Is a Flat Roof Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Most homeowners insurance companies will provide some type of coverage for flat roofs. However, insuring a house with a flat roof often comes at a high price. The insurance company may charge higher premiums or add exclusions to the policy related to the roof. If you file a claim, you may discover that the payout for a flat roof is substantially lower than for a sloped roof.
Why are flat roofs hard to insure? A flat roof collects debris and is subject to pooling, leading to roof damage and water leaks. It may require more professional roofing repairs or ongoing maintenance. Plus, flat roofs are not designed to bear as much weight as sloped roofs. As a result, insurance companies will either refuse to cover a flat roof or charge higher premiums to lower the financial risk.
What is a Flat Roof?
Contrary to its name, not every flat roof is perfectly horizontal. Also known as a low slope roof, a flat roof has a pitch of up to ten degrees. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) defines a low-slope roof as having a slope of 1:4 (3 in 12) or less. While flat roofs are most common on commercial structures, they can also be found on many Florida homes.
Flat roofs are more common in warmer climates that produce less rainfall and have virtually no chance of freezing temperatures. Most flat roofs consist of concrete or masonry that reduces heat transference from the sun. Flat roofs are also less expensive to build than sloped roofs, as fewer materials and less labor are required.
Why Are Flat Roofs Hard to Insure?
When insuring a home, insurance companies assess the risk and cost involved. Although flat roofs are less expensive and easier to build, insuring them comes at a higher risk. How?
Sloped roofs are designed to drain rainwater quickly, preventing it from pooling on the surface. Roofs with little to no slope suffer from pooling. This problem eventually leads to water leaks, mold and rotting. On those rare occasions that it does ice up in Florida, ice can quickly accumulate on a flat roof, which is not designed to bear the extra weight.
Short Life Span
An insurance company may cancel or adjust insurance coverage on a sloped roof of 20+ years old. Flat roofs will need a review from the insurer after only ten years. Flat roofs need to be replaced after only a decade. For this reason, many homeowners switch to sloped roofs after scheduling a professional roof replacement.
Flat roof membranes are vulnerable to punctures caused by falling branches or foot traffic. It is easy to damage a roof during installation or maintenance. Homes in Florida may sustain severe roof damage during hurricane season. In the end, flat roofs do not hold up to the outside elements in the way that sloped roofs do.
What to Consider When Buying Homeowners Insurance
Although getting homeowners insurance for a flat-roof house can be difficult, several insurance companies do provide coverage. Before writing a policy for your house, however, there are several things that you need to consider:
- Some insurers offer specialized policies. However, they typically come with more exclusions and higher premiums. The same may be true with your current insurance company.
- Insurance companies consider the roof’s age, the materials used to build the structure and how well you maintain the roof over the years.
- Some insurance companies may require proof of a routine inspection and professional roof maintenance based on roofing contractor or manufacturer recommendations.
- Insurers may cover materials such as metal, concrete, PVC, bitumen, felt over timber frames or other materials that meet building codes and are standard in the roofing industry.
- Like any other roof, insurance companies do not cover preventative maintenance, intentional damage or damage caused by neglect.
Lastly and most importantly, do not purchase a house with a flat roof until you know that you can insure it. You will also want to know in advance how much you are going to pay for coverage. Insurance for a flat-roof house can cost up to 50 percent more than coverage for a sloped-roof house.
Professional Roof Maintenance Can Keep Your Insurance Rates Low
Regardless of the type of roof on your house, the best way to keep your homeowners insurance rates low is to schedule professional roof maintenance. Ongoing maintenance can keep your roof in pristine condition over the years. You save money on major repairs or roof replacement down the road. You can also keep your home’s market value high.
Maintenance can prevent roof leaks and reinforce your roof during hurricane season. You can also demonstrate to your insurance company that you have cared for the roof according to manufacturer specifications. Doing so can keep your insurance rates low—possibly by as much as 20 percent.
Schedule a Free Roof Inspection.
Quality Roofing Solutions offers premier roofing services for homeowners in Florida. Call 850–378–3757 or fill out the quick form on our contact page to schedule a free roof inspection.