“More than 10.7 million U.S. properties were affected by one or more damaging hail events in 2017, according to Verisk estimates (www.verisk.com).” If you a victim of one of these storms, you may be wondering if you are eligible for a roof replacement via home insurance and if so, what will get covered.
Photo credit: www.verisk.com
Here’s the scoop…
Most home insurance policies cover hail and wind damage, but, the insurance industry is constantly creating new policies to avoid paying full replacement expenses.
This guide will provide you with tested, first-hand strategies from contractors who have assisted hundreds of clients in obtaining correct insurance funds .
If you want insight on industry secrets for collecting correct funding for existing hail damage, this guide will help you!
Let’s dive in.
Step 1) Read the Fine Print or Risk Missing Out
I’m sure this is the last thing you want to hear, but you have to read the fine print on your home insurance policy. Knowing exactly what your insurance will or will not cover from the start will save you a lot of headache down the road.
Plus, many insurance companies have an expiration date for when you can submit a storm claim. We have seen client’s claims get denied because their insurance company required that they file within 1 year of a storm.
A study done by Verisk says,
“about 30 percent of hail claims have an error in the date of loss, and about half of those hail claims were made a year or more after the event took place because the damage most often strikes the roof which is not inspected by homeowners often.”(https://www.iii.org)
So, make sure you know what your insurance policy’s fine print is and get your roof checked out promptly after a storm.
Step 2) Acquire Inspection from Contractor for a higher success rate of claim approval
If you do a google search on how to navigate a property insurance claim, most sources tell you to call your insurance company right away to file.
Here’s the deal…
At this point, you aren’t sure exactly how much damage is present or if it’s in your best interest to file a claim (we will talk about the scenarios next).
On top of this, your insurance company’s reaction would be to send an adjuster out to determine what damage is present.
Not all adjusters are as keen at spotting damage and some are employed directly by the insurance company; you can see how this could be a conflict of interest.
Your best option is to hire a preferred licensed roofer to perform a hail damage inspection.
A good roofer has years of experience spotting damage and knowing how to correct the issues.
Take the time to talk with your contractor and determine if it’s worth it to file a claim.
Another priceless nugget of info for you…
It’s important to make sure your contractor is highly versed in state code requirements and building according to manufacturer specifications.
A contractor whose abides by these codes will produce work that performs and doesn’t leak. On top of this, they will make sure to point out damage or required repair details to your insurance adjuster that may have been missed otherwise.
For example, if you install a new roof, manufacturer specifications may require the contractor to run underlayments up the side of the wall which can mean removing and possibly replacing siding products.
An insurance company may try to keep these details out of the scope of work to save money which ultimately could mean problems, such as leaks, down the road.
Photo credit: https://www.gaf.com
Step 3) To file or not to file – Save THOUSANDS
Typically, after inspecting your roof, a contractor will provide you with clear direction such as, “Yes, you should file a claim” or “No, don’t file a claim”. They look at factors such as how much damage is actually present to provide you with their feedback.
Tips for the homeowner to consider before filing:
Reasons to Consider Filing:
- Significant storm damage occurred and the repairs are higher than your insurance deductible
- You may sell your home and want to maintain or increase the value by making repairs
- Many homes in your area were hit by hail meaning that, regardless if you file a claim, your insurance rate may increase
Reasons to Consider Not Filing:
- No damage occurred
- Damage was minor and your deductible costly
- Damage was minor and you have an ACV policy
It’s hard to know what to do until you have a professional take a look at what damage, if any, is present. If it is determined that damage is present, your contractor will need to document existing conditions and write up a scope of repair. Note: Make sure your contractor has taken many pictures and videos of the existing damage. This is very important.
Step 4 ) File your claim
Once your contractor has documented your damage, it’s time to file your claim.
Up to this Point You have:
- Read & understood your home insurance policy
- Obtain a hail inspection from a highly skilled licensed contractor
- Obtained a documented damage report or photos depicting damage from a roofer
Now it’s time to…
Checklist for Submitting Claim:
- Locate your insurance policy
- Know the exact date the hail or wind event occurred: If you mix up the date of which storm damage occurred, you risk your claim being denied. Double check the dates.
