Homeowners Guide on How to Get Your Insurance to Pay for Roof Replacement

Typical Price Range To Install A New Roof
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When it comes to asking homeowner insurance to cover roofing damages from a storm, most homeowners get the short end of the stick in terms of quality, often without even realizing what is going on.

Let’s take an in-depth look at how this process works for the three parties involved: 1. Property owner 2. Contractor 3. Insurance company.

I realize that the majority of you reading this will be homeowners, so I plead for you to finish this guide, because it can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on roof repairs.

Typical Price Range Average:
See costs in your area

Insurance companies do not pay for you to do high quality roofing. If you want to do it right you may want to get away from insurance work. Or you will have to lower your standards.

Advice from a Roofing Forum Discussion to a contractor looking to get into insurance work.

Roofing Cost Manipulated By Homeowners Insurance

Roof repair cost in different regions

Its important to realize that there are significant variations in roofing prices across the US. They are lowest in the Midwest and South.

Regional Roofing Price Differences in US

Regional Roof Cost Differences in US

The Southern regions are 7-16% below the national average, while the Pacific is 18% above it.

The Midwest falls slightly below national average. This is due to having many large metropolitan cities and also the inclusion of many northern territories of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakotas, where there are fewer storms and other natural disasters.

While these areas have a lower cost of living than say the North East or the West Coast, roofing costs here are disproportionately lower than the national average, because many of the repaired or new roofs are paid for by insurance companies!

However, instead of being a good thing, this is usually an indicator of low quality. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance is in part responsible, and here is why:

These regions are plagued by storms, tornadoes, hail, etc. All these natural disasters damage roofs, and big insurance companies have to pay for damages covered under homeowner policies.

However, corporations are NOT in the business of giving money away. Consequently, they do everything they can within and (sometimes) slightly outside the legal boundaries to save money.

How can homeowner’s insurance pay LESS for roofing, and why do contractors agree to this?

xactimate roof estimating software

Introducing Xactimate software – the most clever way for the insurance industry to save on claims, and to screw roofers / homeowners in the process!

This is an estimating tool that is OWNED by the big insurance companies. It is the ONLY program they use to price the scope of work.

Here are two quotes from their website:

“Xactimate helped contractors and insurance adjusters estimate repairs”


“Today 22 of the top 25 property insurance companies in the U.S. and 10 of the top 10 Canadian insurers use Xactware property insurance claims tools.”

You can see this for yourself on their about us page.

What does this really mean?

Big homeowners insurance establishments got together and organized a joint venture – a company that “owns” Xactimate Solutions Inc. Basically, they have set up and are in control of specific prices that they “agree” to pay for work.

Effectively, they have FORCED the roofing industry to agree to these as well (we will discuss the FORCED part below). In large, part this is possible thanks to the presence of roofer storm chasers in the most vulnerable areas of the country.

How roof storm chasers scam homeowners and drive prices down

Storm Chaser Roofers

Here is how the process works. After the storm or another natural disaster, a homeowner sits on his porch and there is a line of roofers outside the door looking to get his business.

He gets a few quotes, and tentatively chooses a company to do the repair. Then, the contractor meets with the insurance adjuster to go over the scope of work that will be covered.

The problem is that items in Xactimate are priced well below market levels. What is even worse is that roofers cannot afford to work at these levels, if they have ALL of the following:

-legal workers
-liability and worker’s compensation insurances.

Consequently, most guys that do insurance work hire illegal workers, and do not have appropriate insurances – THEY CAN’T AFFORD either. They often put up ads like the one below, to attract homeowners desperate for a quick and cheap fix.

Roof replacement ads

Now, this is where things get messy. This is how insurance companies pit dishonest roofers against the homeowners, save big bucks and walk away clean:

1) Adjusters usually refuse to pay for many necessary items to do a proper roof repair.

2) Homeowner has a deductible (usually $1000), which she does not want to pay and she definitely does not want to pay MORE than this deductible.

3) Although it’s illegal, most storm roofers will agree (and they often advertise) to cover the deductible. This basically allows the homeowner to refuse working with a legit roofing business, who won’t eat the deductible. After all, there is a huge line outside, waiting to get the job, no matter what it takes.

