If you’re like most people, you probably never think about the actual physical condition of the roof over your head until there’s a reason to worry about it.
However, buying a new roof or replacing a roof is one of the biggest expenses that you’ll have as a homeowner, so you’ll want to make sure you know how to protect it with insurance and the services of a public adjuster.
If you have recently purchased a roof, re-roofed your house, or are in the market for a new roof, understanding the various types of warranties and what is covered by each is essential to making sure that you protect your investment.
And if you’re similar to most homeowners, you aren’t exactly an expert on the details of roofing warranties or other insurance policies that you need in case of accidents or natural disasters on your property.
A new roof isn’t cheap, after all. In fact, it might be one of the biggest investments that you make as a homeowner. And there are so many options to choose from that even deciding on the aesthetics might seem daunting, let alone making sure that your roofing investment is covered in the case of any damage or more extreme situations like a hurricane, tornado, hail, or similar weather disaster. Some roofs like cedar shake roofs have high durability and longevity that hold a great deal of value to property owners.
Keep in mind that when you’re paying for a roof and its associated warranties, you’re literally paying for the roof over you and your family’s heads – and what could be more essential than that.
Understand That No Two Roofing Warranties Are Alike
If you’re looking for an easy answer to your roofing warranty questions, we have to tell you that there isn’t one simple answer or solution, which is why we suggest speaking to a public adjuster who specializes in homeowners insurance policies before you make a final decision – and definitely before an accident happens or a disaster causes damage to your roof.
Remember that public adjusters work for you – not the insurance company. They have their own adjusters that exist to protect the insurance company. What’s more, most standard roofing warranties exist to protect the roofing company, not the homeowner.
This might be the most important thing for you to understand – that most warranties are in place to protect the roofing manufacturing companies and the roofing contractors who install it, not the property owner or homeowner.
What does a roof warranty cover?
What’s the difference between a contractor roof warranty and a manufacturer roof warranty?
This is where you consider manufacturer’s or Material-Only Warranty vs. Labor-Only Warranty vs. System (Labor and Material) Warranty, also known as workmanship warranties.
If you are purchasing a new or replacement roof, chances are you will be offered both types of warranties, the length and overall coverage of each is subject to the type of roofing covers you’re buying, the materials and manufacturer(s) used, and the contractor who’s responsible for actually installing the roof.
Of course, you should ensure that you have the most comprehensive coverage possible, and for that it’s necessary to discuss with your insurance agent as well as your neighborhood public adjusters if you have any questions about what exactly you’re paying for in regard to your roofing warranty.
What type of roof warranty am I getting?
There are two types of roofing warranties, manufacturing warranties and workmanship warranties. The first – manufacturing warranties – covers the roofing products themselves. The 2nd covers the installation and workmanship involved in turning those raw materials into your roof. There’s also the option of a full system warranty that combines both options, but this is generally the most expensive.
It’s essential to understand what type of warranty (or warranties) that you have and what they cover when you’re shopping around for a new roof, or buying a home or property with existing warranties.
How long does a roofing warranty last?
A manufacturer warranty or material-only warranty covers only the manufacturing defects, not the installation. There are a several common options for a manufacturer’s warranty, such as a 25 year warranty, 30 year warranty, or lifetime warranty (prorated).
This only covers the actual roofing materials themselves, however, not the installation and workmanship involved. This is usually the least costly option, but opens you up to the most risk.
Which is why if your roofing materials somehow fail or fall apart without an installation or workmanship issues – and that can be proven with an inspection – you have a case. However, the vast majority of warranties exist to protect the manufacturers and roofing contractors who actually do the work, so workmanship warranties or similar policies are essential in order to protect your investment.
Workmanship Warranty Or Labor-Only Warranty
The workmanship warranty covers the actual labor involved in the installation of your roof – and that is often where issues arise. Many roofing companies pay their workers for the speed of installation, so they are motivated to complete the project quickly rather than to do a thorough job.
There may be project management issues, untrained workers, unlicensed roofers, and other problems that may cause the roof to eventually fail prior to the manufacturer’s warranty expiring.
Even more, these problems may not be immediately obvious to homeowners. The National Roofing Contractor Association reports that these mistakes often don’t show up until the 6th year after the roof was installed.
What’s more, many roofing contractors don’t stay in business long term, or change names and personnel often enough that it makes these warranties complicated to enforce. So clearly a workmanship or labor only warranty has plenty of value, but there’s also more costs and risks associated with them.
Service Without Charge
A key part of the workmanship or labor only warranty is the ability to require the original installers to come back and fix any issues that crop up as a result of their installation mistakes. Accordingly, as an informed and savvy home or property owner, you need to pay close to attention to the workmanship warranty for your new roof.
The phrase you absolutely need to know is “service without charge” which is the length of time a contractor will fix or potentially even replace a damaged roof. Usually this time period is between one to two years, but of course it varies according to each warranty.
Note that “service without charge” clauses often stipulate that the original contractor is the only company working on the roof, since naturally they can’t be responsible for problems that arose from another’s company’s work.
Full System Warranty
This is another typical roof warranty that is generally an upgrade from a manufacturer’s warranty, but doesn’t cover everything that a workmanship warranty normally does.
It typically covers the material but also things like flashings, metal work, and other accessories utilized during the roofing installation. They also usually cover the full cost (including labor) for any roof leak repairs or fixes during the warranty time period.
Know that these types of warranties often don’t cover installation errors or problems resulting from faulty workmanship, so you may want to consider an additional workmanship or labor only warranty if you’re having new roofing installed on your home.
