The Weather Forecast for Dwelling Owners

// June 6, 2017
Reading Time: 5 minutes

With the change of seasons comes the challenge of new weather events. During the summer months, severe storms have the potential to cause extensive wind, hail and rain damage. So far this year, spring storms have produced wind speeds greater than 65 miles per hour (mph) in Michigan; nearly 60 mph in Toledo, Ohio; and wind gusts of 70 mph in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

These storms bring down the weakest branches and trees – often on houses, cars and power lines. Loss information collected by Traveler’s Insurance Company attributes wind, hail and weather-related water damage to 51 percent of all homeowner claims. It is important not only to be aware of common weather-related claims, but also to educate your insureds on loss control measures and the differences between roof types relating to their weather resistance.

Every spring, insureds and homeowners should clear away and trim any trees, branches or limbs that could damage their homes in a powerful storm. It is best to remove any rotting limbs and branches, as they can become high speed projectiles in a severe wind storm, and keep gutters clear of leaves, broken branches and other debris. Homeowners should inspect their own roofs by looking for torn, damaged or missing shingles as well.

A large portion of storm damage claims are to a dwelling’s roof surface; however, technical developments in the roofing industry have led to more durable roofing materials. Today’s materials are stronger, lighter and have longer life spans. Roofing materials are available for both steep slope roofs and flat roofs. When evaluating potential risks to insure and when speaking with insureds about their current exposures, it is important to be aware of these common roof materials:

Shingle: Typically this is categorized as either asphalt shingle or composite shingle, which uses a combination of wood, paper, asphalt and fiberglass. Out of these, the 3-tab fiberglass shingle is the most popular material used today because it’s cost effective, lightweight, easier to install and offers better resistance to moisture and fire. The typical lifespan of fiberglass shingle is 20-50 years. Shingles today can also offer a variety of options such as algae and impact resistance, which may also help with loss control, according to This Old House.

Wood and shake: The typical lifespan of this type of roof is 20-30 years. Wood and shake offers very good wind resistance, and the wood shingles are pressure treated and can be treated for a certain amount of fire resistance. They are susceptible to moisture and insect intrusion over time.

Tile: Tile roofs can be either clay tile or concrete tile. This type of roof can typically withstand severe storms and hurricane force winds up to 125 mph. The lifespan of this type of roof is similar to the other two listed above. Most losses to tile roofs involve replacement of individual tiles due to breakage or cracking, usually at the corners where the material is the thinnest.

Metal: This type of roof is typically low maintenance and very durable. Metal roofs have a warranty anywhere from 20 to 40 years. Some manufacturers even claim that they will never crack, peel, fade, rot or curl. Though metal roofs are low maintenance, they are susceptible to dimpling and denting. The common loss for this roof system is wind damage to the flashing, which can lead to water penetration.

Slate: The lifespan of this type of roof is typically 80-100 years. Slate roofs are known to be virtually weather resistant. The most common loss to this type of roof usually involves individual slate damage from falling branches and trees.

Flat roofs: A variety of advancements have been made to flat roofs over the past few years. Built up roofs (BUR) (made with layers of tar paper, hot tar and gravel) once required regular maintenance due to water ponding and breaks in the seams that can lead to water penetration. Today, materials include acrylic and fiberglass rolls instead of tar paper. Another material, Modified Bitumen (Mod Bit), is applied in a single layer and is made of synthetic rubber that is heated with a torch to seal the seams. Today, manufacturers offer a peel and stick version which is safer and easier to install. Rubber roofing EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a layer of thick rubber that is applied over a bed of gravel and then secured with fasteners, or it can be glued to the roof surface. While this material is light, easier to repair and offers good resistance to scuffing and tearing, it is susceptible to punctures. Advancements in materials include fiberglass, PVC and spray on coatings.

What does all of this mean? It is important to be aware of these roof materials when speaking with insureds about their exposures to loss. As insurance industry professionals, we also need to be informed and stay flexible with our underwriting guidelines as roof materials become more durable and last longer.

USLI recently expanded eligibility guidelines on our 1-4 Family Dwelling product to account for these advances in roofing materials. In addition to offering DP-3 Special Form on homes that are up to 90 years old, USLI now offers either a DP-3 Special Form or DP-1 Basic Form for homes with flat roofs that are up to 15 years old! Please also consider these product advantages for USLI’s 1-4 Family Dwelling product:

  • Coverage written for individuals, LLCs, trusts, estates, family or limited partnerships
  • Up to 10 locations for each insured
  • No building age restriction for DP-1 coverage
  • Comprehensive personal liability coverage is available up to $1,000,000 including personal injury coverage
  • Inspections ordered, paid for and managed by USLI
  • Additional insureds can be added free of charge
  • Efficient online capabilities and phone quoting
  • A.M. Best rated A++ carrier

With these product advantages and our recent expanded eligibility, USLI hopes to be the first choice for all of your 1-4 Family Dwelling needs! Please contact your Personal Lines underwriter for more information or a quote today.


USLI’s 1-4 Family Dwelling product is not available in AK, CA, FL, HI, KY, LA, MS, TN, and WV.

As always, we appreciate your business!

Contact Brian Hogan,
Vice President, Product Team Leader | 888-523-5545 Ext. 2388

Written by Lisa Spitko
June 8, 2017