4) Whoever lands the contract usually covers the deductible, and collects whatever scraps the homeowner insurance agrees to throw them.

So everyone is happy – right?

Homeowner gets a free roof, contractor gets the job, and the insurance company saves big money.

No – only the insurance company is happy! The misinformed/ignorant property owner thinks he got a “free” roof, and the pro knows that he made a couple of bucks profit, because he skipped on the important parts that make a good, long lasting repair job.

Inevitable fallout from the cheapest roofing

Since the adjuster refused to pay for many important items, the pro either did not do them outright (excluded these items from the contract beforehand, as he already knows the adjuster will likely not cover them), or he secretly did not do these, but said that he did (liar liar).

So the homeowner gets really crappy, cheap shingles that only look ok. She does not know that there is no underlayment, or that ventilation is poor, or that flashing is not done correctly, or that the roof is not nailed properly, etc, etc. The homeowner will not know this roof starts to leak in a few months and the contractor who performed the work is nowhere to be found.

But what did the homeowner really expect? He did not want to pay the deductible or for the extra but necessary items, which the adjuster refused to cover. In turn, it was not possible for the contractor to do a good job at the offered rate of pay.

Its important to note that even the best homeowners insurance will have this problem, because this is simply the nature of the game. The goal is to make as much money as possible, not fix your roof.

How can all this happen, why is it all “legal”?

Greed and Ignorance will make us rich! should be the corporate motto of the insurance industry. Roof manufacturers and insurance companies have long ago realized that most people are cheap, greedy and ignorant, and have learned how to capitalize on both – social psychology at work!

– Stingy homeowners will not want to pay extra for quality materials and labor.

– If a roofer tries to convince them that some items are necessary, the adjuster will in turn persuade them that the contractor is trying to run a scam, or even worse – commit insurance fraud.

– Once again there is always a line of other illegal contractors outside the door who are like vultures looking to get any roof they can. And the homeowner, who is facing a $1,000 deductible and maybe another $1,000 in necessary upgrades will usually go with the “free” roof, so legit roofers can’t effectively compete for insurance work.

– Since insurance work is VERY subjective, the adjuster has the freedom to refuse to pay for practically everything but roofing shingles. This way, insurance companies can operate within shady boundaries of “legal”, but are usually walking away, saving big.

Xactimate runs the show

In the end, this all comes back to Xactimate pricing – the most clever invention of the insurance industry (the home related sector at least).

Once again, since they own the software, they exclusively control “market rates”. But shouldn’t the market itself control the rates??? Yes, but it really doesn’t.

The problem here is that regulators have no legal authority to set prices, and no control of what the program establishes as a fair price for each item. Also, there are so many items that are unique to each ZIP code – not even state, that no one knows what the “market rate” really is outside of a 50 mile radius.

Moreover, there are not enough regulators to go around and check up on every incident. Most contractors never complain, while most property owners are happy with a “free roof” since they don’t even know that they just got screwed by the roofer AND the insurance.

How to make insurance pay for your new roof!

Roof Installation

In a nutshell, here is how to make your insurance company pay for a quality new roof, or a repair that will last.

The key is to hire a contractor who understands how the insurance claim process works. This way he can put in proper supplements (additional items) into the claim, so that it gets approved. In this case, you can be sure that your roof will be properly installed.

A public adjuster (PA) may and probably should be involved in estimating the cost of repairs, to put your insurance adjuster in check. While you may spend $300-500 on the PA’s services, he can get you another 50-100% in supplements on top of what the insurance has initially approved.

It is important to keep in mind that it is the adjuster’s job to pay as little money as possible on a claim. Often, these people know very little about roofing and it is your contractor’s and PA’s job to point out the necessary items needed to put a durable and long lasting roof over your house.

References: All of the above is not my invention. On my favorite forum (www.roofing.com) you can find many discussions about the insurance work in the roofing business. I highly recommend you read these posts, and look at price figures.

Here are a few:

Xactimate market manipulation

Adjusters vs. Roofers

There are many more, if you search for “xactimate” or “insurance work” or “supplementing”. Read some posts by one of my favorite members there – Authentic-Dad. In fact, I will ask him to weigh in on this and provide his perspective.

