If your home or roof sustains hail damage, wind damage, or some other type of damage covered by your insurance, they should be ready to step up and pay for a roof replacement. Still, insurance companies have rules and regulations. Navigating through the process of an insurance claim on your home can require time and experience. As a licensed insurance claims adjuster, I know and have seen this process firsthand. As both a homeowner and a business owner, let me share a few tips to help you through the claims process.
1. Take the time to read your policy, or have your agent explain it to you.
Find your homeowner's policy and read all of it... yes... including the fine print.
In some cases, you may prefer to call your insurance agent and make an appointment. In that case, you should write your questions down beforehand so you can work from a list.
A few key things you should ask about your policy include:
- Does it cover any water damage, or just water damage by hurricane and hail?
- How does it cover fallen tree branches?
- Does it cover the full replacement value of your roof, or just a depreciated value depending on the age of your roof?
- How much is your deductible vs the cost of the repairs?
2. Don't forget to document everything.
Take Photos of Your Property
If your home has suffered serious damage and you feel the need to act and place temporary fixes to prevent further damage, do not forget to take photos first.
You'll need these, especially when your insurance adjuster pays a visit and your home looks different from when you initially called.
Ideally you should also have a set of "before" photos, taken before the home was damaged. Go ahead and take those right now, and save them somewhere safe, then keep reading.
Keep Notes of Every Person You Speak To & What They Say
When you make a call to your insurance agent or insurance company, be sure to have a notepad handy. As soon as the representative says their name and department, write that down as well. Take some notes while you speak with them so you may refer back to them later.
As you are transferred between departments and such you should add to your notes to prevent confusion down the line. Having your own record allows you to later tell your insurance company "That's not what Janet in Claims told me." or "Bill from Customer Service said I was entitled to 99% of the repairs."
3. Be ready for an inspection by an insurance claims adjuster.
Depending on your area and insurance company you may be visited by one inspector or two, and they could be a professional appraiser, an authorized roofing contractor, or any other sort of authorized inspector.
Try to meet with them as soon as possible after you've assessed the damage - it increases your chances of getting paid quickly.
Once the inspector is there, be prepared to argue your case: they may try to underestimate the damage or to void the claim altogether.
Be prepared to explain why the damage should be covered, and don't be shy about asking for the amount of money you will need for your roof replacement.
4. Do your research & get an estimate
I cannot emphasize this enough: do your research before hiring a roofing company. I would encourage you check for accreditations with reputable sources such as the Better Business Bureau and you state's contractor association.
Settle on a company that you like and trust and make sure they are present at all meetings with your adjusters and/or inspectors
When requesting an estimate, be sure to get this estimate in writing and with as much detail as possible, including:
- material sources
- brand names
- warranty information
- roofer's license and insurance information
Make sure that your roof replacement meets all of the local specifications, including a choice of materials and installation techniques that meet your state's safety, environmental and durability requirements.
Additionally, your homeowner's association may have rules on color, style and warranty.
Many states issue certifications for roofing companies, and you will have to provide proof of these before your payment is issued.
Remember to take photos throughout the process and to save copies of all bills and receipts in case there is a discrepancy down the road.
5. Remember that a lot of things are still negotiable.
You can negotiate your storm damage repair with a construction contractor, even after you've received an estimate.
In some cases, even the payment the insurance inspector is calculating can be negotiable. A professional roofing company can often assist you in negotiating a more appropriate payment depending on the damages.