(b):

"When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color, or size, the insurer shall replace items so as to conform to a reasonably uniform appearance according to the applicable policy provisions. This applies to interior and exterior losses. The insured shall not bear any cost over the applicable deductible, if any."

In layman’s terms, your insurance company must pay for everything to match in appearance on your insurance claim. For missing roof shingles specifically, the law ensures there will be no unsightly patches on your roof due to new shingles not matching your current shingles. 

shingle matching comparison(Left: Perfect shingle match, Right: Non-matching shingle)

Because of this, the insurance company must replace your entire roof if the shingle currently on your roof is no longer available, discontinued, or out of production. Even if the shingle is available, the color might not match because of the wear and tear your roof has gone through. 

No matter what, if there are no shingles that match up perfectly with your current roof, the insurance company will have to pay to replace your roof. Unfortunately, matching laws are on a state-by-state basis, and some insurance policies even exclude it completely. 

So, look at your policy and make sure your state has a matching law before going further. 

What do you need to know about filing an insurance claim for missing roof shingles?

After reading this article, you know what to do about missing roof shingles. If your roof is still under warranty and there haven't been strong storms, contact your roofing contractor to take care of the situation. 

On the other hand, you should have an insurance claim if wind damage caused the missing shingles. And if insurance only approves replacing the missing shingles, you know how the shingle matching laws can lead to a full roof replacement. 

But utilizing the shingle matching law through the ITEL process should be a last resort. The truth is, a lot has to happen before it even gets to that point. 

That’s why you need to learn as much as you can about the insurance claim process. To help you understand what you’re about to get into, I wrote another article breaking down 5 things every homeowner needs to know about the insurance process. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roofing services and roof damage insurance claim assistance to thousands of homeowners in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas since 1990. When you work with us, you’ll never have to worry about your roof again. 

Here are the 5 Things You Need to Know About the Insurance Process for Roof Damage to help you understand what to expect when filing a claim.

storm damage checklist

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