Your roof has the essential job of keeping your home watertight and protecting it and you from the elements. If something happens to it – falling tree hits it or high winds dislodge tiles, for example – you’ll need to get it fixed as soon as possible and the repairs could be expensive. This is where roof insurance comes in.
Home insurance is designed to cover most of the cost of repairing the damage if something like this were to happen, as long as you have an insurance policy that covers the type of roof you have on your home.
Standard insurance policies include cover for your roof but don’t cover everything and if you have a ‘non-standard’ roof, which means anything that isn’t pitched, or built with conventional materials such as tiles or slate, you may need special cover.
‘Many insurers don’t cover thatched roofs,’ points out David Fowkes, head of household underwriting at Admiral, which provides insurance for non-standard homes as well as standard ones. ‘Most would cover a flat roof but some charge an extra premium. However, the main factor is the roof material rather than it being flat per se.’
What is roof insurance?
Roof insurance forms part of your buildings insurance policy and pays for repairs to any damage to it caused by a specific event, such as fire, vandalism, a storm or lightning. It also pays for any related damage to the structure of your home, such as problems caused by water coming in through the roof.
You’ll always have to pay an excess – this is the part of a claim you have to pay yourself – so you won’t get 100% of the cost of the repairs paid for. It’s usually between one and a few hundred pounds.
Anything caused by wear and tear, such as the nails in your roof corroding over time, isn’t covered. You may also risk being unable to claim on your cover if you haven’t properly maintained your roof – you haven’t replaced tiles that are missing, for example.
Any damage to the belongings inside your home as a result of damage to your roof would be covered by your contents insurance policy.
Do you need roof insurance?
If you have a mortgage on your home, taking out buildings insurance is required by your lender and this always includes roof insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, buildings insurance is essential as if your home is destroyed and needs rebuilding it could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Roof repairs alone could cost thousands.
If you do live in a home with a non-standard roof, such as a thatched cottage, you do need home insurance dedicated to the roof. You’ll need to take out specific insurance but the policy would cover the whole property rather than just the roof. Although many insurers will cover flat roofs as standard, the percentage of your roof that is flat could be a factor.
‘If it’s more than 30%, a lot of insurers would see this as a special case,’ says Graeme Trudgill, executive director of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA). ‘Some insurers wouldn’t like insuring a property with even less than this.’
The issue is that a non-standard roof poses extra risks for the insurer. For example, a thatched roof is an increased fire risk. Flat roofs are more risky because rain and snow is more likely to build up on them and cause damage and leaks. They can also make your home more accessible to thieves.
If you do have cover for a non-standard roof there may be conditions attached. ‘With thatched roofs, if you have an open fire you may be required to have your chimney swept every year,’ says Graeme Trudgill. ‘For a flat roof you may have to re-felt it regularly.’ It may also need to have regular inspections.
Where can I buy roof insurance?
All insurers offer roof insurance as part of their buildings insurance policies. If you need cover for a non-standard roof, this is offered by some mainstream insurers, such as Admiral, which will give you a standard policy but possibly with different terms and conditions relating to the roof. There are also insurers that specialise in insuring properties with thatched, flat or other unusual types of roof, such as rubber or green roofs.
You can compare how much does home insurance cost and buy policies through comparison sites or by speaking to an insurance broker. They will be able identify the insurers that are most likely to suit your needs and find you the best deal.
It can be particularly helpful to speak to a broker if you live in an unusual property, including one with a non-standard roof. To find a broker in your area, get in touch with the British Insurance Brokers Association.
How can I make sure my roof is properly covered?
As with any type of insurance, honesty is key. If you haven’t disclosed all the relevant details to your insurer you may find you can’t claim when you need to.
‘Each insurer will have its own criteria and it’s important that all questions are answered correctly, for example, declaring the correct material and the proportion that is flat, as well as taking note of specific questions and policy terms, such as keeping it in a good state of repair,’ advises David Fowkes at Admiral.
How do I claim on my roof insurance?
If you need to claim on your buildings insurance as a result of damage to your roof, contact your insurer as soon as possible. The longer you leave it the worse the damage could get. You may be able to make a claim online or over the phone, depending on the insurer. Check your policy documents to find out exactly how to do it and what not to do.
You’ll need to provide evidence of what has happened so take photos of the roof damage and any resulting damage inside. You may also need to show proof that your roof has been regularly inspected and well maintained. If you’re making a large claim, your insurer will usually send a loss adjuster to your home to assess the damage. You can also employ an independent loss assessor to help you with your claim.