Putting a roof over your family’s head is necessary, but it certainly isn’t cheap. In a 2017 American Housing Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the cost to get your roof replaced was about $6,800. But that bill can range from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on where you live, what weather hazards are typical in your area, and what kind of roof you’re buying, as well as other factors. So, yes, protecting yourself against rain, hail, snow, fire, lightning, and falling trees can be quite the expense, but there are ways to lower your premiums and ensure that you’re safe in your home. Below, we’ll take you through how you can save money on your home insurance premiums by getting a roof inspection and certification completed.
What is a roof inspection?
A roof inspection is a report that evaluates the current condition of your roof. The inspector will tell if there are any missing or damaged shingles, leaks, clogged rain gutters, cracks, or other warning signs. It’s different from a home inspection because home inspectors do not typically climb on the roof to review it thoroughly. A roof inspection will not inform you of the lifespan of your roof, only the repairs needed.
If you own an older home, a roof inspection is often required by the insurance company before they issue your insurance. Roof inspections (and subsequent repairs) are also commonly requested when you’re selling your home, as buyers want to make sure that the house is safe. Some buyers, on the other hand, may want to pay for their own inspector to evaluate your roof.
What a roof inspector will look for:
- Curled, damaged, or missing shingles or tiles
- Vegetation on the roof
- Rust or signs of roof flashing
- Damaged or missing flashpoints
- Water stains on the ceiling or under the roof
- Damaged or clogged gutters, drains, skylights, chimneys, and roof valleys
What is a roof certification?
A roof certification is a professional statement of opinion from a licensed roof inspector that estimates the remaining lifespan of your roof. It goes one step further than the roof inspection by certifying your roof is in good condition (i.e., free of leaks and cracks) and that no repairs are needed. If repairs are recommended in the inspection, then the repair will need to happen in order for the certification to be issued.
Depending on the roofing company, this certification is good for two to five years. Make sure that the certification you’re getting is compliant with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulations, as this will provide that your roof is safe if and when you put your house on the market.
In order to make a determination of the roof’s remaining years, inspectors have to factor in:
- Roofing material (i.e., composition shingle, slate, metal)
- Age of roof
- Roof pitch (how steep the roof is)
- Number of layers
- Previous roof repairs
Some roof certifications will include a warranty to protect you from leaks and other types of damage. If you’re considering getting a warranty, it’s important to read the fine print, as sometimes only parts of the roof are covered and not all of it. It’s also important that you vet the roofing company’s reputation and financial standing. If the company goes out of business, then so does your warranty.
How can a safe roof lower the cost of my homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance companies want to insure people whose homes are as safe as possible. The less of a risk you are, the less of a chance you’ll have to file a claim. This incentivizes insurance companies to offer discounts to those who demonstrate a commitment to safety.
When it comes to your roof, insurance companies may give you a discount, in the form of a credit or lower monthly premiums, for having a roof certification issued by a licensed roofer. “You get a better rate for that just like you get a better rate for having home security, like ADP,” says Jason L. Austin, an independent insurance agent and owner of J.L. Austin Consulting.
“Say the roof has been done within the past two years,” Austin explains. “You want to get it inspected and certified from the company who [installed] the actual roof itself. Showing that certification — that the roof has been okay within the past couple of years — will lower the premium because now if something comes along, like a strong wind, the roof would hold up a lot better than one that’s six or seven years old, because those are the ones that’ll probably end up leaking.”
How do I get a safe roof discount?
To receive the discount (if your insurance company offers it), you can either ask for it upon applying for a policy or get a roof certification done once you’re already insured. Each situation requires the appropriate documentation from your licensed roofing contractor and filling out an application with your insurance company.
Austin recommends getting a roof certification regularly to ensure low premiums and maintain the integrity of your home. He recommends that homeowners with brand new roofs get a certification every four to five years. Older roofs may require a certification every two to three years. Roofs typically have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years, depending on the material used and where you live. (Florida roofs will be subject to different weather considerations compared to, say, roofs in Illinois.)
You can also receive a discount for installing impact-resistant roofing products or installing an entirely new roof in some states. You’ll want to check with your provider to see what they can offer you.
Is paying for an inspection and certification worth it?
Paying for a roof certification, and potentially a roof repair if a weakness is found, can be expensive upfront. Austin says that the cost of a roof inspection and certification varies, but it typically falls between $200 and $300.
It may take years for that initial cost to be recouped from the discount you earn on your premiums, as home insurance can cost between $500 and $1500 a year (depending on where you live and other factors). However, the knowledge that your roof is in good condition is worth it. You can sleep safely knowing that it can withstand heavy wind, rain, snow, and other risks outside your control.
Tips for hiring a roof inspector
- Ask for local referrals from friends and neighbors.
- Read online reviews and ratings of the company to see if customers are happy with their service.
- Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Check that the company is licensed by a professional association like National Roof Certification and Inspection Association and by your state, if applicable.
- Don’t commit to the first roofing contractor you find. Shop around for quotes from multiple companies.
- Watch out for roofing scams, which often include “free” roof inspections, down payments, or high-pressure sales tactics.