We have a recently built house (2008). This past year, a roof leak materialized. I am out of pocket $3250 for several contractor visits that tore out interior drywall, recaulked flashing and siding, tested areas with a hose, and ultimately replaced a torn section of EPDM rubber membrane (insulation screws had worked up from underneath, this was hidden under a green roof feature); however the contractor noted my insulation underneath was soaked, he didn't agree with the original pitch line, and I would need a new roof soon: rough estimate $8000-12000.
It's imperfectly clear to me if my homeowner's insurance would cover this. The contractor said "no", a lawyer on a free introductory consult said "maybe", or alternately "maybe" to a fraud lawsuit against the builder and suppliers. The lawyer indicated he would have a better estimate of either outcome (claim or lawsuit) after 2-3 billable hours.
We have enough credit via a HELOC to finance the repair, backed up by nonretirement investments, so I am not in a liquidity trap where I need the insurance as a source of cash to repair.
For the purpose of the question, assume this is a covered peril. The premium is now $1500 per year with $1000 deductible (I happened to shop around earlier in the year; I could get a $1200 premium from a different national-brand insurance company, but I hold off on a change until I decide whether to make a claim).
- What could I expect in terms of a premium increase if I make a claim?
- Do homeowner insurance rates ever go back down after a claim (similar to how car accidents age out of an auto policy), and if so, what time horizon? Or am I possibly burning ourselves for the rest of the time in this house?
- Is there an "expected value" rule of thumb to pursue a homeowner's claim? My mental line was $10000+ (10x deductible), but on reflection this is just a round number and not an objective reason; and the event hovers around it.
- Given this anecdote, would you just pay out of pocket, or put in the effort for a claim or lawsuit?