Texas Roof Repair And Insurance Coverage

LAST UPDATED: June 16, 2018

Texas is in the unique geographical position of having its weather patterns created by colliding tropical and continental air masses. This sets us up for some nasty and extreme weather situations. The costliest hail storm on record happened in Texas back on May 5th 1995. And most recently, both hurricanes Harvey and Irma had created so much damage to local businesses and the economy, that they are expected to have a negative impact on the country’s GDP.

It may come then as no surprise that roof damage is the most common insurance claim in Texas. Many of the issues that crop up when determining the amount of damage caused naturally (age) and that caused by weather. And what is covered. You see, insurance won’t cover damage that comes from natural aging, but it will cover damage from the forces of mother nature.

The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas sponsored a study back in 2010 called: Roof Claims Issues in Texas. It addresses this age old problem of what a policy covers and what it will not cover.

Roof Claims Issues in Texas: A publication of Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. iiat.org

Once it is determined that covered damage has occurred, the degree of damage must be determined. This is the emerging question in roof claims: Has the roof been damaged enough to cause functional damage? Functional damage is defined by Haag Engineering Co.5 as a diminution of water-shedding capability or reduction in the expected long-term service life of the material. The other side of that question is: In a replacement cost policy, what difference does it make?

 

Another equally troubling situation arises when a claims adjuster comes across damage that was caused by a covered event, such as hail. But the latest hail storm was months or even years before.

 

This situation usually occurs in one of three ways:

  1. A new storm causes damage to a roof and the adjuster determines there is old damage as well as new damage.
  2. A property owner learns that a storm caused damage to other property in the neighborhood, or sees evidence that his neighbors are getting new roofs, or suffers water damage from a leaky roof.
  3. A property inspection obtained to sell the property reveals old damage and the buyer insists that the roof be replaced before closing.

New Damage on Top of Old Damage The first situation should not be a problem for the insurance company when the policy provides replacement cost coverage. If the roof suffers damage in the most recent storm that requires replacement of the roof, the insurance company owes the full cost for replacement of the entire roof. (If the recent storm damage doesn’t require full replacement see “Partial New Damage on Top of Partial Old Damage” below.) Take another look at the wording in a homeowners policy that provides replacement cost coverage:

 

“We insure against all risks of physical loss to the property described in Section I Property Coverage, Coverage A (Dwelling) unless the loss is excluded in Section I Exclusions. Our limit of liability for covered losses to dwelling and other structure(s) under Coverage A (Dwelling) … will be at replacement cost settlement…”

 

Help After Harvey: Your Insurance Claims | Texas Department of Insurance

 

The insurance company owes for full replacement in this case because that’s what the policy says. If the same company covered the property at the time of the first storm, either it saved money by having to replace the roof only once instead of twice, or it failed to verify the repairs were made after a claim was paid for the first storm. Either way, the company is contractually obligated to pay for replacement. If another company covered the property at the time of the first storm, the current insurer is likewise obligated to pay for replacement. An insurance company has a right to inspect property when it provides coverage. If it failed to inspect the property, or failed to see the damage in an inspection, it has no case to deny the claim or reduce the amount owed for full replacement. This is true even if the property owner was paid for the damage by the prior insurer, but only if the new damage requires replacement of the roof without regard to the old damage.

 

“Neighboritis”

The second situation frequently occurs when a property owner notices all the neighbors are getting new roofs. Upon making inquiries, the owner learns about the storm. Perhaps the owner was away from the property at the time of loss, or thought the storm was not severe enough to cause damage.

 

In any case, this shouldn’t be an issue as an inspection by a qualified adjuster will determine whether there is any damage to the roof. Weather history data is available at the neighborhood level, and claims adjusters keep records on severe weather events in their territories.

 

Fixing Up To Sell

The final situation in the old damage category is perhaps the most troublesome issue to handle. The damage may have occurred during the term of a prior policy, and that policy may have been placed with another company. An experienced adjuster can determine the extent of damage and approximately when it occurred based on an inspection of the roof and an examination of weather history data. Late reporting is not necessarily an issue. The Texas homeowners policy, for example, simply requires the insured to report claims promptly. This can only be interpreted in the context of the insured’s knowledge that a loss has occurred.

It’s hard to stay up with all the fine print in your policy. And it usually takes a catastrophic event for you to get familiar with the policy unfortunately. But there are some things you can do as a homeowner to maximize your coverage.

 

1) Know the insurance companies practices when it comes to hail and wind damage.

2) Understand what’s covered and what the loss provisions are.

3) Know your rights to have an independent roof inspector involved on your behalf.

4) Have on hand the following resources from the Texas Department of Insurance:

Storm Resource Page; www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/storms/

“Repairing My Roof After a Storm,” available for downloading at:                              www.tdi.state.tx.us/wind/documents/RepairingRoofAfterStorm.pdf

5) Document repairs and replacements for future insurance claims.

6) Never allow a contractor to overlay shingles. Always have the older shingles removed before the new ones go on.

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