The quote at the top is from Grumpy – another veteran on the forum.

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Author: Leo B
For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.
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26 comments on “Homeowners Guide on How to Get Your Insurance to Pay for Roof Replacement

  1. Great article but not what I was searching for and maybe you can help point me in right direction. We just bought a 100 year old home with original slate roof. Trying to get home owners insurance, we keep running into roadblocks where agents contracts list our roof as concrete/clay tiles. We are in New Orleans and with possible wind hail damage, if we filed a claim, could insurance company refuse to use slate for replacement? Thanks for your help

    1. Karen,

      Insurance companies will use ALL and EVERY possible excuse and/or clause to avoid paying a claim. You are not their friend. You are a cash register or an ATM, in the eyes of insurance companies. Operate with that in mind.

      Your roof should definitely be classified as natural slate, and NOT tile.

      Best of luck.

  2. Thank you sooo much for helping homeowners! Great information and I will follow your advice in choosing a contractor for the process of a roof repair.

    I need a new roof, but unable to afford it. My home was built in 2004. The ceiling leaks in a couple of rooms and there are visible water stains on the ceilings of other rooms (just waiting to leak). I am depending upon my insurance company for a new roof. I am hesitant to call my insurance company for fear they will refuse to pay for it. What shall I tell them when I make the call?

  3. We need to get our roof fixed. It started leaking in the last storm. Thanks for talking about how to get your insurance company to actually pay for a roofing claim.

  4. My roof needs repair, but I’m not sure if my insurance will cover everything. Thank you for this informative information. I never knew that most insurance company uses Xactimate software for their estimation cost.

  5. I started reading this thinking ‘Man, this is going to stir up some debate’. Sure enough, the comments don’t dissapoint!

    We’re a roofing company in Alabama, so we fall into that category of being 7-16% below the national average like the article mentions. ‘Storm chasing’ is a very real thing in the south…

    We find the whole process to be a bit frustrating to say the least, but working with insurance is a service we do offer our customers.

    One thing we don’t do though is ‘eat the deductible’ and install an inferior product to make up the difference. We’ve lost business to that sort of practice, but what can you do?

    It gets really interesting when they hold a mortgage on the property and you have to get sign-off from BOTH insurance AND the lender.

    They definitely make the whole process next to impossible to figure out for the ‘average homeowner’.

  6. We would like to find a roofing contractor to fix the wind damage of our roof. Your information about how to get coverage by our insurance company is very helpful. We’ll make sure to follow your advice as we are choosing a contractor.

  7. I really appreciate your information that if a roofer understands the insurance claim process, they can help you get some coverage for roofing services. It would be really helpful to get 50-100% off the total cost of reroofing my house. We bought this new house 4 years ago and the roof tiles are noticeably curling and letting in the water now, so we really need to get it replaced.

  8. Former independent catastrophe/insurance adjuster here. This article is a joke. First of all, the first estimate and draft is by no means final. Supplement payments are made all the time. And this is due to the fact an adjuster can only write an estimate for what we can visually see during the inspection. We aren’t allowed to start tearing out drywall to see if a gator bite will fix a old galvanized pipe leak nor allowed to remove a toilet to see if the closet collar is busted or if the toilet just needs a new wax ring. A estimate and photos have to be submitted by a CTR (contractor) or the adjuster meets with a CTR to conduct a new inspection and then revise the estimate. Xactimate pulls pricing based on the DOL (date of loss) AKA storm date. Also, Xactimate pricing is updated monthly as of May 2017, which is based on zip code/region. So if the CTR can truly justify on paper why there estimate was higher than mine (not just 23SQ and a price) I would revise my estimate but that rarely happened because a CTR rarely was able to justify their estimate, line item by line item.

    As far as the roofing topic goes. Insurance pays for like, kind and quality. Does not pay for upgrades, unless required by code. Also, it is up to the CTR to provide the code upgrades with said township. Ice and water shield is not code everywhere, and if it’s not code, that’s considered an upgrade and will not be on the estimate. If something isn’t code and is not currently on the home, it’s considered an upgrade.

