New rental house, old roof, insurance issues - need some advice

A couple of weeks ago my wife and closed on a townhouse we bought for our daughter and her kids to rent from us. Yesterday I got a call from our insurance agent saying that the underwriters would not cover the house unless the roof was replaced.

A little bit of history. When we first started looking at this property a couple of months ago, the realtor that we were briefly working with said that before we made an offer, we should call our insurance company and have someone come out and look at the roof and let us know if they had any problems with it. The house was built around 1981 or 1982 and appears to have the original roof with another layer of shingles on top. The previous owner did not know how old the top layer of shingles was (it was re-roofed before she bought it).

When I called the insurance company, they said they don’t normally send anyone out to look at the roof until the policy is actually written up, but that the inspector should be able to tell us if there were any issues.

When we had the inspection done, the inspector was a little concerned about the condition of the roof and the two layers of shingles, but said he thought the roof had another five years to go before it would need to be replaced.

So now the insurance company, who wouldn’t send anyone out before the sale like we requested, is now disagreeing with the inspector and telling us after the sale that they will not insure the house unless we replace the roof. WTF? Is this normally the way this kind of thing works?

I have an appointment to talk to my insurance agent face to face this morning. My biggest concerns are that (a) the house is not currently insured until we get this worked out, and (b) that our deductible and our premiums (and thus our monthly payments) are going to [del]go through the roof[/del] be much higher than we originally anticipated. I think I may also have to start looking around for a different insurance company.

I know we have some folks on the boards in the insurance biz - what are our options at this point?

If you can’t find anything else, this company is popular with the investor crowd because of their flexibility and reasonable premiums: http://www.formstack.com/forms/NREIG-Proposalrequest

With that said, they are high-deductible ($3K), no-frills policies. Your daughter will need her own tenant policy, of course. Good luck.

  1. Find a different insurance company. You might get lucky, but probably not for long.

  2. Install a new roof.

  3. Sell the house.
    fisha-roofer who works a lot of insurance.

We have a house on a lake that has a small beach house (10’ by 16’, maybe). Our insurance agent stopped by, even though it’s 150 miles from our home city! (He said he was just in the area and wanted to see it). As in your case, he said he wouldn’t insure the beach house until its was roof was replaced. I don’t know if he thought it wasn’t fireproof enough, or if wind damage could occur.

At least in our case they insured the rest of the property, and said they would reinstate coverage on the beach house when we showed the work was completed. Our thoughts? Yes, the roof needs replacing, so we plan on replacing the roof. Have you considered just fixing your roof? It needs to be done sometime anyway…

After talking with both my insurance agent and a roofer yesterday, the insurance company is going to write a new policy under their “specialty” company which will have a higher deductible but annual premiums should only be a couple hundred more. So, not as bad as I thought but I’m still pretty irked about the whole thing. I guess we should have had a roofer come out and look at it after the insurance company said they wouldn’t send anyone out. Lesson learned.

The roofer says there are three layers of shingles on both sides of the duplex, which really surprised me. I thought roofers would not put on a third layer, that at that point they tear off the old shingles and start fresh.

I also suspect that the woman who sold us the house was not completely honest with us. We kept trying to pin her down on the age of the roof and she claimed not to know. We need to have a talk with the woman in the neighboring townhouse, since I assume the entire roof will need to be replaced on both sides (I wouldn’t think they would replace half a roof and leave the other half with three layers of shingles). I will ask her if she knows when was the last time the roof was done, either on her side or both sides.

It’s just that we’ve had to sink so much money into this house since closing last month (some expected, some not) that a new roof was the last thing I needed to pay for now, but we’ll figure out a way to cover it.