You don’t have to look far in Johnson County to see whole
neighborhoods with housetops clad in wood shakes. Its textured, natural look
has been a favorite among high-end developers for years, giving homes a more
distinctive look—at a much higher cost—than the usual composition shingles. And
until recently, many of the homeowner associations established by these
developers mandated the use of wood shakes when replacing a roof. This insured
that rooftops in a given neighborhood would retain a uniform and upscale
appearance. Unfortunately, that’s about the only kind of insurance you’ll get
with wood shakes today, because a growing number of insurance companies now
routinely refuse to write new policies for them.
According to Mike Hasty, an agent with Johnson County-based
brokerage Key Insurance Partners, several companies will write policies for
homes with wood shakes, but only if they are ten years old or newer. If the
roof is older or in need of repair, options are limited, which causes rates and
deductibles to skyrocket. And for houses that have a newer layer of composition
shingles over wood shakes (not uncommon in this area)? “You’re not going to get it insured,” says one agent
“Companies are getting stricter with their underwriting guidelines
in general,” says LeAnn Crow of the Kansas Insurance Department. An increase in
storm damage has made insurance companies wary, with the Joplin tornado of 2011
the most dramatic example. Costing nearly $3 billion worth of damage, it is the
most expensive tornado to date in the U.S. The insurance industry responded
with tighter guidelines and higher rates, with homeowners seeing increases of
up to 30% over the past two years.
Because the insurance implications of buying or selling a home
with a wood shake roof can be considerable, homeowners and house hunters alike
need to safeguard themselves by getting educated on this topic before they
begin the process of buying or selling.
own a home with a wood shake roof, particularly a roof that is ten years or
older, they should consider replacing it before putting the house on the
market. By doing so, they turn a disadvantage into a selling point. Buyers, on
the other hand, need to take the condition, age and type of roof into
consideration during the negotiation process. Are there multiple layers? If
there is wood shake under composition shingles, it’s important to find out how
much a total roof replacement will cost--including the roof decking, which is
different for composition shingles than for wood shakes--and factor that into
the price of the home.
standards change from year to year, and keeping informed of the implications is
the best way to keep your home investment secure. Call me for more information
about roofing and other insurance implications.