Roofing 101

What stops you from making a claim on your roof?

When it comes to your roof you want to make sure that you are covered. It is important that you understand the different types of warranties out there, especially if you want to save money if anything should go wrong. When it comes to warranties it isn’t as simple as you may think. There are a lot of common mistakes that homeowners do where it can actually affect whether you qualify or not for a warranty.

Typically there are two types of warranties and both warranties are tied together to protect varying aspects of your roof. So, let’s take a closer look at the two main roofing warranties, Manufacturer vs. Workmanship Warranty. 

What is a manufacturer warranty?

A roofing manufacturer warranty is when the materials for your roof, such as shingles, are covered in the event that the materials are defective. This is one of the most common roofing warranties you’ll find available which is also why it is important that you ask your contractor about the manufacturing company they work with. You will want to ask which company they use because the quality of your materials and the company itself will have an impact on the longevity of your roof and of course on what they do and do not cover.

For instance, roofing shingles come with a basic limited lifetime warranty, which is the industry standard of 25 years. You also have the option to purchase extended warranties that will provide additional coverage for an extra cost. One example is when a normal warranty offers 20 years of material coverage, whereas an extended warranty’s coverage period could cover up to 50 years. 

Warranty coverages differ for every manufacturer and roofing contractor. In most cases, a lifetime warranty means you’re covered as long as you own your home. The degree of protection you receive depends on the definition of “limited,” and this varies depending on the manufacturer itself.

What is covered in a manufacturer warranty? 

  • Most manufacturer warranties strictly cover the cost of defective materials

  • Most manufacturers cover the cost of replacing defective shingles for the first few years and then offer partial coverage from that point on. If any shingles are found to be defective during the initial period, the manufacturer provides you with replacement shingles at no cost. This initial coverage also includes labor costs for installation of the replacement shingles but it doesn’t cover tear-off and disposal of the defective shingles. If a failure happens during the prorated period, you’ll receive just a portion of the cost or a lesser amount of new shingles.

  • Industry-wide, these standard manufacturer warranties only provide coverage against factory defects; they don’t cover shingles that prematurely fail because mistakes were made during installation, or issues with any other components your roofer installed, such as ice and water shield, underlayment, flashing, or ventilation products. 

What is a workmanship warranty?

A workmanship warranty covers any installation errors from the contractor. This typically covers the cost of labor and any materials needed to make necessary repairs. Workmanship warranty should also cover any related damages done to the home’s interior, as well as your furnishings. The contractor who installs your roofing plays a key role in your roof performance and longevity, not only that but your workmanship warranty can affect your manufacturer warranty. This is why it’s so important for homeowners to choose a roofing company that offers both a material and workmanship warranty. 

Also, while your material may carry a 25 year, 30 year or lifetime warranty, it doesn’t mean the workmanship is guaranteed as long. So you want to make sure that you know how long your workmanship warranty lasts. The length of this type of warranty can vary depending on the contractor itself and this may vary between manufacturers due to climate and roofing material. Climates that experience extreme temperature variations may have shorter lifetime warranty coverage because the materials can be damaged much easier than in a more moderate climate. Generally, roofing company warranties are for about 5 years. 

Why do roof insurance claims get denied? 

Your roof is a significant investment, which is why getting stuck with a voided manufacturer’s warranty is the last thing you want to happen. Having your roof insurance claim denied means that the warranty does not cover the particular damage to your roof. Unfortunately, warranties must strictly abide by their terms, or else it would mean losses to the company and contractor. For this reason, it’s important that you understand the full terms and conditions of your warranties. A warranty only covers manufacturer defects and labor errors, not any negligence on the homeowner’s part.

What are the reasons that a warranty claim can be rejected? 

There are typical reasons why most parties reject warranty claims. We will provide you with insight on how you can overcome these errors before moving ahead with your manufacturer and contractor.  

Some situations warranties may not cover your roof include:

  • Freak or rare accidents like airplane crashes, structural debris damage from nearby structures, a building collapsing, etc. 

