In 2017, the Atlantic coast of the United States was hit with three of the top five costliest hurricanes ever (Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma). Early forecasts are predicting that the 2018 South Florida Hurricane Season will be busier than usual. And while roofs and roofing systems are among the most damaged portions of residential and commercial properties during hurricanes, insurance coverage for roofs is among the most misunderstood.
As a property owner, it is critical that you have your roof inspected as soon as possible after a hurricane if you think your roof may have suffered any damage. If your roof was damaged, immediately contact your insurance company to initiate a claim. And if there is any way for you to minimize any further damage (such as by covering your roof with the dreaded “blue tarp”), do so immediately.
When must your insurance company pay to replace your roof instead of repairing it? This depends on many factors – the most relevant is Florida’s Building Code Section 708.1.1, which states:
“Not more than 25% of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire roofing system or roof section conforms to requirements of this code.”
For older roofs, damage is more than 25% of the roof can require your insurance company to pay for an entirely new roof based on current Florida Building Code requirements. What this means to you is that if any particular “roof section” suffers greater than 25% damage, then you are entitled to a replacement of that entire “roof section.” A “roof section” is defined in the Florida Building Code as:
“A separating or division of a roof area by existing expansion joints, parapet walls, flashing (excluding valley), difference of elevation (excluding hips and ridges), roof type or legal description; not including the roof area required for a proper tie-off with an existing system.”
As a general rule of thumb, roofs with ridges or valleys are considered a single roof section based on the 25% evaluation. Roofs that contain different materials (such as tile and flat), or that have different elevations are considered to have multiple roof sections. The damage analysis is conducted on a section-by-section basis.
Insurance companies will often try to minimize roof damage or argue that certain damage was pre-existing to avoid paying to replace an entire roof. After all, it is cheaper for your insurance company to only pay for patching damaged areas than to pay to replace your roof. Insurance companies will take advantage of the unrepresented property owner in these situations. To have a fighting chance of obtaining the roof replacement you are entitled to, you need to level the playing field with your insurance company. Engaging professionals such as hurricane or insurance lawyers, public adjusters, and roofing consultants can drastically increase your likelihood of convincing your insurance company to pay for a full roof replacement. These professionals know how to evaluate roof damage, and also understand how these evaluations affect your insurance coverage.
When clients retain Andrew Wyman of Wyman Legal Solutions for roof damage claims, we quickly coordinate with a roofing consultant to inspect your roof and determine whether any tile “uplift” occurred during the hurricane. This may have caused damaged to areas below the tile, not readily apparent to the untrained eye. We then take the roofing consultant’s report and obtain a cost estimate for the replacement of the roof. We submit these reports to the insurance company on your behalf and handle all negotiations and arguments with their adjusters so that you obtain the compensation you are entitled to.
There are also other circumstances that require an insurance company to pay to replace your roof even if your roof did not suffer 25% damage. For example, did you know that if your roof tile is no longer manufactured and you are unable to match new tiles to your existing tiles that you may be entitled to a roof replacement?
If your roof was damaged by a hurricane or other storm, Andrew Wyman and Wyman Legal Solutions can help empower you to obtain the recovery that you deserve. For an initial consultation, please call (561) 361-8700 or schedule an appointment online today.