HomeHome InsuranceTexans finding insurance error: Here's what to know

Texans finding insurance error: Here’s what to know

DALLAS — I recently shared the story with you about how I was just wondering one day why my homeowner insurance premium didn’t get any downward adjustment after my hail-damaged roof was replaced with a brand new roof last year. 

I explained how a roof is one of the most expensive components of a home and protects many other expensive components. That makes the age and condition of a roof a big consideration for insurers when they are assessing their risk (and therefore, your premium). 

When I asked about it, my insurer revealed that their records showed (impossibly) that I had a 1992 roof, even though I had previously told them it was a 2009 roof. Their error is even more inexplicable when you consider that this same insurer had just paid for a new roof last year following a hailstorm. 

But somehow, they were still way off on my roof’s age. I told them I expected a sizable retroactive refund for my too-high premium that was based on a way too-high roof age. That refund has now been processed! 

Other Texas homeowners tell me they’re finding the same error

Apparently, my roof was not the only one being assigned the wrong age. Other homeowners were inspired by my initial report to contact their insurers to inquire about the roof age their insurers had on file. Several of those homeowners then reached out to me with their own age mismatch stories:

Billy wrote in: “After watching your story, I updated my homeowners roof ins info and my premium went down $350” (his message was punctuated with a flexing emoji). 

Vicki told me she was getting a big reduction in her premium because she asked for a “retroactive rate adjustment.” She says she had just had a roof replacement last June, but that her new policy said, “the roof was 5/6 years old!”

Tom shared his experience: “After seeing your Right On The Money about roofs and homeowner insurance I contacted my insurer.” He added that his insurer thought he had a 1996 roof when it was actually “replaced in 2022 and the current insurer paid the claim. They are going to lower my monthly premiums starting next month but would not agree to prorate the premiums for the last two years.” Tom was planning to fight that retroactive refund battle next. 

Matt explained how his insurer thought his 2012 roof was a 1996 one. He also asked for a retroactive adjustment but says he was told, “There is no price difference in the premium.” He said his insurer is State Farm, which is the largest home insurer in Texas. I don’t know if there may have been other considerations affecting Matt’s premium, but in his case, the roof’s age was clearly shown by his insurer. Like many of us, he just may not have thought to look for that. Matt says he found the mistake after he went back and reviewed his policy documents.

Advice for homeowners

I asked State Farm about it, and they responded: “We do display the roof’s age on the first page of the annual policy renewal, and we encourage customers to let us know if the information is not accurate. While roof age is factored into our pricing, it is not the only thing influencing a customer’s insurance premium. Premiums for individual customers depend on a variety of factors, including location, type of home construction, age of utilities, and optional coverage the customer may have added to the policy. Other factors, such as the level of coverage selected by the customer, various deductible plans, and associated discounts also influence a customer’s premium.”

A guy named Jeff also messaged me from the insurer’s perspective, saying they “recommend checking your insurance policy when you receive it each year. Take some ownership and make sure the policy is accurate.” 

That’s all good advice from State Farm and Jeff. But unlike State Farm, and unlike the policies Jeff deals with, my roof’s age was buried in my insurer’s internal records and was not listed anywhere in the 64 pages of policy documents for my most recent renewal. 

This data point is something I will annually confirm with my insurer going forward. And even though it would seem obvious that an insurer who pays for a new roof should update the age in their records, they clearly don’t always do it. So, if you have a roof replacement (even one paid for by your insurance provider), follow up with them and make sure they have updated your roof’s age.

As I do every year (well sometimes every 18 months, because I put it off since it is such a time-consuming and tedious process), I recently shopped around again for homeowner insurance to see if I could find a better deal with another insurer for the same amount of coverage (or greater amount of coverage, because as I have previously reported…rebuilding costs can go up substantially from year to year, leaving you grossly underinsured if you haven’t adjusted your coverage amounts).

Hardening your roof

There are hardened ‘impact-resistant’ products, including special shingles that can make your roof a tougher target for hail. But estimates vary widely on how much they cost. Some figure it’s 50 to 100 percent more expensive than regular shingles. Others say it’s a much more reasonable 10 to 20 percent more expensive than regular shingles. Shop around if you are considering that.

But that kind of roof can reportedly save you up to about a third on your home insurance premium. I just got a quote that confirmed that rough percentage of savings when the impact-resistant roof discount was added. 

Official insurance complaints

A reminder, the Texas Department of Insurance says if you think an insurer has treated you in an unfair or illegal manner, you can file a complaint. Here is the page where you can do that. Oftentimes, issues can be resolved by talking with your insurer before you file an official complaint. 

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