Insurance. Bring it up in any conversation and you’re guaranteed to get a few groans. That said, if you’re hearing groans, it’s because people know about it. These days, there’s insurance for everything, from your pets to your home. While most folks may not necessarily insure their kid’s guinea pig, homeowners’ insurance is just one of those things you absolutely need to have if you, well, own a home. Without it, you’ll be left floundering on your own in the event of a disaster, no matter how big or how small.
Roof damages can be particularly frustrating for homeowners, because of the sheer importance of having a sound roof over your head. While you might think that homeowners’ insurance covers roof damage, you’ll actually have to read your policy over carefully to find out for sure… and even then, you’ll notice that coverage actually depends on a whole range of factors!
No two plans are the same
Don’t be fooled into thinking that home insurance plans are interchangeable. In Ontario, there are close to 200 insurance companies, all offering a range of different coverage options – and conditions. This is because the home insurance industry is not regulated in the same way as auto insurance, and so protection really depends on the individual plan.
Given how many companies there are, you should do a thorough job of researching different options in order to choose the best plan for your home. For instance, you may discover that one plan charges extra for things that are simply included as part of another plan. It’s your job to thoroughly compare these sorts of factors and to ask questions before you make a purchase.
Homeowners’ homework: maintenance
Now let’s say your roof gets damaged in some way, shape or form, and you’ve contacted your insurance company to have the repair costs covered. Don’t be surprised if they send somebody over to inspect your roof and to take pictures of it. Insurers want to determine the condition of your roof prior to the damages. This means depending on the problem, they’ll be inspecting everything from your gutters to your attic.
Homeowners need to do their homework on a regular basis, maintaining the roof in good condition throughout the seasons, year in and year out so that it is at less risk of getting damaged. Those of you who neglect your duties will be penalized by insurers, as they will not give you as good coverage as you might otherwise receive if the roof was well maintained.
For instance, if you live in an area that receives heavy snowfall, it’s important not to skip out on winter maintenance – things like clearing off heavy snow loads, icicles and ice dams. No excuses! Even if you’re unable to make it up onto the roof yourself, call your roofing contractor to deal with issues as they spring up, or else you’ll be at risk of dealing with even worse problems down the road. Roof repair might seem like a piece of cake when it’s a single missing shingle… but if half your roof is leaking, your insurers are going to take a good, hard look at how well you’ve maintained your home over the years.
Mother nature is responsible for a lot of the calls roofers and insurers get from anxious homeowners. Some issues can be pretty clear cut, while others can get pretty complicated. Tree troubles can be particularly grievous, especially if they don’t just involve your own house, but maybe even your neighbour’s home too.
The thing is, if a tree that is found on your property falls over or somehow causes damage to your neighbours’ property or even to a person, then the circumstances don’t just involve you and the insurer, because they now also involve a third-party claim as well. As the owner of the tree, it’s your job to maintain it just as you would your roof.
Check for rot, even if the tree looks perfectly fine on the outside. You also need to prune the branches, and make sure there aren’t other signs of sickness that could weaken the tree in any way. Fail to do so, and the insurers will say you’re at fault if something goes wrong. This applies whether a tree tears a hole in the roof of your house – or that of your neighbour.
Some final words of advice
The main thing you need to know when it comes to homeowners’ insurance is that it’s not a magic wand that waives damage-related fees if you forget to keep your house in working order. You absolutely need to keep your home maintained on a regular basis, whether you have an all-perils policy (which protects you in the event of most problems), or a named-perils policy (which applies only to a specific list of perils, like lightning, wind or fire). Read the policy before you buy it and ask as many detailed roof-related and other questions as you need to have a thorough understanding of what you are signing up for.
Don’t forget that it’s up to you to keep your insurers in the loop whenever there are any changes to your home, for better or for worse. Should a problem occur, it’s also your responsibility to take the immediate first steps (if it’s safe to do so) to mitigate further damages. For instance, if your roof is leaking today, don’t allow it to keep on leaking until the whole thing is at risk of caving in.
Deal with damages immediately, but keep all your receipts, photographs and notes so that you can be prepared to get your money back for expenses incurred (so long as the damage is covered by your policy). In this modern day and age, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have copies of photos, videos and documents backed up to keep track of the state of your home, whether it’s before or after a problem occurs! Irritating though it may be, by keeping good documentation, you’ll be well prepared to deal with the insurers should the need arise. With good luck, however, you’ll never need to call your insurers at all!
For more information, speak to a roofing contractor in your area. If you have any roofing questions you’d like to ask us please don’t hesitate to call us at (905) 387 3000 or contact us using the contact form on our website. We’d love to hear from you!