    In Xactimate, the lowest quality shingle is a 25 year shingle. Even if the current shingle on the roof is a 20 year shingle, they get a 25 year.

    I’ve written estimates for many of roofs based solely on the fact the shingle was a recall and discontinued, Owen Corning providence being the main one.

    And come on, it’s a deductible. Not something you pay to the insurance company. If you have a $1,000.00 deductible and a $13,000.00 estimate, you will be issued a $12,000.00 draft. And yes, deprecation is withheld until you get a sign contract stating the work will be completed by a contractor of your choice or when the work is completed.

    1. Matthew…
      Please read my situation & give me some advice.
      THANK YOU in advance if you happen to see & reply.

  9. Very detailed information about roofing and insurance which help people to estimate their own expenses.

    Thanks from
    Gkm Roofing Chennai

  10. Roofing is indeed costly. It is also important for one to know their rights to their homeowner’s insurance. Thank you for sharing this helpful blog.

  11. I knew there was something up. See in missouri in my town i bet 70 houses have been done on insurance claims. Basically 2 comapnies doing all the work. Off and on in 2 days but ive been on em and oh my. What can the lil.guy do? I used to get it to where the home owner was the one roofing it (im just a freind helping) and they would get a kick back when all said and done. Not anymore heck they are doing roofs for 110 a square and paying 15 square to lay em. Unreal.

  12. it sounds like you need to figure out xactimate

    The only time you need a PA is if they’re denying actual damage he can get it overturned and hire the right professionals to build your case and generally works upon contingency.

    When it comes to policy interpretation the insureds policy states that they will pay for your contractor of choice to complete the repairs. If you can find a line item in the system for it they’ll allow it. I’m getting about 500/ sq and averaging 40% on all my claims through xactimate.

    Have you ever considered shingle manufacturers to be behind all the madness? We can go to the moon and back, we can clone body organs.. but we can’t figure out a product that can withstand a little bit of hail or wind? it’s called planned obsolescence. Designed to fail. And insurnace companies have no reason to not want to pay out a bunch of claims it makes them look good and they get to justify raising everyone’s rates at the end of the year not just to recover loss but also of course for growth.

    Malarkey is one of the only companies that makes an Impact resistant shingle to wishstand hail and heavy winds and I can slam this stuff in a hail market and still see good margins because of Xacitmate. Malarkey is also the heaviest product in the market with the best scotguard color warranty. Your also not going to be their first lawsuit. That’s correct, malarkey is the only shingle manufacturer to have never been sued. A good choice if you ask me who I want standing behind my 30-50 yr product.

    Maybe you need to dig a little deeper. Maybe you need to quit trying to be dishonest. Shit man. Nothing wrong with xactimate go sell some more jobs.

    1. @ anonymous

      You see, the problem is – homeowners don’t have access to xactimate, so they cannot find all the line items. They also do not know what to look for even if they did have access. So they are pretty much left at mercy of an adjuster to give them a fair deal. And while there are some nice (honest) adjusters, still they work for Ins. Cos. so in most cases they will not include ALL possible payable items, leaving the homeowner short (not whole), because it’s the adjuster’s job to settle a case with as little payout as possible.

      Sure, if you show the items are part of the claim they have to honor it. But, adjusters / insurance companies will not go out of their way to give out extra money.

      And again, since xactimate is owned by insurance companies, they set whatever prices they want, and they are not really in line with market prices.

      As for asphalt shingles being “designed to fail” – I completely agree on this. It’s the greatest American business model of all times. Consumables on massive scale. And a topic for a separate conversation..

      Lastly – I don’t see how I’m dishonest. 99.999% of homeowners don’t even know that xactimate exists. They meet with an adjuster when they have a claim and usually take whatever he gives them. Many are actually afraid to file a claim, fearing increase in premiums. So no – I will not quit.

      And shit man – you can actually provide a name instead of being “anonymous”…

  13. As a homeowner, I’m very cautious with who does repairs to my home. My home just went through Hurricane Matthew, I’m hoping I do not have issues with the insurance adjuster. I’m honest and I’m not looking for a hand out, but I expect him to pay for all the damages and not short change me!