- Call your insurance company’s “Claims” department to obtain your claim # and an assigned adjuster.
- Ask what type of adjuster they are sending (CAT or Staff): It is valuable to know which type of adjuster is coming out. We will learn about the differences below.
- Set up an appointment with your adjuster and simultaneously notify your contractor so they can be present during the adjuster’s visit.
Step 5 ) Meet with your Adjuster
There are 2 different types of adjusters whom could potentially be sent to inspect your property.
- Catastrophe Adjuster (CAT): This kind of adjuster is professionally trained to inspect property damages from hail, wind, hurricane, etc when catastrophe strikes. These adjusters have a keen eye since their niche is in responding to disaster. Most often they are private consultants not employed by insurance companies.
- Staff Adjuster- A staff adjuster is employed by an insurance company and is responsible for a broad range of claims such as hail & wind, stolen goods, flooding, etc.
The type of adjuster your insurance company sends completely depends on the situation. If a huge storm blew through town resulting in many hail damage cases, a CAT adjuster will most likely be sent. This is probably your best bet for maximizing your claim since CAT adjusters are highly versed in spotting hail/wind damage.
What to expect: Your adjuster will do a thorough inspection of the property to determine the amount of damage present. Make sure your contractor is present so he can point out any damages the adjuster may miss.
Your contractor will be able to gauge the situation and bring up valid points (if necessary) such as the list below:
-Local codes that apply to the scope of work
-Existing gaps in code compliance that need to be brought up to code with roof replacement
-Were all measurements done correctly
-Local areas market value (cost of materials, etc)
All of the above points should be carefully considered during the assessment period since they directly affect repair costs.
Your contractor will act as your advocate to make sure all damage and the required construction detailing (according to building codes/manufacturers specs) is brought to the attention of the adjuster.
Step 6) Settlement or Negotiation:
Once your adjuster has finished the damage assessment and analysis, they may make you a settlement offer. Talk with your contractor to decide if the funds are adequate. If not, your contractor (or you) will have the option to negotiate. It is often best to let your contractor handle the negotiations since they have the insider information on building and the installation of specific products. Click here for more tips on how to go about this.
Step 7) Taking it One Step Further – Get High Level Authority on your Side
If you find that that your insurance company is giving you a significant amount of push back on your desired settlement price and your contractor’s scope of repair, you may want to get some more backing power in order to speed the process up.
The good news is that there are high authority entities out there whom can help.
Ask your contractor if they have ever worked with a structural engineer on insurance claims. If they have not, jump on the computer and find out if there are any structural engineering firms locally whom deal with residential insurance claims. Make sure you read reviews to see what other people are saying.
Residential engineers can perform inspections, analysis, report generation, and even create scopes of work. Because structural engineers are the top dogs in the construction industry, insurance companies will typically approve work & deliver correct funds more promptly. Click here to learn more about residential structural engineers.
It has been our experience that most insurance companies would rather work with the homeowner/contractor then go to court once an engineer has been involved. However, if you still aren’t satisfied with your settlement offer after an engineer has gotten involved, you do have the option to pursue litigation. Speak with a lawyer on this to determine if you have a strong case.
Step 8) Case Closed: Getting Paid
Once your adjuster has approved your scope of work and you’ve come to an agreement on your settlement, payment will be claimed in 1 to 3 steps.
Step 1 -Your insurance company will send a check for the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your claim. Actual Cash Value is described as Replacement Cost-Depreciation. If the total amount due is over $10,000.00, a check will most likely be issued to your mortgage company.
Step 2 (If necessary) -If your contractor discovers additional damage once work has begun, a secondary supplemental insurance claim will need to be filed. This is common because a contractor will not know the existing condition of certain materials until the roof is off. Make sure all newly discovered damage is documented in detail.
Step 3 – A secondary check will be released from your insurance company to cover the Recoverable Cash Value (RCV) of the claim. This check will cover the remaining costs.