What Roofing Materials Will Help You Keep Your Insurance Premiums Low?

If you feel like you're continually looking for ways to reduce the cost of your homeowner's insurance premiums, you're not alone -- many homeowners spend years fiddling with their deductibles or getting quotes from multiple insurance agencies in an effort to lower their costs. While these measures can help save a few dollars each year, one of your biggest potential insurance risks can be easily overlooked (even though it lies right above your head). Improving the condition and safety of your roof can go a long way toward reducing the cost of insuring your home. Read on to learn more about some roofing materials and improvements that may help lower your insurance costs for years to come.

Why do roofs have such an impact on homeowner's insurance premiums?

Roofs are often the line of first defense when it comes to environmental hazards -- they shield your home (and family) from rain, hail, snow, and other precipitation. A leaky or damaged roof can allow water to flow into your attic or down the length of the structural beams that hold your home together. Over time, exposure to moisture can weaken these beams, causing them to buckle. Toxic mold may also begin to form beneath your drywall, remaining invisible to the naked eye while spreading spores throughout your home.

In some cases, insurance companies may even cancel policies or refuse to extend additional insurance coverage on homes with roofs more than a couple of decades old due to the increased risk of damage to the rest of your home if your roof begins to fail. And once your roof has begun to leak, you may find it difficult to procure any insurance coverage until you have it professionally repaired or replaced. Even if your older roof is in good condition, you'll likely only receive its depreciated value if it is damaged in a storm -- and this depreciated value is often only a fraction of the cost of replacement. Selecting a roofing material that holds its value well can ensure that you'll be able to afford to replace it if it's damaged later in its expected lifespan.

What roofing materials can you use to reduce your insurance costs? 

Selecting a high-quality material designed to stand up to your area's specific environmental hazards can dramatically lower your insurance premium. If you live in an area that is prone to high winds or tropical storms, you'll want a roof designed to stand up to these forces. Steel or aluminum roofing panels aren't likely to be peeled away by gale-force winds like shingles, although softer aluminum may be somewhat prone to hail pockmarks. However, both steel and aluminum are durable enough to last decades without requiring repair, and your insurance company will take this long life into account when setting your policy premium.

On the other hand, if you live in a dry or drought-prone region (or one where wildfires are common), you'll want to avoid cedar shake shingles or other wooden shingles at all costs. Even when treated with flame-retardant chemicals, these roofs can pose a fire hazard that may be too much risk in the eyes of a potential insurer. Clay and slate are long-lasting, fire-resistant materials that can help keep your home cool during hot weather.

Another warm-weather roofing option you may not have considered is recycled rubber tiles. These roofing tiles are composed of recycled tires, asphalt roofing shingles, and other crude oil-based materials melted together to form a durable and flexible shingle. These shingles can provide insulation and -- if treated with UV-resistant chemicals during the manufacturing process -- will resist fading, cracking, and peeling even in the sunniest parts of the country.