Is Your Roof Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?

The windstorm, and previous ice storm, a month earlier in 2018; resulted in multi-millions of dollars of interior and exterior damage to scores of homes and businesses through the Greater Toronto area.

Such weather events left many people wondering if they were covered for the resulting damages. For many; insurers responded quickly to mitigate damages by authorizing homeowners to get temporary roof repairs and to gather estimates for roof replacement or permanent repairs. The system became quickly overwhelmed. Insurance companies, insurance general contractors, and roofing contractors were instantly flooded with thousands of requests for service from the general public.

While many people received compensation for their roof and siding damages; there were many home and business owners left holding the bag, so to speak.

Related Content: What to do if roof shingles get blown away?

Three primary reasons for roof insurance claims that were denied. 

The number one reason is that the roofs that were in excess of 20 years old, and or, were in poor condition prior to the storm event.

The second reason for denial was shingle roofing jobs that were not completed in accordance with manufacturer requirements. Specifically; that shingles were not nailed in the correct area (nailing zone); which served to compromise wind up-lift standards. Such jobs were high nailed, low nailed, or under-nailed, as determined by those tasked with inspections on behalf of the insurer.

This left homeowners reliant on their roofing companies warranty for workmanship. Guess what? A number of the companies never responded to the homeowner, or were out of business. Certain homeowners who had paid in cash for their roofs, were genuinely surprised when no one responded to their phone calls and e-mails. The next problem became demonstrating to their insurer that they actually paid to replace their roofs. (Caviat- Emptor- “Let the buyer beware”).

The third reason for denied claims was that some property owners did not have the appropriate level of coverage. While properties that have a mortgage are usually required to have such coverage in the event of loss; some people did not have such endorsements. The moral of the story being; it is best to review policies on an annual basis and to check that one has sufficient coverage. Sufficient coverage of particular perils that may be assumed to be included, but sometimes are not.

As examples; the occurrence of ice damming which can result in interior damage; may be covered by the insurer to cover specifically the interior damage, but may not include the costs associated with ice removal or roof repairs needed to combat the issue.

Another example can be the use of the roof space. One client was denied coverage because the tenants used the flat roof space as a deck space. The insurer would not cover the cost of the decking to be removed and replaced after the needed roofing work was completed.

Another denial of coverage was based on the fact that the flat roof was in poor condition, having been re-roofed over several times, and because garbage and broken bottles were evidence that the roof was not maintained, and that steps were not taken to keep traffic off the roof.

Other steps the home or building owner can take to improve their chances of ever having a claim denied; should include:

  • Take annual photos of the roof (dated); to demonstrate pre-loss conditions.
  • Have the roof inspected annually and obtain a report from the roofer or consultant testifying to the condition of the roof, and its related components like exterior gutters and interior drain.
  • Keep your paperwork / written warranties; when investing in roof replacement or repairs.
  • Review your existing coverage as it pertains to the roof, and identify specifically what is, or is not covered.
  • Upgrade your insurance to cover any gaps in coverage that may exist.
  • Find out what responsibilities your insurer requires from you, to keep coverage reliable.

Related Content: Filing an insurance claim for storm damage to your roof.

What kind of roof-related coverage a person may require can vary, depending on their specific needs. The following are a list of perils that can serve as a checklist when reviewing with your broker or insurance company:

  • animal damage /intrusion
  • damage to the roof from ice /snow ( examples: ice backup /roof caves in from snow load)
  • hail damage
  • wind damage
  • tree damage
  • fire damage
  • mischief/vandalism roof damage
  • roof flood damage
  • drain pipe damage below the roof grade ( flat roofs)
  • interior repairs/replacement resulting from roof damage
  • temporary accommodations
  • business interruption /lost income
  • tenants using the roof as living space
  • considerations for green roofs
  • consideration for solar panels (removal, re-installation, replacement)
  • contents damage/replacement
  • mould abatement from water ingress
  • faulty workmanship

When reviewing one’s insurance policy as it relates to the roof, it is important to find out if there is full replacement value covered, or if the policy covers loss only on a pro-rated basis.

Also to understand is that a home or building owner needs to take responsibility for keeping their roofing assets current and in good order. It is important to consider that the roof protects for many;  what is their most valuable asset.

When purchasing a property, or changing insurers; the subject of the roof’s condition will typically come up. Many insurers insist that a roof be replaced if the roof is greater than 15 years old, in order for them to extend coverage. Of course, this is designed to mitigate risk on their behalf.

Related Content: Emergency roof repairs in the GTA during winter.

If a home or building owner viewed it in the same way; they would also be mitigating their own risk of loss and unplanned expense. The old adage “ you get what you pay for” becomes particularly true when it comes to the subject of roofing.

For those who have never had to make a roof related insurance claim, the process typically goes like this:

  • The client notifies the insurer of the loss, and an adjuster or adjuster’s delegate is dispatched to view the extent and nature of the damage.
  • The insurance company will likely dispatch an insurance restoration contractor who may work to dry out the interior and estimate the costs associated with restoring the loss, to pre-loss conditions.
  • Often the insurance general contractor will dispatch their preferred roofer to evaluate that component of the work. When catastrophic loss situations occur; insurers may enlist roofing companies outside the realm of their generals, to assist with claims assessment and pricing for repairs/replacements.
  • When possible; many insurers will try to provide a settlement offer to their clients. This means the insured may select their own vendors to complete needed work.
  • In some instances, the insurer will undertake to have their “preferred vendors” complete the work. This is either based on a premium type of policy that a client has purchased, or because of timing requirements to mitigate the loss.
  • Insurers and their associated vendors typically use a platform called Xactimate™, which essentially is a database of prices for most types of trade work., based on regional pricing. This is what the insurer uses as stable data to determine the price they are willing to pay for the delivery of work related to the claim. In some instances, the pricing is fair market value, but where roofing work is concerned; it may not reflect the reality of today’s labour costs or unique site conditions. As a result; the homeowner or building owner is encouraged to obtain pricing from reputable, experienced roofing vendors independent of the insurer. This will ensure that before settling a claim; they are actually receiving the amount of compensation that adequately covers the work at hand.

To learn more about insurance-related roof claims, inspection reports and damage assessments; visit: