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When the Perfectly Good Roof on Your CNY Home is Uninsurable

May 10th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Daniel J. Middleton

Is the roof on your CNY home nearing 20 years old?

You’re a responsible homeowner in Central New York. You take good care of your property, including your roof. So it comes as a shock when you find out your insurance company won’t renew your policy because they say your roof is too old

Never mind that it’s in good shape with years of life left. Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common scenario.

At Horan, we understand the frustration and confusion this situation creates. You thought you were doing everything right, but now you’re left wondering how to protect your home. 

We’ve been tailoring home policies for CNY homeowners since 2009, and, the truth is, insurers are becoming much more wary of older roofs, even when they’re in solid condition. Their concern is the increased risk that comes with age.

In this article, we’ll explain what’s behind this trend and what you need to know as a homeowner. We’ll cover 

  1. why insurers are shying away from aging roofs, 
  2. what roof warranties actually protect, and 
  3. the key things that impact your roof’s insurability. 

By reading to the end, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to navigate this challenge and keep your home properly protected. Let’s dive in.

Insurance Policies Aren’t Meant to Be Roof Piggy Banks

It’s a common misconception that insurance policies are there to fund roof replacements whenever you need one. But that’s not how they’re intended to work. 

Over time, in certain areas of Central New York, it became a prevalent practice for homeowners with older roofs to use hail storms as an opportunity to get a brand new roof courtesy of their insurance, even if their current roof should’ve been replaced years ago. 

Contractors would go door-to-door telling people their roof was toast, but not to worry because their insurance would foot the bill. Streets full of homes would get new roofs this way, with insurance being treated like a roof piggy bank.

Understanding Your Roof Warranty in Central New York

Roof Warranties Don’t Cover Everything

Even if your roof has a warranty, it’s important to understand what’s actually covered. A typical roof warranty only protects against defects in installation and materials

A Typical Roof Warranty Scenario

To understand how that works, let’s say you live in Syracuse and had a new roof installed by a local contractor a few years back. They offered a 10-year workmanship warranty and the shingles came with a 30-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Fast forward 15 years. You start noticing some leaks and assume it will all be covered under warranty. However, when you take a closer look at the fine print, you realize the coverage is more limited than you thought.

The workmanship warranty from the Syracuse contractor only covers defects in their installation work, and it expired after 10 years. And the manufacturer’s warranty on the shingles themselves only protects against premature failure or deterioration of the materials. 

Things like wear and tear from our harsh CNY winters, damage from wind or hail, or any leaks that develop around flashings or sealants aren’t covered.

So while the warranties seemed reassuring when you got the new roof, they actually offer relatively narrow protection that doesn’t kick in for many of the common issues that arise with an aging roof in our climate. 

That’s why it’s so important for Central New York homeowners to understand the limits of even “long-term” roof warranties and plan proactively for roof maintenance and replacement costs down the road.

Why Insurers are Backing Off Older Roofs

Start of ice dam on a rustic CNY cabinSince insurers are on the hook for any water damage that comes through the roof, the age of the roof directly impacts their risk. And they’re not keen on that risk. So even if you have a 40 or 50 year shingle warranty, once your roof hits around the 20 year mark, insurers start getting skittish. 

They might refuse coverage altogether, or they might still insure you but with reduced protections. For example, they may remove coverage for things like ice damming (a common issue in colder climates that can cause leaks). The bottom line is, the older your roof, the harder and more expensive it becomes to insure it fully.

You Take Care of the Roof, They’ll Take Care of Insurance

Insurers aren’t in the business of buying people new roofs—that’s on the homeowner. Their stance is basically: you handle the roof maintenance and replacement when needed, we’ll handle insuring it against covered perils in the meantime.

Just like an aging athlete past their prime, an older roof presents more risk and less value to the insurer. They don’t want to be on the hook for paying out on an old roof that’s increasingly likely to have problems.

So, if you have an older roof, even if it’s in decent shape, don’t be surprised if you run into challenges with your insurance. It’s an issue that’s becoming increasingly common. Insurers are backing off aging roofs because they represent increased risk. 

Unfortunately, in many cases, a roof that still has some life left in it from a practical standpoint becomes uninsurable from the perspective of an insurance company.

We Can Help You Navigate Roof Insurance Challenges with Confidence

At Horan, we get it. The realization that your well-maintained, serviceable roof is suddenly uninsurable can be incredibly frustrating. It feels like the goal posts have moved. But armed with the knowledge of what insurers are looking for and why, you can tackle this challenge head-on.

Proactively addressing your roof’s condition and understanding its warranties are key. If your roof is approaching that 20-year mark, start planning for its replacement on your terms, not the insurer’s. By being strategic, you can secure better coverage at a fair price.

Neglecting this issue will only lead to more stress and limited options down the road. But by facing it proactively, you can maintain control, maximize your protection, and give yourself security.

Ready to find the right coverage for your home and roof? Click the Get a Quote button below to explore your options and start shielding your investment wisely.

And Avoid Home Insurance Denial by Fixing These 7 Property Issues.

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Daniel J. Middleton

Daniel is an accomplished content creator. He has been working in publishing for almost two decades. Horan Companies hired Daniel as its content manager in November 2022. The agency entrusted its messaging to him. Since then, Daniel has written insurance articles, service pages, PDF guides, and more. All in an effort to educate CNY readers. He's helping them understand the world of insurance so they can make informed decisions.