I was wondering how you feel about using homeowners insurance for getting a roof replaced. I have had insurance with the same company since 1995 and never made a claim. I have hail damage, and my roof is 20 years old. So, should I pay for the roof, or should I file insurance to have it fixed? Any advice would be very helpful.

The reason you have homeowners insurance is specifically for the damage you sustained in the hailstorm. If you have substantial damage, we would urge you to contact your insurance company and have them assess the damage. It could be substantial.

You may find that the cost to replace your roof and the amount your insurance company will cover for the damage may not make the claim with the insurance company worth it, but you should assess all that now.

For example, if the cost to replace your roof is $10,000 and the type of insurance you have will only pay the prorated amount of the roof based on the life remaining on it (according to the insurance adjusters), you might get only $3,333 on a 30-year roof. We don’t know what your insurance policy says, but it’s worth looking at. Also, if your deductible is $10,000, your claim will be within your deductible limits,  and you’ll end up paying the whole amount.

Having said all that, if you have a $250 deductible and the insurance company will pay the full $10,000 less your deductible, you will end up with a new roof and pay only your $250 deductible. Again, you’ve paid 20 years’ worth of premiums to cover yourself for this kind of an issue.

If we knew that our insurance company’s obligation was to replace the roof and have us pay only the deductible, we’d have been on the phone the day after the hail damage to make our claim.

If you’re concerned about having your premiums increased or having your insurance company drop you, we don’t think that will happen. We’ve heard of some insurance companies dropping their customers after one claim, but we don’t think that’s the rule but rather the exception, especially with reputable companies.

Usually, insurance companies drop customers when customers have repeated claims in one year or repeated claims in a two- or three-year period. Talk to your insurance agent about the situation. Ask questions about your insurance coverage, and talk to him or her about your claim and your concerns.

Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part Webinar and e-book series called “The Intentional Investor: How to be wildly successful in real estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her Web site, ThinkGlink.com.

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