  • Animal habitat creation damage such as nesting birds or small animals digging against the roofing material. Damage caused by birds, vermin, insects, and rodents may also not be covered, this is because it is often considered the homeowner’s responsibility to both monitor and protect their roof against animal invasions and other types of slowly-occurring damage. 

  • Small and non-destructive leaks (some manufacturers will provide protection for immensely destructive leaks, others won’t). Leaks should be reported to the manufacturer immediately. Warranties often require that homeowners notify the factory within 30 days of the discovery of a leak. Failure to do this within the prescribed time frame can void the warranty.

  • Mismanaged or poorly maintained roof. Many roof manufacturer warranties require routine maintenance, therefore it is up to the homeowner to ensure that you regularly have your roof checked by an experienced, reliable roofer because this is key to keeping most warranties valid.  

  • Unkempt Ventilation, proper ventilation in the attic prevents hot air and moisture from getting trapped under your roof, allowing you to enjoy a more comfortable indoor environment and improved roof performance. Heat at the bottom of your shingles can cause premature wear and tear, while moisture can wreak havoc on your roof, especially in winter. (Check out our video – Why is proper ventilation essential for your roof)

  • Mold, mold is often caused by homeowner neglect and a lack of proper roof maintenance. For example, if there is a minor roof leak that you ignore, it could result in mold growth that spreads throughout your roof. When you file a claim, the insurance company will determine how long the mold has existed and if it is found to be an old problem, your claim will likely be denied. Depending on your policy, mold removal may be covered if the source of the mold is a covered peril.

  • If you go on your roof or make your own fix may void warranties completely. Most manufacturer warranties require that roof repairs be performed only by roofers who have earned the manufacturer’s approval. If a homeowner spots a shingle that needs replacement, it’s best to call in a certified roofer to handle the job.

  • Doubling or tripling layers of shingles, believe it or not, this is actually a very common practice that is done to save money for the homeowner. However, in the long run, it may turn out to be more costly. If a second or third layer of shingles was added to your roof, this may disqualify your roof from insurance coverage. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy with your insurance agent to see if exclusions such as these apply to your roof.

  • Unqualified roofing contractors, one reason for having your roof insurance claim denied is due to an unqualified contractor installing your roof. You want to make sure that your contractor is registered, licensed, and works in accordance with your building codes. Check out our video WHY INSURANCE IS IMPORTANT WHEN HIRING A ROOFING CONTRACTOR and COMMON MISTAKES ROOFERS MAKE.

  • Wear and tear, over time it is inevitable that your roof will experience some deterioration. If the damage found by your insurance company is caused by normal wear and tear, your insurance claim may be denied. This often happens when your roof has reached or surpassed its expected lifespan. Depending on the type of roof you have, this can differ. For example, wood shake roofs have an average lifespan of about 30 years, while fiber cement shingles last about 25 years, and asphalt shingle roofs have an average lifespan of about 20 years.

  • Improper Installation, roofing manufacturers have strict guidelines about the installation of their roofs. This is because even with high-quality materials, improper installation can significantly shorten the lifespan of the roofing system. To ensure that you experience the full benefits of their products, manufacturers specify things like the length and number of nails used per shingle. If your roofer fails to follow these guidelines when installing your new roof, your warranty might be voided. For more about this check out our video Best Video to Watch Before Choosing a Contractor and Workmanship Warranties

Why is professional roof maintenance important? 

One of the biggest causes of roofing problems is a poorly maintained roof. Homeowners often do not realize that their roof has suffered damage until it begins to leak or literally fall apart. In fact, by the time a leak is evident, the damage is usually much more severe than it appears. Even a small leak in your roof can cause water to infiltrate your attic damaging wood framing, insulation, and flooring. To keep your roof in optimal condition and avoid the risk of a roof insurance claim being denied, you need to hire professional roof contractors to perform routine regular inspections/ maintenance. The benefit of this isn’t just ensuring your warranty claim but also with regular maintenance, your roof can last longer. Regular roof maintenance not only increases the lifespan of your roof but can also minimize common problems like leaks. 

How often should your roof be inspected? 

How often you should have your roof inspected will depend on a number of factors, such as the age of your roof, the climate where you live, and the type of roofing materials used. But on average every 1-2 years is best, especially if the roof is old.