Florida is no stranger to natural disasters, with just about every homeowner worried about protecting their property during hurricane season. Of the many types of damage that could afflict your property as the result of a hurricane or severe thunderstorm, few can be more problematic than roofing damage.
This is especially true given the state’s turbulent home insurance market, with Florida home insurance roof requirements being an increasingly noteworthy issue for both insurers and home-owners.
In fact, the start of 2022 saw a host of news stories revealing that many insurers were dropping homeowners and refusing to renew their policies simply based on the age of the home’s roof — regardless of the actual condition of the roof.
This is a major problem for homeowners who still have a mortgage on their property, as lenders will often refuse to lend to individuals who do not obtain insurance coverage. And in a state where natural disasters like hurricanes are far more likely than other parts of the country, going without insurance is a risky proposition.
Unsurprisingly, this has since led to new legislation and increased concern from homeowners and insurers alike on how to navigate roof requirements for homeowners insurance in Florida. Here’s what you should know.
After a rising number of homeowners had their insurance policies cancelled — or had insurers refuse to offer them coverage — simply due to the age of their roof, the Florida state legislature implemented new roof requirements for homeowners insurance in Florida in May 2022.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, “Companies would be blocked from denying coverage because of a roof’s age if the roof is less than 15 years old. And for roofs that are older than 15 years, insurers would have to allow homeowners to have an inspection on the roof’s condition before refusing coverage. If the inspection shows the roof has five or more years of useful life left, the insurance company could not reject coverage simply because of age.”
According to Islander News, the new legislation would also update Florida home insurance roof requirements by allowing roofs that comply with the state’s 2007 building code to be repaired, instead of needing to be replaced, even when the roof is more than 25 percent damaged. This is thanks to a new exemption that would be added to the building code.
The legislation also aimed to ease the financial impact on insurers, many of which had suffered significant losses due to fraudulent or unnecessary roof replacement claims that occurred in the wake of hurricane season.
A $2 billion reinsurance program aims to protect insurers from hurricane season losses, while grants of up to $10,000 can also be provided to homeowners whose property meets select criteria so they can “harden” their property against hurricane damage.
Essentially, the legislation aimed to improve conditions for both homeowners and insurers. While insurers could no longer drop homeowners simply because of the age of their roof, they also received financial protection to cover their own losses. Reducing the likelihood of unnecessary roof replacements when repairs would be sufficient can also lower costs for both home-owners and insurers.
These recent legislative actions are hardly the first changes to roof requirements for homeowners insurance in Florida. In fact, in July 2021, a new law was introduced to cut down on fraudulent roof replacement claims.
Essentially, the concern for insurers was that roofers would go door to door after a storm and convince customers to file a claim for a complete roof replacement, even when it wasn’t necessary. The 2021 legislation prohibited roofers from door-to-door marketing, and from incentivizing homeowners to submit for a roof replacement.
The law also updated claim requirements for property owners. Roof-related claims (including supplemental and reopened claims) must be submitted within two years. If the homeowner decides to file a lawsuit against their insurer, they must submit a written notice 60 days in advance.
The 2021 law also changed the roof coverage options available to homeowners.
As Chris Gray for Roofing Contractor magazine writes, “The bill allows property insurers to only offer homeowner’s policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is older than 10 years. The bill also allows property insurers to offer homeowners the option of purchasing a stated value limit for roof coverage. The bill will make it so insurers use a ‘roof surface reimbursement schedule’ to sell policies that provide reduced payments for roofs that are 10 years and older. The schedule must provide for full replacement coverage for any roof surface type less than 10 years old.”
The roof surface reimbursement schedule provides minimum reimbursement amounts for re-pairs for older roofs, with the amount varying based on the type of roof used on the property.
For example, while metal roofs have a reimbursement amount of 70 percent, that amount drops to 40 percent for concrete and clay tiles, as well as wood shakes and shingles. All other roof types have a minimum reimbursement amount of 25 percent.
This change was designed to lower home insurance rates, but at the same time, it also meant that property owners would be responsible for more of the repair costs if their home had a roof that was more than 10 years old.
However, insurers were still required to provide full replacement coverage for roofs less than 10 years old. And for older roofs, when a total loss occurred due to a “covered peril,” the roof sur-face reimbursement schedule would not apply, helping to mitigate the cost of a total loss.
As part of obtaining a homeowners insurance policy, insurers will often want to perform a roof inspection to determine its status and structural integrity. Even if an inspection is not required, they will ask you to supply basic information such as its age and type.
