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'Worn' roof shingles

GuideOne’s use of aerial imagery to conduct the Greater Gospel Center’s property inspection is not out of the ordinary. Insurance companies across the U.S. are now using drone technology and satellite images as a less intrusive way to perform property inspections.

The issue here is that the satellite images Buggs says GuideOne provided of the San Diego church didn’t seem all that bad. He shared the insurance company's report with CBS 8, which said the church building had no structural damage, no missing shingles and no rust, patching or ponding.

It did, however, say that 27% of the roof shingles were “worn,” but the appraiser also stated it had 81% confidence in the asphalt material.

The Greater Gospel Center has less than 100 members, Buggs explained, none of whom are high earners with spare cash to help fix the roof or cover the vastly inflated cost of the new insurance policy. According to Buggs, it was a struggle to get a new insurance policy because companies didn't want to take on the liability of a failing roof as reported by the previous insurer.

“We don't have donors that can come write us checks. We’re hurting!” the pastor exclaimed. But the church's congregation has “come together to make it work [because] that’s what this church means to the community.”

When CBS 8 sought comment from GuideOne on this issue, the insurer said it “does not comment on private matters involving our potential or actual policyholders.”

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Importance of roof maintenance

Insurers place a great deal of weight on the state of your home's roof. If it's well-maintained, you will likely receive favorable pricing and coverage limits, but if your roof is neglected or aging, you may have to pay more and could even lose your home insurance coverage. The same goes for commercial properties and other community buildings like churches and schools.

When assessing roofs, insurers may look at factors like the age of your roof, the durability of materials used, its weather resistance, compliance with local building codes and the cost of repair or replacement, among other things. They use this information to price policies and assess claims.

Generally, the dwelling coverage portion of a homeowners insurance policy will cover roof repairs and replacements, but only for problems that are sudden, accidental or caused by specific events, such as fire, hail, wind, vandalism and the weight of ice and snow. The average policy will not cover roof damage caused by poor maintenance or general wear and tear.

If an insurance company deems your roof too risky to insure, then it's worth hiring a licensed roofer to inspect the damage and advise about what repairs need to be made. Be sure to document everything with before and after photos and receipts as this may help you to secure an affordable policy from a new insurer.

It is important to try and keep your roof in good condition as this will help to protect your home and ultimately your finances, because, as the Greater Gospel Center found out, a new roof can cost a pretty penny.

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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