Just because your roof is leaking or old and worn out doesn’t mean that your insurance company will pay for a repair or full replacement. In almost every instance your insurer will require proof your roof was recently damaged by a storm, usually from high winds or hail.
So what steps can you do as a homeowner to improve your odds of getting your insurance company to pay for a roof repair or replacement with little hassle? JH3 Company proposes you follow these 5 helpful steps.
#1- Gather the evidence
After a storm has passed, it’s important you immediately begin documenting any damage. Write down the time and date that the storm occurred because your insurance company will ask you this question. If visible signs of roof damage can be seen from your property, such as missing or damaged shingles littered across the roof or yard, take pictures. The same goes for any collateral damage both inside and outside your house. This might include damaged skylights, gutters, house siding, yard structures, etc. We do not advise you attempt to climb onto your roof to take close up pictures. That job should be left to a professional roofing contractor and the insurance company’s adjuster.
#2 – Schedule a roof inspection
It’s absolutely a good idea to call a licensed roofing contractor immediately after the storm to schedule a free roof inspection without any strings attached, such as signing a contingency agreement. Just be aware that if a storm caused roof damage to other homes in your neighborhood, you may have to wait in line because everybody else is doing the same thing. An experienced roofing contractor will be able to tell you immediately if they realistically believe you should file a claim.
#3 – File an insurance claim
Now you want to review your homeowners insurance policy and pay particular attention to the policy exclusions and your deductible. To protect themselves from fraud, many insurance companies will not pay if your roof was poorly maintained or nearing its life expectancy. In addition, some insurance companies will not want to pay for roof materials that require extra maintenance, such as recycled shakes, slate or other “green” materials.
Providing you don’t believe your policy will not exclude your roof for being partially repaired or fully replaced, you will file a claim by calling your insurance companies toll free number or going to their website to file a claim online. Write down the claim # for reference and expect a follow up call or email from an insurance adjuster.
#4 – Meet the insurance adjuster or agent
We recommend you have a roofing contractor revisit your house at the same time you are meeting your insurance adjuster or agent. This ensures he will not miss anything that your roofing contractor found during his roof inspection.
Insurance adjusters are for the most part very diligent in their inspections, and will take meticulous notes and pictures during their inspection. Be prepared to answer any questions directly and honestly. Don’t try to be evasive with him. Be friendly and courteous. The last thing you want to do is get angry or yell at the insurance adjuster. Once he has finished, he will usually tell you on the spot his findings and recommendations. Whether you agree or disagree with him, now is not the time to argue or get emotional. Remember, until his report has been submitted to corporate and approved or denied, there’s no point to assume anything is final.
#5 – Be patient awaiting an answer
You may have the tendency to follow up shortly after the adjuster has completed and submitted his report. We don’t recommend it. Let the claim process take its course. In general, expect 2 business days for the adjuster to submit his report, and another 7-10 business days for corporate to reply back to you with their answer and price estimate. If during this waiting period the adjuster’s recommendation is not approved by corporate, it’s usually the adjuster who will reach out to you.
#6 – Accept or dispute the outcome
While 90% of homeowner insurance claims are settled to repair or replace a damaged roof, 10% are not. Ideally your insurance company agrees to pay for a full roof replacement and cover additional costs for collateral damage so you have to pay your deductible only, and your roofing contractor is compensated to his full satisfaction.
Disputes almost always happen with the amount of money the insurance company agrees to pay for repair or replacement based on the roof’s actual value due to depreciation. Most insurance companies determine their price estimate by using a national database that is updated monthly by zip code.
A low dollar estimate from your insurance company may cause tension between you and the roofing contractor who may not want to do the work because he believes the price is too low.
So what can you do?
We suggest you shop around until you find a roofing contractor that meets your specific needs. For example, some homeowners may be perfectly comfortable using a roofing contractor that is ‘in-network’ with their insurance company because all the work is guaranteed and there’s no fuss about payment between them and your insurance company. Other homeowners may want to hire a roofing company that has a certification with a specific manufacturer, like a GAF Master Elite, and willing to pay more ‘out of pocket’ than what the insurance estimate allows. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
Whoever you hire for whatever reason, just make sure you fully understand your obligations.
You want to know exactly how much you are obligated to pay, to whom and when. You want your roofing contractor to provide his payment terms in writing before you sign. If you are unclear about something, ask they clarify and if necessary document in writing.
Filing an insurance claim for a damaged roof should be fast and uncomplicated. Unfortunately this is not always the case. You need to be organized and prepared. Do your homework. If you are checking references, make sure they provide customers that involved processing an insurance claim. Make sure you hire a licensed roofing company with lots of experience handling insurance claims.
If you think your roof was damaged by a storm in Ventura County, Los Angeles County or Santa Barbara County, JH3 Company will be happy to schedule a free roof inspection, document the damage, and give you an estimate to start your roof insurance claim.