As a homeowner, you prioritise the safety and security of your home and loved ones. You’ve invested time, effort, and money to create a haven that offers protection from the elements. However, when it comes to insurance coverage for your home, the condition of your roof is a major factor. Booking a roof inspection every 5 years can be as important as getting your car serviced when it comes to your insurance.

Your roof serves as the first line of defence against nature’s fury, shielding your home from rain, wind, hail, and more. But here’s the catch: if your insurance provider determines that your roof has not been adequately maintained, it could jeopardise your coverage in the event of a storm-related claim. That’s why it is crucial to prioritise a thorough roof inspection to ensure your insurance obligations are met and your home remains fully protected.

By taking the initiative to book a professional roof inspection, you demonstrate your commitment to upholding your insurance policy’s requirements. This proactive step can save you from the potential nightmare of facing substantial repair costs out of your pocket if your claim is denied due to alleged lack of roof maintenance.

Extreme weather events resulting in heavy scrutiny by insurance providers:

Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent and intense, and no homeowner is immune to their destructive potential. The past few years in Australia have demonstrated that more than ever before with some of the worst bushfires and floods in living history. From roof leaks and structural damage to interior flooding and compromised safety, the consequences can be devastating. That’s why it is absolutely vital to ensure your roof is in optimal condition, ready to withstand whatever Mother Nature may throw its way.

A comprehensive roof inspection conducted by a qualified professional will assess the overall integrity of your roof, identifying any existing or potential issues. From loose tiles and damaged flashing to hidden leaks and weakened support structures, a thorough examination will leave no stone unturned. By addressing any problems promptly, you not only enhance your home’s resilience but also fulfill your insurance obligations, guaranteeing that you are adequately covered when disaster strikes.

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Beyond insurance requirements, a roof inspection offers you peace of mind, knowing that your home is fortified against the forces of nature. It is an investment in the long-term protection of your most valuable asset, ensuring that your family’s safety and security remain uncompromised during even the most extreme weather conditions.

Illawarra roofer, Toby Johan has spent more than 20 years in the industry and hails from a family of roofing specialists. “I’ve seen it time and time again”, says Toby, “People who’ve paid their insurance premiums for decades without making a claim and then they get water coming in during a massive storm. The insurance company takes a look at the roof and decide that it hasn’t had any maintenance, so the claim gets denied.”

Insurance companies relying on lack of maintenance clauses:

The risk of a property owner’s insurance claim being rejected after a storm due to inadequate maintenance of their roof is a significant concern.  According to the Financial Rights Legal Centre, it is the second most common issue raised by individuals affected by storms and the third most common issue for consumers with extreme weather event insurance claims. Many insurers rely on defect clauses and alleged lack of maintenance or normal wear and tear to deny or reduce claims, which has resulted in a significant number of complaints.

The denial of claims based on defects or maintenance issues is a widespread problem across various extreme weather events and insurance providers. Financial Rights, an organisation assisting consumers, often comes across cases where independent reports contradict an insurer’s assertions about building defects or poor maintenance as the cause of damage. Insurers sometimes shift their denial reasons as evidence is presented to counter their primary assertion, which can make consumers cynical about the insurers’ intentions.

Are roof leaks covered when water enters your home?

Most insurance policies cover water damage that arises from sudden events such as burst pipes or water tanks, faulty appliances and extreme weather events when something like a tree falls onto a building and damages the roof structure during a storm. Your policy might mention the term “rainwater run-off”, but the definition of this water that flows over the ground or backs up because of a storm.

When excessive rainfall enters your home through the roof or your gutters becoming overwhelmed, the coverage can become a little less clear cut. The majority of insurers will offer coverage for storm damage, but use wording such as “providing your property is watertight, structurally sound and well maintained.” So, what does “well maintained” mean exactly?

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The problem for home owners:

Consumers often find it disheartening, especially those who have limited knowledge of insurance policies or when they believe they are not at fault for the damages. This issue becomes even more prominent during extreme weather events. Home building and contents insurance policies typically include exclusion clauses that state insurers will not pay for damages caused by faulty construction, design, or the homeowner’s failure to maintain the property properly. However, for insurers to rely on these exclusions, they must prove that the exclusion clause applies to the specific claim.

The common insurance exclusions are not well understood by consumers. Many individuals are baffled as to why their claim has been denied when a professional tradesperson installed or built the problematic element in their home. Furthermore, there is a lack of consensus between industry and consumers regarding what constitutes reasonable maintenance, as it can vary depending on the homeowner’s circumstances.

What if your insurance claim has been rejected due to a lack of roof maintenance?

Consumers have some protection against the overuse of exclusion clauses under the Insurance Contracts Act. Section 54 of the Act prohibits insurers from refusing to pay a claim based on the homeowner’s acts or omissions unless the insurer’s interests have been prejudiced. For example, if a homeowner’s lack of maintenance led to plant growth in the gutters, but the home was flooded due to a tree crashing through the roof, the insurer cannot deny the claim solely based on maintenance issues. However, consumers often require guidance to navigate these complex arguments.

How can home owners avoid water damage claims being rejected due to lack of maintenance?

Some insurers acknowledge that their reliance on defect clauses, maintenance, and wear and tear causes frustration among consumers. It’s a good idea to talk to your insurer about how you, as the property owner, can meet your obligations should any unexpected weather events arise in the future. Try requesting simplified definitions of defect, maintenance, and wear and tear clauses and ask questions, keeping a record of everything.

One of the easiest ways to keep your insurer of your back is by arranging for a qualified tradesperson to take a look at your property. A regular roof inspection is a good way to prove that you are actively upholding your obligations when it comes to maintenance. If you haven’t had a trained professional up on your roof in 5 years, now is the time to make that phone call. Of course, some aspects of your roof will require more regular maintenance, such as keeping your gutters clear. A roofer can not only identify problems such as cracked tiles and ridge capping or weakened support structures, but they can provide you with the records of property maintenance – documents that could end up saving you thousands if you’re required to make a claim.

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Don’t wait for a storm to expose the vulnerabilities of your roof and put your insurance coverage at risk. Take control of your home’s destiny by scheduling a professional roof inspection today. Safeguard your investment, meet your insurance obligations, and gain the confidence of knowing that you have done everything possible to protect your home in the face of unpredictable weather.

Remember, the time to act is now. Don’t leave the fate of your home to chance. Book a roof inspection and secure your peace of mind.