When you’re purchasing homeowners insurance, the age and condition of your roof will heavily factor into the premium rate. Your roof is the first impediment to damage claims. In more than “90 percent of hail or high-wind claims, there’s a payout relative to roof claims.” According to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute, the average homeowners insurance premium was $1,132 in 2014. However, that figure varies widely depending on where you live, the climate, and potential natural disasters your home may face. For example, Florida had the highest average premiums ($2,005) while Oregon had the lowest ($574). According to Jim Towns, an agent for Allstate Insurance, “The roof is probably the single biggest factor affecting your policy. That’s where the majority of losses due to snow, wind, hail and rain occur.”

As such, the age, condition, and materials of your roof are all relevant to your homeowners insurance carrier in terms of premiums. When purchasing a new home, we recommend a careful inspection of the roof and how it may relate to your insurance policy. Will you need to replace it or do any major repair? Comparing quotes prior to purchasing the home may give you a better idea of how the age and condition of the roof might affect your insurance rates. Conversely, if you already own a home and have homeowners insurance, how is the age, condition, and materials of your roof currently affecting your premiums? Could replacing your roof or safeguarding it against natural disasters lower your premium?

Discounts for replacing or improving roofs will vary state by state and company by company, but a new roof could reduce your premiums by 20 percent. Brad Lemons, a vice president at Nationwide Insurance says “some homeowners can get even bigger discounts if they live in hurricane, wind or hail prone states and their new roof employs loss-mitigation measures, such as hurricane straps, waterproofing or the very best shingles.”

Before getting any expensive repairs or replacement done, we recommend speaking with your insurance agent to determine if replacing or repairing your roof will translate into savings. Justin Herdon, a spokesperson from Allstate explains, “New/newer roofs will typically see a reduced premium, while homes with older roofs will pay more. Anytime you make a home improvement, especially repairing or replacing your roof, you should talk to your insurance agent to be sure you’re covered and realizing any savings that may come along with the improvement.”

The Insurance Information Institute recommends speaking with a company representative to determine what steps you can take to make your home more disaster resistant, such as reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. If you are considering replacing or repairing your roof, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety is an excellent resource. The IBHS is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to “conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote the most effective ways to strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss.” Their website has research on roofing materials and their resistance to natural disasters such as high winds, hail, and fire. Additionally, your carrier may already have resources to assist you in evaluating materials and choosing a contractor.

Understanding your location and climate is instrumental to evaluating what challenges you may face as a homeowner, how it may affect your roof, and your insurance premiums. Depending on the age and condition of the roof, some carriers may not cover the home, so it’s important to regularly check the condition of your roof and be proactive in mitigating exposure to damages and lowering the likelihood of filing an insurance claim. According to CNN, on average, filing a single claim will result in a 9 percent increase to your monthly premium, while a second claim could spike your premiums up to 20 percent. While the expense of repairing or replacing your roof will vary depending on the size of your home, materials, and labor, if you take the time to research and speak with an insurance agent, these steps now could save you money and hassle.