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Will Storm Damage Insurance Cover the Cost to Install a New Roof?

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s question comes from a caller who told us that a storm ripped off the roof on her home, and said “I have storm damage insurance but the insurance carrier won’t pay but a fraction of what it will cost to put on a new roof, can you help me?”

When people purchase insurance, they usually do so to protect themselves from catastrophic loss due to foreseeable, but relatively rare events.

Insurance companies love to take your premiums, but when it comes to paying money out on a loss, they too often look for every possible excuse to avoid paying you.

One issue that comes up with storm damage insurance is – can you make an insurance company buy you a brand-new roof after a storm damages the roof, even if it was a 20-year old roof before the storm?

Our answer is that “it depends”. If you purchase replacement cost coverage, usually the answer is yes. You pay extra for replacement cost coverage. The insurance company took your money so it should have to pay whatever it costs to replace what the storm damaged.

But all too frequently, even though you purchase replacement cost coverage, you might hear the insurance company speak about depreciation and wear and tear deductions. If you hear such terms in response to a replacement cost claim, you need to promptly call an attorney. If you continue to talk to the insurance company on your own without an attorney, the odds are high that it will continue to try to take advantage of you.

If you buy replacement cost coverage for fire, and your place burns down and is a total loss, you should in most cases be able to make the insurance carrier pay to rebuild, even if it costs $250,000 to rebuild, and the house was only worth $25,000 on the open real estate market before the fire.

In total loss cases insurance companies know you’re not going to listen to them talk about depreciation. Why? Because clearly EVERYTHING needs to be replaced.

With roof storm damage though many companies try to get away with talking about wear and tear and depreciation, because usually only a portion of the roof is missing. If in such a case a company says, we’ll patch the roof at whatever it costs to replace the damaged portion, it somewhat sounds plausible to many homeowners. But, when you pay for replacement coverage you should get it.

A house with a patchwork roof, with one color new shingles in one area, and a different old looking area of shingles in another area, is not going to sell for the same amount as house with a single uniform color roof with matching shingles. So, in most cases, unless there is unusual wording in the policy, replacement cost under the law should entitle the homeowner to replacement of the entire roof. Not just a patched-up roof.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.