When you least expect it an event such as last evening’s hail storm happens and mother nature strikes! Here are five easy tips to follow for insurance claims.
- Document everything. When a hailstorm or other damaging weather event occurs, the first step you should take is to document the damage and in as much detail as possible, ideally with photos of video. Some important things to capture are the size of any hailstones (photograph them next to a ruler), visible damage to windows, roof or exterior, and any damage to trees and landscaping around the property. Also, check the interior for any sign of leaks.
- Be wary of misleading and dishonest roofing contractors. Assuming that the roof is not leaking or show the need for immediate emergency repair, the next step is to solicit an inspection report from your management company’s experts or an inspection service. Do not have the contractor or a public adjustor do the inspection! Your inspector will advise whether the damage to your roof merits filing an insurance claim.It is very important in this phase that you DO NOT sign any type of agreement or contract with the roofer. Oftentimes disingenuous contractors will try to trap you in what is called a “contingency contract,” but frame it under the guise of a “roof inspection report.”
This means that they include language in the agreement stating that you must use the contractor in question to make the repairs or pay a cancellation fee, or that you are that appointing the roofer to act as your agent to the insurance company.
- Choose a reputable contractor. Ask your management company whom they recommend. Ask about their reliability, insurance and worker’s comp coverage, warranties and guarantees. Please ensure to only work with factory-certified roofing contractors. (The two most common certifications are GAF and CertainTeed.) Set an appointment for the inspection and be very clear that no repairs should be made at this time and that this is just an inspection.
Again: DO NOT sign any kind of agreement!As a caution: listen and watch for any evidence of hammering or scraping coming from the rooftop; sometimes unscrupulous contractors will attempt to create new damage that looks like it was created by hail.
- Make the claim. Work with the experts at your management company to file the insurance claim. They will work with you to get everything in order, including the details of your insurance policy number and deductible, plus get documentation labeled and organized. Once you have an assigned claims number an insurance adjuster will come out and make an inspection in order to prepare an estimate.
- Schedule the adjuster inspection. Your management company should schedule the adjuster’s inspection. The photos and videos taken of the damage should be shared with the adjuster prior to the inspection.
The insurance adjuster will typically take photos of the damage and may mark off segments of the roof with chalk to analyze the number of hail marks per square foot. In the case of very steep or high roofs, he or she may also bring along a team of specialists with proper safety gear and training to analyze these areas.At the end of the inspection the adjuster will prepare a report of his or her findings, prepare an estimate to either repair or replace the roof if it is warranted, and send that report along to a claims examiner. The claims examiner will then review it and make a decision on your claim.
Note: Hail damage claims and their outcomes vary on a case by case basis, even within close proximity and sometimes the same neighborhood. Sometimes one neighbor’s claim will be approved while another’s isn’t, and this is dependent on a number of factors. The severity of the damage, the materials and construction of the roof, and varying criteria between insurance companies are all factors in the decision process.