The information you supply (or that is obtained during the inspection) is used to create an individualized policy to determine the type of coverage you will be offered for the roof. While the age of the roof is a major concern for insurers, this isn’t the only factor that is considered. The following roof attributes can also influence your policy coverage:
Different roofing materials each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
As noted previously, the material type is used to set the roof surface reimbursement schedule for covered repairs on older roofs. However, the type of materials used for your roof can also affect its longevity and risk for damage in the first place.
Though metal roofing tends to be more expensive upfront, it can last for 50 years or more. Met-al roofs are extremely resistant to a wide range of environmental hazards. They can withstand winds of 160 mph — and some can endure even stronger winds. Metal roofing is also resistant to insects and fire damage.
Like metal, concrete or clay tiles can last up to 50 years. Concrete and clay tiles are resistant to heavy rain, fire, salt, and insects. Thanks to their heavier weight than other roofing materials, they also offer great wind resistance. However, clay and concrete tiles are more likely than metal to be cracked or damaged by an impact from a tree branch or other debris.
Wood shakes and shingles have a charming, rustic appearance. However, they are typically bet-ter suited for inland areas that are less vulnerable to hurricanes. They require consistent mainte-nance, and are vulnerable to fire and insect damage, as well as rot from excess moisture.
Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roofing in the United States thanks to their low cost, aesthetic appeal, and decent all-around performance. Unfortunately, asphalt shingles are more vulnerable to Florida’s wild weather. Shingles can get blown off during a hurricane or thunderstorm. High temperatures and humidity, as well as exposure to UV rays can also cause deterioration of the shingles.
The shape of the roof can also significantly influence its risk for hurricane damage. As a result, it is something many insurers in Florida will carefully consider when providing a policy quote. Different roof shapes will be more or less susceptible to high winds.
In Florida, gable and hip roofs are considered the best option for properties in high wind zones thanks to lower roof slopes and fewer corners where wind gusts could lift the roof.
Florida building codes require that buildings meet a wind load requirement ranging from 120 mph to 180 mph, depending on the part of the state the building is located in. Newer homes must be built to the state’s current standards, which can reduce the risk of damage and lower home insurance premiums.
Additional factors that can affect a roof’s risk for severe storm damage include the design of the roof deck and overhang. A larger overhang provides greater opportunity for wind to get under the roof and literally lift it off the house during extreme storms.
Proper roof deck attachments can also strengthen a roof’s wind resistance. Newer roofs will of-ten use strong double wraps. However, older roofs are more likely to use toenails (nails ham-mered at an angle) or clips, which are less secure and require more repairs and replacements.
The stronger the attachment to the building’s rafters, the greater the wind resistance, and the more likely a property is to qualify for wind mitigation credits.
If you live in an older home, you will likely need to make key upgrades to reduce your risk of severe hurricane damage and secure more favorable home insurance coverage. For example, if you install a new roof, the new addition is legally required to be compliant with the state’s latest building codes for wind mitigation.
Of course, even with the proposed $10,000 credit in the 2022 legislation, replacing an old roof can be an expensive task — especially as age-related replacements aren’t likely to be covered by insurance.
However, you can still undertake key wind mitigation tasks that reduce the risk of damage. Having a licensed contractor install additional straps or clips can better secure the roof against the rest of the structure. Addressing any existing repair needs can make the roof less susceptible to leaks and wind damage during future storms.
Caring for your property will also protect your roof against storm damage. Trimming shrubbery and trees can improve their wind resistance. It is especially important to trim dead tree branches or branches that overhang the roof, which could come down during a hurricane and cause signif-icant damage to the building.
If your property has gutters, you should inspect and clean them before the start of hurricane sea-son. Removing leaves and other debris will keep the gutters from overflowing, which could cause water to back up underneath the shingles.
Reporting any updates or repairs you’ve made to your roofing, as well as potentially scheduling a wind mitigation inspection, can help you secure a lower premium with your insurer by demonstrating that you’ve reduced your wind damage risk.
Regardless of any future changes to roof requirements for homeowners insurance in Florida, taking these preventative steps will keep your property — and family — safe.
In Florida, understanding your homeowners insurance also requires an understanding of Florida home insurance roof requirements. Your roof can have a significant impact on your premium based on factors like its age, the materials used and whether your insurer offers options such as stated value limit coverage or a roof surface reimbursement schedule for older roofs.
Coverage options and premium amounts for roofing can vary significantly between different insurers. Needless to say, even with a basic understanding of roof requirements for homeowners insurance in Florida, trying to find the right coverage option for your needs can be confusing.
This is where Worth Insurance can help. Our team of expert agents can help you find a quote that meets your specific needs — ensuring that you have adequate coverage for your roof with-out breaking the bank. Contact us today to get a quote and learn more about what you can do to protect your property.
The newly passed legislation in Florida's special session may allow insurance companies to patch rather than replace significant portions of someone's roof which was damaged by a hurricane.