  14. I am a retired Insurance Adjuster…and never not once was instructed to try to save money by an Insurance Company. The two very major Carriers I worked for always wanted to pay for quality repairs and replacements, add for difficult access to the roof, toe boards, scaffolding where required, debris removal, waste, etc. At the same time, we were trained not to overpay.

    The author of this article is full of crap! Apparently He was not allowed to steal his way through, therefore tries to trash the Insurance Industry as a whole.

    Should be ashamed! I proudly paid an adequate amount to my Insureds! I enjoyed a very high Satisfaction Ratio!

    1. Unfortunately there aren’t a while lot of insurance Adjusters like you out here and even fewer Insurance Companies. I am having a hard time getting any of then to pay for the basics add of late. I see I if it is because of the storms but I will spend my story in court with these companies before I eat another lie balled, price fixed, underpaid claim! In get end just one thing to apply the adjusters that are underpaying it price fixing… .
      So quit trying to bare minimum everything.!!

    2. Gil, I’m sorry but you are wrong. If you want to contact me privately, let me know. I’ll send you communications betweem myself and State Farm, Liberty Mutual, USAA, etc. They refuse to pay for any of the things you mentioned, refuse basic code required stuff like step flashing, ice water shield. No reason for refusal, just NO. In fact I’m finishing prep to file suit against several of these companies. It’s far worse than you think. They have created policies that forbid field ajustors from paying for codified items if they are not nationwide required by code, we are told to proceed and simply supplement to get them. Then they blanket deny EVERYTHING, and when we ask to get the denial and reason in writing, they call and over the phone will try and negotiate small payments for the lessor items. I have 40 some claims like this, and am awaiting file from many other contractors and public adjustors that may join in. It will take me some tme to redact personal information before I send. Whatever your experience was in the industry was not the norm.

  15. I believe the author is incorrect when he says insurance companies own Xactimate/Xactware. Xactware is owned by parent company Verisk Analytics which is a publicly traded company traded as VRSK on the stock exchange. I guess if you fault them for being traded publicly then fault capitalism?

    I would also point out the part where the author notes that you should find a contractor that knows how to apply proper supplements. This just means that the contractor shorts the bid or agrees to the price with the insurance adjuster then once the work is done he submits more bills for items not originally agreed to. It’s a deceptive practice and the insurance adjuster and the contractor can agree to these items or discuss them prior to the work starting. I was a public adjuster down in New Mexico and what we kept seeing were contractors shorting their bids so the homeowners and insurance companies would go with them then once the work was done they’d submit “supplements” for thousands more in additional work and half the time it was work that was never actually completed. This is called inflating the bid and it is fraud. So be careful.

    1. Peter, you are misleading in your comments and I doubt you are a Public Adjuster. A quick Google search will quickly confirm who owned Verisk “The company was privately held until its October 6, 2009, initial public offering, which raised $1.9 billion for several of the large insurance companies that were its primary shareholders, making it the largest IPO in the United States for the year 2009”. So..the TRUTH is it was owned by several large insurance companies. Their ownership is still existent. The contractor does NOT short the bid then supplement. The typical scenario has the adjustor creating a lowball “scope of damages” using the xactimate software. Purposely or instructed by the insurance company the adjuster leaves off , omits and/or not properly pays the proper line items. For example, the policyholder premiums for the coverage includes paying for the use of a general contractor. The payment of a small 10% for overhead expense and an additional 10% for profit is fought tooth and nail by the insurance companies. Without the threat of lawsuits and or the use of a PA it is most difficult to get the insurance company to pay for the General Contractors service. I have personally seen adjusters attempt to cheat the homeowner out of $20,000 in legitimate claims items that the insured was paying coverage for and the insurance adjuster did not want to pay. Additionally, being an adjuster he should be looking for a reason to pay a claim and not stretch to not pay a claim. Peter, I suggest the readers of this article read the book “From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance “. It is available on Amazon. Big insurance, which I am sure you work for, as possibly an adjuster, is not the consumer’s friend. You are not a PA, a Public Adjuster works on behalf of the policyholder to ensure the policyholder receives all the money they deserve for their claim. Why, as a PA, would you be aware submitted supplements and work not being done. Only the insurance company would be aware of supplements for thousands more. A PA WANTS the customer to be properly indemnified and works for the consumer/contractor to obtain the proper money. Sad to see misinformation unethically espoused, you should be ashamed.

