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Everything You Need to Know About Wind Damage to Your Roof

The 2016 hurricane season has been one of the busiest and costliest hurricane seasons in recent years. Hurricane Hermine, Tropical Storm Colin, and Hurricane Matthew have brought wind, flooding, and downed trees to Florida residents. Not all damage from a storm is immediately visible, and in some cases a roof can be damaged but not show signs for weeks or months after the fact.

Everything You Need to Know About Wind Damage to Your Roof

How a Hurricane Can Damage Your Roof

A hurricane can produce damaging winds, defined as “straight-line” winds. These winds are different from strong thunderstorm winds, which tend to come from multiple directions. Straight-line winds in excess of 50-60 miles per hour are considered damaging winds. While hurricane force or tropical storm winds can damage shingles on a roof, any strong storm can create damage.

How Does Wind Damage Roof Shingles?

Shingles are part of the protection system in your roof’s design. Attached by a sealant adhesive strip, shingles overlap each other and stay flat on the roof, allowing rain to run off the roof and keep it from penetrating into the underlayment.

High winds can disturb or destroy this protection system. Shingles can be torn off or removed, leaving the roof exposed to the elements. In other cases, strong winds may simply lift and curl back shingles, breaking the sealant adhesive strip. When this happens, the shingle will appear to be working as designed, while allowing rain into the underlayment, decking, or older layer of shingles. With this type of damage, it may take more than one high wind storm to create visible signs of damage. High winds can damage roofs and it may be weeks or months later when leaks are noticed. You may not lose a single shingle but still have considerable roof damage.

Other hurricane concerns can include hail and flying debris, which can impact shingles leaving dents or pockmarks or dislodge the granules that protect against rain and sun damage. Any open sites, such as soffit vents, gable ends, or improperly sealed windows or doors can allow water into the house. In these situations, mold and mildew can develop, leading to very serious problems.

What to Look for After a Storm

When the storm has safely passed, check for damage by walking around your home, photographing or taking detailed notes about any damage. Damaged, torn, bent, or missing shingles should be noted.

Check for hidden roof damage, including cracks, in gutters, roof flashing, chimneys, and vents, and near windows and doors. Fallen tree limbs, broken fences, damaged outdoor furniture, or hail damage should be photographed before removing debris.

In the interior of your house and the attic, pay close attention to any leaks, bubbles, or water spots. In many instances the damage is not apparent on the exterior of the home, yet leaks have begun to develop.

If you do notice any damages, it’s important to mitigate them by placing a tarp on the roof to prevent any other damages from occurring.

Does My Insurance Policy Cover Roof Damage?

Each insurance policy is different, and it is important to read yours in its entirety to understand what is covered and what is not.

If you have a “replacement cost” insurance policy, the insurance company is required to pay to repair or replace the roof, even if it is old or has had previous repairs. By law, your claim cannot be denied based solely on its age.

Insurance companies will send out an adjuster to inspect for any damage. In some cases, damage can be unseen or unnoticed, and the insurance company will indicate no damage is found. In these instances, it may be necessary for an independent inspector to come out and verify whether the roof is damaged or not. This can help ensure that your roof is inspected by someone who has your best interests in mind.  

Policyholders should know their rights and review their policies for coverage. The insurance adjuster’s opinion is not binding or final.  Don’t let an insurance company “low-ball” your claim.

If you have any questions, we can review your insurance policy.

We have largely dedicated our practice to representing homeowners and business owners with insurance claims and disputes. Please contact us for a free consultation if you or a friend or family member might have a damage claim or the insurance company has denied, delayed or underpaid your claim.