How long does a roofing warranty last?
Generally, roofing manufacturer’s warranties last from twenty to fifty years. Of course, this depends on a whole variety of factors including the expected length of time that your roofing materials are meant to last.
Something else to consider is that roofing manufacturers are pretty savvy, so the chances of the product itself failing is pretty unlikely as long as you are going with a reputable manufacturer.
However, the best materials in the world are also subject to the quality of the installation – as well as the local weather and potential for natural disasters or acts of God – so this is where more comprehensive insurance coverage and workmanship warranties come into play.
It’s also valuable to know that a “lifetime warranty” is an unclear term that should potentially be avoided, since there’s really no hard and fast limit there. These warranties are typically prorated out to a small fraction of the replacement cost of the roof.
For instance, it could mean the length of time you live in the property you purchased the roof for, the length of time the property itself stands, or really any other definition that’s somewhat applicable. Do you want to let the literal roof over your family’s head depend on something so questionable?
Does home warranty cover roof?
You need to be aware of how long your roofing warranty covers your roof as well as installation or construction defects. Know that most roofing issues are not related to construction or installation problems. Manufacturers know that 25 year or 30 year roofing materials will generally last that long – if not longer – if they are installed properly.
You also need to know how types of warranties work, and if you have a manufacturer’s warranty, a workmanship warranty, and how long each warranty is. If you purchased the roof, you can arrange these warranties with your contractor / manufacturers; however, if you acquire the roofing and its warranties via a purchase that’s something to consider before.
Ask yourself – how long ago was this roof installed? Has it been inspected since? All these questions should be answered before you make a final decision.
Don’t just focus on the roof warranty length – look at all the facets or the ins and outs of what is covered before you relax and think you’re all good with with a home warranty that covers roof and materials.
What happens with wind or hail roof damage?
Roofing warranties can potentially cover wind or hail roof damage, but that’s not always the case. If you live in an area where wind storms, hail storms, and/or tornadoes occur on a regular basis, then you need to ensure your roofing materials are meant to withstand common local natural occurrences.
While this won’t necessarily protect you from physical damage when major disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes occur, you can be more comfortable and less worried knowing that at least your insurance will likely cover these stressful situations.
Roof leaks, hail damage, and associated long term water damage or mold can become a much bigger problem than initially anticipated, which is why it is so important to understand what your warranties and insurance policies cover – as well as how a public adjuster can potentially help you save money and a lot of stress at the same time!
Know that most roofing warranties may cover leak repair, but not damage from high winds, hail, or puncture damage. The latter of which is certainly important if your roof is subject to roof traffic of any kind; for example, if you have a rooftop deck.
Note that you should also consider that warranties that cover hail, high winds, or puncture damage often require certain types of materials that may not be the standard options in your area, so be sure to discuss with your roofing contractor before they begin their process.
What can void a roof warranty?
One of the biggest issues that causes a roofing warranty to be voided or an insurance company to decline to cover damage is that it is improperly installed.
What’s more, pond and water damage, acts of god (also known as major natural disasters), consequential damages, existing moisture, improper flat roof repairs, unauthorized roof repairs or alterations, hot roofs, improper ventilation, incorrect installation, antennas and satellite dishes on the roof, improper roof cleaning by pressure washing, and installing new roofing over the old roof without properly removing it can all cause issues.
And these are hardly the only potential problems. Hence the need to research and potentially speak to the experts before you finalize your roofing choice and the associated warranty(s).
How long does a roofing warranty last?
The length of a warranty ranges from a few years to over 30 years, depending on the type of warranty and whether or not you’re starting from scratch (e.g. you’ve purchased a new roof) or you are inheriting a roofing warranty on a property you’ve purchased (a detail you should definitely research before you finalize the deal).
Of course, you need to be aware that you likely have more than one type of warranty on the same roof – the aforementioned manufacturer’s and workmanship warranties.
What Do You Do When You “Own” A Failed Roof?
A homeowner with a failed roof may first focus on to the manufacturer for relief, would quickly find out that such mistakes void the product warranty.
In addition, roofing manufacturers issue detailed installation instructions, and if the roof fails—in the first year, the sixth, or the 15th — and it can be demonstrated that those installation instructions weren’t followed, the product warranty is similarly voided.
While a major roof repair is not typically included in standard warranty packages, small roof leaks might be included especially if you have full system warranty in place. Though you should keep in mind that most warranties only offer limited roof leak coverage.
The standard process is to file a roof insurance claim for the leak with your insurance company.
Your insurance company will then assign a roofing contractor to inspect the roof damage, but the only repairs covered are the patching of the leak itself.
So, if your roof requires a complete replacement, most warranties or insurance policies do not cover this cost. This can be very confusing for some homeowners, since replacement is covered for other home systems such as a furnace or central air unit, but roofing is in a category all its own.
It’s also essential to understand the differences between the policies and coverage for a new roof and an existing roof. When you purchase a warranty or policy for a property that’s new to you but doesn’t require a new roof, the insurance company will need to know the age and condition of the roof, this will most likely determine the extent of their coverage.
Pre-existing conditions are not recognized under all policies. In addition, even the most extensive home warranties typically do not cover structural problems, which generally include roofing damage or issues.
If you’ve recently purchased a new roof, or you are looking to purchase roof warranty coverage, understanding the ins and outs can be confusing. And it’s an important and expensive decision!
However, speaking to your local neighborhood public adjuster or experienced contractors and asking all the questions you have before you actually make a final decision can save you a lot of trouble, stress, and heartache in the long run. So be prepared.