Climate Change Could Quickly Turn Your Old Roof Into a Home Insurance Headache

You’ve always paid your homeowners insurance bill on time and never even filed a claim. So why did your carrier reduce your coverage or even drop it entirely? Your roof — and climate change — could be to blame.

Homeowners insurance covers you when a “weather event” — excepting a flood, which requires a separate policy — damages or destroys the roof of your home. And those catastrophes are happening more often, and across a wider swath of the country. Between 2015 and 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), the proportion of damage claims for homes due to wind and hail jumped by 11 percentage points, up to 34%, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Roofs are responsible for a lot of those claims costs, since roof replacement is among the priciest repairs to a home, costing an average of anywhere between $8,000 to $22,000, depending on the material involved and where you live.

Losses from recent bad weather are helping drive up the cost of home insurance. But an aging roof can increasingly complicate getting or renewing your policy, too. Insurers are getting more cautious about covering the risk of roof repairs, and better able to detect roofs whose condition makes them especially vulnerable to damage.

Insurers are increasingly using drone cameras to evaluate the condition of a roof before originating or renewing a policy. Some companies are also analyzing satellite images to learn more about the impact of extreme weather — allowing, say, assessments of roof conditions before and after hurricanes happen.

The upshot: insurance companies are paying more attention to roofs and are becoming quicker to take action with homeowners who have a roof that’s deemed to be vulnerable.

The odds of outright cancellation of your policy due to an old roof are low, at least in most of the country. But, wherever you live, neglecting your home’s “lid” for too long could result in reduced insurance coverage that could cost you thousands more in the event your roof is damaged or destroyed.

Here’s what you need to understand about what a roof’s age and condition may mean to you and your insurance.