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Roofing/replacing a roof because it is 14 years old

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QUESTION: Greetings, Mr. Wadding.  My homeowners insurance company has just sent me a notice that they have changed my roof coverage to actual cash value instead of replacement value because their records indicate that my roof is now 14 years old.  The notice also says that this can be reversed if I replace the roof.  It's a shingle roof and my home is wood frame with aluminum siding.  I live in Memphis, TN.  There is nothing wrong with my roof.  Any time in the past that shingles have been blown off, I've had them replaced.  I take pride in maintaining my roof in tip-top condition.  Is there is any practical reason to replace a roof like mine?  Also, would you happen to know if this procedure on the part of the insurance company is standard?  Thank you in advance for your time.

ANSWER: Lana,

Sorry for the delay in my response, busy times these days.

This action by your insurance provider is not unusual and certainty not singling you out. Insurance companies are all about risk management, which a big part is calculating losses. The insurance company views your roof, now 14 years old, as an item that is at greater risk of damage.  By changing the coverage in this way, should you have a roof loss due to storm damage (ie; wind or hail) in lieu of replacing it with new, they will calculate the cost of a new roof and depreciate that value by their declining scale.  They likely will believe the roof to last 20 years (unless it is some type of high-end shingle) and depreciate the roof using that life cycle.

If the roof in servicing well with minimal issues, there is no real logical reasoning to replace it other than to maintain the replacement coverage on your homeowner's insurance. This type of action and behavior by the insurance company is why most people view them as thieves with a selfish agenda.  Many run public relation commercials to say how friendly they and how much they care about doing the "right thing" but in reality it is marketing to draw in new customers from other companies.

In your situation, I would demand a written explanation as to the changes in coverage and that they specifically show you within your policy as to where this right is provided to them.  If they are devaluation your coverage, this should reduce your premium.  I suspect they will offer a different excuse as to why this is, such as your rates were going to rise and this will maintain your rates.

I wish the best for you, in your shoes, I would demand the explanation and if I didn't like it, I would shop for new homeowner's insurance.

Good Luck,

Steven Wadding

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much for this great thorough answer.  I'll surely take all this into consideration.  I have noticed some granules of shingle "sand" coming down through the gutter down-spouts.  Is this something that indicates the roof has deteriorated to the point it needs replaced, usually?

Answer
Lana,

The surface of the shingles have a ceramic mineral granule on the top to protect the asphalt underneath from UV exposure and give you an attractive color appearance.  The back or underside of the shingle has sand which was  used as a parting agent so they don't stick together in the packaging when made.

If what you see in the gutter is the colored granule from the surface a degree of this is normal for the first 1 to 5 years. These are the granules that are not really pressed into the asphalt, they are just hitch-hikers and wash off.  After that, if you see an accumulation of granules in the gutter after normal storm events (heavier rain) that would indicate the shingle is aging and losing granules, which will reduce its life cycle.  If it was noticed after an event such as a hail storm, this is the result of hail damage, a conditions your insurance should address.

I am speculating not seeing the roof, but if you look at it close you would see a random patter of granules missing and see round-like marks in the painted surface of items on the roof such as the air conditioner and metal roof penetrations.  If you see signs of this, you may consider filing a hail damage claim.

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Steven C. Wadding RRC,RRO,CDT

Expertise

General questions in regards to most roof types and situations. As the Technical Services Manager for Polyglass USA, Inc. this would not be a forum to address any issues directly related to a product my employer manufacturers.

Experience

I have been active in the roofing and waterproofing industries for more than 30 years with extensive experience from product installation, product development and consulting. I have been active in the Construction Specifications Institute and Roof Consultants Institute for approximately 20 years. I am a member of ASTM and am a voting member of various subcommittees. I have many years of consulting experience in the fields of Roofing, Waterproofing and Exterior Building Envelope disciplines.

Organizations
Roof Consultants Institute Construction Specifications Institute ASTM

Publications
Division 7 Technical Binders for Malarkey Roofing Products and Polyglass USA, Inc. CSI Phoenix Chapter Cactus Comments

Education/Credentials
Registered Roof Consultant - Roof Consultants Institute Registered Roof Observer - Roof Consultants Institute Certifified Document Technologist - Construction Specifications Institute Spray Fireproofing Special Inspector - International Code Council

Awards and Honors
Registered Roof Consultant - Roof Consultants Institute Registered Roof Observer - Roof Consultants Institute Certifified Document Technologist - Construction Specifications Institute Spray Fireproofing Special Inspector - International Code Council

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