When it comes to a damaged roof, the million-dollar question is: is the damage functional or cosmetic? Knowing whether you have cosmetic or functional damage matters greatly when it comes to insurance and how much the roof repair is going to cost.
Functional Vs. Cosmetic Roof Damage
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors defines functional damage as "damage that diminishes the ability of the roof to shed water and/or damage that reduces the roof's expected long term service life." Essentially, it’s damage that directly affects the roof’s ability to do its job.
Some examples of functional roof damage include torn or missing shingles and or shingles penetrated by hail or other falling or foreign objects.
The definition of cosmetic damage is anything that is not functional damage. This is obviously a wide variety of issues, but it basically means damage has occurred but it has not impaired or altered the ability of the roof to perform as needed or expected.
It's damaged, but the roof or roof component can continue to operate normally. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be fixed because cosmetic damage—like hail damage, for example—can weaken a roof and lead to major repairs in the future.
How Cosmetic and Functional Damage Affect Your Insurance
The reasons you need to know the difference between these two types of damages is because your home insurance policy might have an exclusion for cosmetic damages. If that’s the case, then there are situations in which you might not get coverage.
Though cosmetic damage technically means that the roof is still in working order, it doesn't mean that you should just ignore the issue. Fixing these issues now rather than waiting for them to potentially get worse helps with maintaining the integrity of your roof and of course will help the resale value of the home. A damaged roof with dented gutters and other metal flashing will not only affect the way the house looks, but also negatively affect resale value.
Knowing the difference between functional and cosmetic damage may not always be easy for a homeowner who also doesn’t always know what his or her policy coverage includes and excludes. That's why we often recommend that a homeowner understand the insurance policy before filing a claim.
Exclusions for cosmetic damage will be spelled out in the declaration page you receive every year when your policy renews. You need to read this and understand it, and if there are items that are not clear, ask your insurance agent to explain them, because if you don't, the only time you will find out that your policy excludes items from coverage will be after a hail storm and you're expecting to have your home restored to "before-storm" condition.
If you have any questions about functional vs. cosmetic damage or anything else roofing related, contact us today and a member of our team will be glad to help you in any way we can.