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Just last month my parents came home one Saturday afternoon during the middle of a windstorm to find water pouring in through the master bedroom ceiling thanks to a leak in the roof. Instantly they reacted, and called my brother out to tarp the roof.  Meanwhile my mother was inside frantically trying to clean up and mitigate the damage to the interior.  Unfortunately it was too late and the damage was done.  Even though my folks were gone only 2 hours, there was enough water to cause damage in the attic, the ceiling and to the bedroom furniture.  At least they had insurance to reimburse them right?  Well unfortunately this situation went from soggy to worse!

After calling their agent they were informed that their policy had a provision that water damage is only covered when there is an actual opening created in the roof or where shingles are missing. In their case no shingles were missing but water was able to pour in where the shingles were no longer sealed down. This is a provision that is commonly written into many homeowner policies in the “Losses We Do Not Cover” section. Unfortunately for many homeowners that don’t read or understand all the small print in the 75 page policy document, they often find out about this too late.  In many cases, including my parents, the actual interior damage  ended up costing more than the roof replacement itself! Their claim was denied by their insurance company and now they were out of pocket for both a new roof and all the interior damage.  My parent’s roof that was damaged was 15 years old, and while rated for a 25 year life expectancy by the manufacturer it was no longer sealed down tight enough to withstand the wind and the water that followed.  At that point it was considered a maintenance issue that they as homeowners must address.  

With ever changing insurance policy language, you have to be aware of what risks you carry.  It’s not only wind driven rain that could cost you but also snow and ice dams in the winter that can leave you with an expensive out of pocket losses.

What did my parents learn from this?  Well number one, they would recommend that anyone who has a roof on the back side of its life expectancy to get it replaced with a new lifetime warrantied shingle installed by an established local roofer.  When you are working with your selected contractor talk to them about opportunities to install other upgrades that will enhance your roof system and keep you dry.  Number two, communicate with your agent.  Make sure you TRULY understand what is covered and what is not before it’s too late.  When it’s time to replace your roof, be sure to ask your agent about possible insurance premium discounts that would be available to you, when you install certain types of roofing.  

By replacing your roof that is nearing the end of it’s life expectancy, you can avoid the headaches and out of pocket expenses of an uninsured loss, and also save yourself money when paying those monthly insurance premiums!