      1. I have been doing restoration work since 1999. I am a state licensed GC and mold remediator. Comsidering that there are approximately 22 million people in Florida and there are less than 175,000 State licensed General Contractor’s, I would say that this license is not easy ro obtain. Less than 1% of the population has this license. I have seen the line item prices continually going down and additional items are ambiguously added in to the description. Examples are an average amount of light switch plates and an average amount of furniture are normally completed by a painter within this square foot price. There are normally many grades to select in an item. Paint dor example has none. Only paint per square foot of .70 cents or so. If you click on the i button it appears the material used for this item is basic paint that costs around 32-37 per gallon. Where the middle paint costs around 45-49 per gallon and aurora paint is 62-67 per gallon. This is only one issue with xactimate. The high end paint material is almost double. Also the labor for using this high end paint in the homes we work in is dramatically more as our homes are 1 million to 20 million dollar homes or condos. Xactimate is a estimating software, not a pricing guideline. It gives pricing as a courtesy. It also says it’s pricing is an average. In south Florida there isn’t much average here. Many line items are far less in xactimate. If you hired a handyman to do plumbing or electrical, you might be able to break even. I am not in business to break even. Nor is the insurance company, the adjuster nor a good contractor. We have extemely high insurance rates and we have to hire licensed professionals or we will get denied by our carrier for not doing so. The median gome price here is 250,000-300,000 k. If we worked in a home that was average and had builder grade everything in the home, xactimate would work ok. It would still be 20-40% low. Now get into these 10,000 homes or condo buildings with limited access and xactimate is 30% of what it needs to be. The insurance company also tends to hire young kids out of college. They train them that most contractors are trying to over charge for everything and we are the issue. These adjusters have almost no construction background, but are asked to write a fair scope of repairs to fix a home or business? In their defense they don’t know any better. However the insurance companies do. They know if they hired a former contractor that had worked in construction for over 5 years that these estimates that they would write would much more accuratley cover the repairs. This would cost them millions or possible billions of dollars. The system is flawed as an unlicensed contractor is writing up a scope of repairs to tell a homeowner or contractor this is what we are paying. In most cases this person has never run a construction business and has no idea what the actual costs are. If a contractor cannot discuss the policy if they are not a licensed adjuster, then how come an adjuster can write up an estimate when they are an unlicensed contractor. This is the major issue. Before hurrican Wilma hit here there were some decent general adjusters. Most of those guys are long gone doing umpire and appraisal work. This makes our jobs as contractors even harder when we have to deal with uneducated adjusters who have no idea what it takes or what it costs to put a home or business back to pre loss condition. If you look at another line item in xactimate with plumbing or electric work you will see tge same issues. 80-90 per hour for a plumber. Plumbers are in excess of 125 per hour. As a general contractor you need to be writing an estimate to make your proper mark up or margin. If we arw being charged 125 per hour we cannot be be collecting 125 per hour. This is another issue with these jobs. Everything falls under my license if something goes wrong. My insurance, my livelihood. They have cumulative overhead and profit in xactimate for a reason. That is the correct way to add overhead and profit. 10,000 becomes 1000 in overhead and then 11,000 becomes 1100 in profit. This is true 10&10 and a contractors 20% If you do it the way the insurance companies say there guidelines are this only gives you 18% overhead and profit. There way is 10,000 equals 1000 and 1000. It takes the average payment of the jobs down here to be fully paid over 6 months. How is that fair to the homeowners and contractors. It is not uncommon to see this taking 8-10 months or even years for a homeowner to be fully brought back to pre loss condition. Talk about unfair claims practices. Frustrated in FL.

    2. What? How the hell can you possibly know everything you will run into until you run into it. If you were a public adjustor you were a horrible one. Currently in my area, most large insurance companies are FORCING us to supplement for basic shit like ice/water shield, drip edge. etc. the field adjustor is not allowed to pay for it. So how is that inflating a bid? Clowns like you really mess a forum up with your stupid advice.