UPDATED: FEBRUARY 22, 2023 | 3 MIN READ
Flat roofs are a staple of contemporary residential architecture. They can provide homeowners with additional outdoor living space or amenities like a rooftop garden. But it isn’t always easy to find home insurance for flat roofs, especially when you need to make sure the insurance covers roof leaks.
Despite their growing popularity, homebuyers are hesitant to purchase properties with flat roofs. They’re also reluctant to build additions to their homes that include flat roofs. Why? They’re worried that their home insurance policy won’t cover it or they’ll see a significant rise in premiums.
Flat roofs do present a challenge, but not an impossible one. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
How Is a Flat Roof Different From a Sloped One?
The difference is not just aesthetic and includes these key factors:
- Drainage ability: It takes much longer for water to drain from a flat roof than from a slanted one. This means you’re much more dependent on environmental factors like temperature and humidity for the melting of snow/ice and water evaporation.
- Materials: Flat roofs are commonly constructed out of tar and gravel to create a monolithic surface, in contrast to shingling on sloped roofs.
- Cost: The upfront cost of a flat roof is usually less than a sloped roof. The reasons for this include materials costs and less intensive labor.
Is There an Ideal Climate For a Flat Roof?
A location with very little precipitation is the best place for a home with a flat roof. In this climate, you can take advantage of low upfront installation costs in addition to a lower cost of maintenance.
Maintenance Tips For Flat Roofs
Even if you don’t live in an ideal climate for flat roofs, it’s not impossible to maintain them throughout their lifetime (usually 10-20 years).
Here’s what you can do:
- Keep drains clean: This is probably the most important thing you can do to maintain the quality of your roof. Keep drains and gutters clear of anything that could hinder them from doing their job. Standing water is a significant cause of roof leaks and damage.
- Check the roof on a regular schedule: Unlike slanted roofs, you can’t just look up at a flat roof to see if any repairs need to be done. You (or someone you hire) will need to physically go up to the roof to look for damage and wear. You can make a routine out of this (monthly or quarterly) similar to how you would take care of any other part of your home.
- Keep debris from piling up: A flat roof can become home to a lot of drifting junk and debris because of its orientation. Be on the lookout for leaves and items like animal nests. If you have trees growing near the residence, trim them to prevent twigs and branches from piling up.
- Patch minor tears immediately: Performing simple repairs as soon as problems arise can save you money. Make sure to have a professional investigate any other underlying issues you must deal with.
How Does Home Insurance Treat Flat Roofs?
A flat roof is not considered a bad roof. It doesn’t automatically disqualify you from an affordable homeowners insurance policy. In fact, flat roofs might become more popular as white and green roofs become more of an urban staple. Insurance companies tend to consider the following when pricing policies for homes with flat roofs:
- Flat proportion: If only a tiny portion of your home has a flat roof (e.g., a recent addition to the house), insuring your home may not be an issue. Insurers have different thresholds for what they consider a flat roof, so be sure to ask when shopping for policies.
- The exact incline of the roof: Just because a roof looks flat doesn’t mean it’s flat. A slope of just a few degrees can be enough to let water fall to the ground more quickly. Keep in mind, however, that these “low sloped” roofs often need to be constructed with specific materials to be effective.
- Roof materials: While tar and gravel are the most common components of flat roofs, there are variations in construction methods that result in different levels of quality. It would be best to ask your insurance carrier more about methods like singly-ply, built-up, or modified bitumen roofing.
- Age of roof: Newer roofs are more sturdy and have undergone less wear and tear. It’s also likely that newer roofs are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. Insurance companies may see this as an additional means to spread out risk.
If you file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance, they will consider all the above points when deciding whether to accept your claim. Another point to keep in mind is how well you maintained the roof. Your policy will not cover damage that is ultimately the result of negligence.
Hail damage on a brand new roof that had been kept clean is very different from water damage because you didn’t have a proper drainage system. Maintenance is vital if you choose to have a flat roof.
Why do insurance companies not like flat roofs?
The insurance company reviews potential risks when you get a home insurance quote. Flat roofs might be a higher risk because they don’t drain as quickly as sloped roofs and have a slightly shorter lifespan.
How often does a flat roof need to be replaced?
Flat roofs typically last between 10 and 20 years. Keep yours in good condition by maintaining a regular maintenance schedule.
What will happen if the roofs of a house are flat?
Flat roofs are common, especially in areas with a dry climate. If you have one, ensure it’s properly maintained and drains well to ensure it lasts a long time.
What are the disadvantages of flat roofs on houses?
The main disadvantage of having a flat roof is that they don’t drain as well as sloped roofs. It’s important to maintain a flat roof regularly.
What type of roof is best for insurance?
Your home insurance policy covers the roof of your house, so you don’t need additional flat roof insurance. While having a flat roof might affect your insurance premium, you shouldn’t see a massive increase.
Finding Insurance For a House With a Flat Roof
Your home insurance policy covers your home’s roof, whether a flat or sloped roof. To ensure you’re adequately protected, get several home insurance quotes.