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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How Does Your Roof Rate?

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy pikrepo
A roof is one of those things that most people take for granted until water starts dripping through their ceiling or a water stain appears like magic after a sudden storm.  Being out of sight and out of mind, hardly anybody ever thinks twice about their roof until it starts to leak.  And that’s a shame, since the roof over your head does a lot more than keep the rain off.  It literally protects you, your family, your furnishings and all your expensive electronics from wind, rain and the ravages of the sun.  It also keeps the wooden bones of your home from rotting.  If properly maintained, a roof should last between 20-30 years on average. 

When was the last time you took a look at your roof?
With the exception of tornadoes and Category 4&5 hurricanes, very seldom does a roof fail all at once.  Usually what happens is that shingles become warped and eventually lost due to wind and weather, or the flashing around your chimney will succumb to the elements to let water trickle past.  Occasionally, squirrels or rats will gnaw their way through a roof into the attic.  Unfortunately, most roof damage isn’t always apparent from the ground.  To assess the condition of your roof usually requires someone to climb up a ladder to walk atop it.Once up there a few things will become apparent:

Image courtesy Public Domain Pictures
Newer shingles will flex under foot while older ones that are on their last legs will crunch.

      2.      Missing or warped shingles pop up like a sore thumb to anyone atop the roof.

      3.      So too does soft spots that reside beneath the shingles and are a sure sign of rot.

      4.      Damaged caulking and/or peeling flashing that’s almost impossible to see from the ground is easy to spot up close.

The secret to longevity in a roof is to inspect and repair damage before a leak creates further damage inside your home.  While some repairs can be done by a homeowner, if your roof is high pitched, it’s better to pay a roofer to fix it then risk taking a tumble.

What else can you do to improve your roof’s longevity?

While sun, wind and weather can damage a roof, there are other factors that should also be taken into consideration:

Image courtesy flickr
      1.      If trees go unchecked, it won’t be long before limbs begin to come into contact with the shingles.  When that happens and the wind begins to blow, tree limbs will begin to scour, scrape and loosen the shingles.  Given enough time and wind, as happens during most thunderstorms, tree limbs can dislodge and cast off loose shingles with ease.

      2.      Clogged gutters can also undermine your roof by adding weight to the eaves or allowing water to slip beneath the shingles that line the periphery of the roof.

      3.      Rodents can and will gnaw on shingles and siding to gain entry to your attic.  Since gradual damage caused by rodents isn’t covered by most insurance policies and the damage they can do is considerable, if you spot signs of this, it’s advisable to have a barrier installed that rodent teeth can’t gnaw through.

What kind of roof damage is covered by a homeowner’s policy?

Just like many other kinds of insurance, it pays to know what is and isn’t covered by homeowner’s insurance.  While most homeowners assume that a leaky roof is covered under their policy, the exception to the rule is when it’s obvious that the leak was produced through the negligence of the owner.  In other words, if the leak was caused suddenly by a windstorm, it’s covered.  If the leak was the result of an old roof that is long past its prime, it most likely won’t be covered.  (If your roof is more than 20 years old, you owe it to yourself to have it inspected.)

The same holds true for hail damage.  Additionally, many homeowners’ policies have a provision that may require a policyholder to pay a separate hail deductible that’s different from the regular insurance deductible.  (This is why you need to read your policy thoroughly.)

What should you do if you need to file a roof damage claim?

If your roof suffers damage, take photos or shoot a video to document the damage as soon as the storm abates.  Then cover the damaged area with a tarp to prevent further damage.  Next you need to call your insurance agent right away to file a claim and ask what you need to do to get your roof repaired so that no further damage is done to your home.  While it’s usually acceptable to get quotes from roofers, the last thing you want to do is sign on the dotted line with any contractor until a licensed adjuster assesses the damage. While it’s alright to allow a contractor to be present during the adjuster’s inspection, do not sign a letter of intent until you get approval from your insurer.  If you do, you may wind up paying for repairs you don’t need or having a lien slapped on your property when you refuse to pay a contractor.  Reputable roofing contractors aren’t only licensed, insured and bonded, but they want to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and the t’s crossed before they repair or replace your roof.

While a roof is high over all our heads, it’s sometimes low on many homeowner’s priority list and that can prove to be a costly mistake.  Take the time to take care of your roof and it will take care of you.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at


  1. With the rainy season just getting started here in Florida, the time to check out your roof is sooner rather than later.

  2. Having your roof checked out is a no brainier. Inspections are free from reputable roofers. Get it done and get it fixed if needed.


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