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10 ways to protect the roof over your head

Most people don’t think much about their roof until it needs to be replaced, either because of age or damage. And when they do, they usually default to traditional asphalt roof tiles. But a lot has changed over the years, with more resilient options that tie into the philosophy of building back better—which is increasingly important in the face of more severe weather events.


This year alone, Canadians have had to grapple with a wide range of severe weather—from snowstorms to drought, wildfires, flooding, hail, severe wind and tornados.

The climate is rapidly changing, so we need to consider building back better with more resilient materials. From an insurer's perspective, it’s about being proactive to extreme weather events to reduce the risk of loss from natural hazards. And as a customer, building with resilient materials reduces your likelihood of having to file an insurance claim and pay a deductible – and worse, having your life disrupted.

Here are some considerations to ensure your roof will do its job and protect your home:

1. Know how roofs protect you

The roof is the area of your home that is most exposed to damage from severe weather events such as heavy rainfalls, intense winds or hail. If your shingles are compromised or your roof is damaged, the rest of your home will be, too. Leaks could lead to further damage to the interior of the property, which may require you to repaint, replace drywall or buy new furniture.

That’s why it’s important to consider your options, whether you’re choosing to upgrade your roof, are forced to rebuild due to damage, or are building a new house.

2. Consider cost vs. quality

Traditional asphalt/fibreglass shingles are an inexpensive option, but have a limited life expectancy of 20 years or less. Wind and rain can loosen the granules that coat the shingles, and severe heat or dramatic temperature fluctuations—common in Canada—can make asphalt shingles curl, so they’re more likely to fail. And in a severe storm, they could blow right off the roof, leaving your home vulnerable.

If you’re unsure about the costs vs. benefits, and what material will work best where you live, talk with a roofing professional or contractor.

3. Choose resilient roofing materials

Asphalt isn’t your only option. You can also choose wood, slate, ceramic, metal, rubber or concrete, each of which has its pros and cons.

  • Lower-rated asphalt and untreated wood are most vulnerable to moss, algae and mold, though treated wood tiles have coatings that protect against moss and rot. There are also different types of asphalt shingles, which vary in quality. Fibreglass asphalt composition shingles, for example, are fire-resistant.
  • Metal roofing systems can hold up to severe wind and hail, and also help to shed snow and avoid ice dams. Since metal is non-combustible, it’s also fire-resistant, and can last up to 50 years. Steel also happens to be one of the best materials for avoiding moisture issues and it’s UV and fire-resistant. Standing-seam steel roofing uses flat panels with no exposed fasteners, which reduces leaks.
  • Rubber roofs are becoming more popular due to their long life expectancy (30-50 years) and malleability – they are much less likely to become damaged in extreme weather. Rubber is also resistant to the growth of moss.
  • Clay, like steel, is also UV and fire-resistant.
  • And when it comes to windy conditions, tile, slate and metal are all ideal.

    4. Meet Canadian standards for roofing materials

    Talk to a licensed roofing contractor about the best options for your home and region. In the Prairies, for example, you might be concerned about hail and wildfires, while on the Atlantic Coast you might be more worried about hurricane-strength winds.

    5. Roof ratings matter

    Fire ratings for roofs fall under Class A, B and C (Class A provides the highest protection), which includes concrete or clay roof tiles, fibreglass asphalt composition shingles and metal roofs.

    Roofing materials are rated Class 1 through Class 4 based on their resistance to the impact of steel balls, which simulates the damage from hail (Class 4 is the highest possible rating for impact resistance).

    6. Don’t get blown away

    Hurricane ties can also be installed onto a new roof at the trusses, which can provide additional protection if you live in a hurricane or tornado zone. While this is an inexpensive solution, hurricane trusses can only be added at the time of roof installation (and not at the time of a re-shingle application).

    7. Maintain your roof for longevity

    If your roof is poorly maintained, then some insurance protections might not be available to you. That’s why, even if your roof doesn’t need to be replaced just yet, it’s important to maintain your roof, keep it clear of debris and stay on top of any minor repairs to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

    8. Keep an eye on things

    In fall and spring, inspect your roof from the ground through a pair of binoculars and look for any wear and tear, such as curling or missing shingles, gutters filled with leaves or wear around the chimney. In your attic, look for any signs of water damage or sagging boards.

    9. Get cleaning

    Also in fall and spring, clean the gutters, ensure vents are clean and clear, and remove any moss that could cause mould in between the layers of your shingles (but avoid home remedies like using laundry detergent to kill moss).

    10. Don’t put off repairs

    Repairs should be done by a licensed roofing contractor, and ensure your roof is inspected after 10 years—or more frequently, depending on where you live and if there could be any damage.


    Wawanesa is passionate about supporting the resilience of our communities. There are environmental benefits to sustainable building, such as reducing waste in our landfills that contributes to climate change. Roof quality also protects your home and is considered a factor when insurers rate a property. Quality, age and condition could all affect premiums, so it’s in your best interest as a homeowner to keep your roof in good condition.

    Need to replace or repair your roof after a storm?

    Our Stronger Home coverage helps cover the cost of rebuilding with more resilient materials so you can avoid future losses.

    Learn more

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