What’s my first step if I have hail/wind damage?

There are two possible steps if you’d like to get a professional opinion of hail damage. One is to call your insurance company/agent and report the claim. Most insurance company’s rates do not go up if you turn in a loss, but that is always a possibility. The other step is to call a professional roofing contractor who has the requisite experience/certifications to identify hail/wind damage. One of the reasons it may make sense to call a professional roofing contractor first is you will not alert the insurance company to the loss unless there is one. Professional roofing contractors are motivated to find damage and the ethical contractors will not make up damage where there is none. Insurance adjusters are also fair and honest and the relationship between professional roofing contractors and insurance adjusters is almost always amiable.

What happens after I alert my insurance company that I may have had hail/wind damage?

They will assign an insurance adjuster to your claim who will arrange a time to come and take a look at your property to ascertain what the extent of the damage is.

What happens after I call a roofing contractor to come and check out my roof?

Professional roofing contractors will arrange a time to inspect your roof and property to ascertain what the extent of the damage is. It is a good idea if you can be there at that point in order to be fully apprised of the insurance company and roofing contractor’s process in moving ahead with the project. It’s a good idea to have the insurance adjuster and your selected roofing contractor meet on site at the same time. This has proven to be the most pain-free experience for homeowners.

What is an insurance adjuster’s role and responsibility?

An insurance adjuster is the representative of the insurance company who comes out and inspects your roof to verify damage prior to paying for the damage. It is their responsibility to report their findings to the insurance company and often they have the software that is necessary to arrive at the cost of the damage. They often have influence in the final outcome of the payout but are not the final authority in most cases. The final authority for processing your claim is most often the responsibility of the insurance person at the corporate office who is assigned to your claim.

Is the adjuster independent or are they employees of the insurance company?

This really doesn’t make a difference but is just something that some of our customers ask. Adjusters can either be from independent adjuster companies or they may be employees of the insurance company. Often the larger the company, the greater likelihood that they will have adjusters on staff.

What can my insurance agent do for me?

Contacting your agent when you are unhappy with the insurance company certainly is an option if you have a strong relationship with the agent. He may be able to place some pressure (if necessary) on the adjuster/company but often has limited influence in the final outcome.

How are insurance payouts determined for hail or wind damage?

Many of the insurance adjusters use computer software such as “Exactimate” to estimate the replacement cost. Rates within these programs are often set by the least common denominator from the last major hail storm in an area. These rates are often less than the prevailing rates that were in the area before the hail/wind storm hit. This is because the major hailstorms bring a lot of migrant workers (both legal and illegal) into an area and the rates drop because of the feeding frenzy of roofers.

What do I do if the insurance company is offering one price and my preferred roofing contractor has a higher price?

Most professional roofing contractors are willing and able to negotiate directly with your insurance adjuster or company. Often there is a different scope of work or something is missed by the adjuster. At the point where your professional roofing contractor cannot resolve price differences, you have a choice. Either you would pay the difference between the insurance payout and the contractor’s price, or find another contractor who will do the work for the amount that the insurance company is willing to give you. A word of advice; have only one contractor at a time deal with the insurance company/adjuster or they’ll get awfully confused.

What is the difference between a replacement policy vs actual cash value policy?

A ‘replacement policy’ means that you are entitled to a complete replacement of the damaged area of your house no matter how old your roof is. An ‘actual cash value policy’ means that the insurance company takes into account how old your roof is and they will take the new cost of the roof and discount the settlement payout for depreciation. In other words, if your roof is ten years old and it would typically last twenty years, the insurance company will only pay you 1/2 of the full replacement cost. Needless to say, a replacement policy is typically better than an actual cash value policy.

Your insurance company will likely make two payments to you if you have a replacement policy. The first payment will be the equivalent of the actual cash value of the roof. The insurance company will pay the difference if you actually have the repairs done and have an invoice and completion statement from a professional contractor.

Do I need to get two or three quotes (proposals) from different roofing contractors?

Most insurance adjusters and agents will recommend that you get two or three proposals. You certainly should get multiple proposals IF you need them to pick someone you are comfortable working with through the roofing project, but your policy likely does not require that you get multiple proposals.

Do I have to work with the lowest price of the proposals I obtain from roofing contractors, or can I choose the roofing company I’m most comfortable with?

It is recommended that you select your preferred roofing contractor based on the merits that you deem most important. You are under no obligation to work with the lowest priced contractor. If that serves your interests best, then that would be the right thing to do. Once you select a roofing contractor, you may want to have them work with the insurance adjuster or company to get an agreed-upon price for the project.

What if I want to put on a different type of roof than I currently have?

Insurance companies will only pay for replacement (providing you have a replacement policy) of the type of roof you currently have. This doesn’t mean that that is the type of roof you have to settle for. This can be the perfect time to upgrade to the roof that makes the most sense for you. After all, your insurance company is paying for the major portion of the investment in a new roof.

What if there is additional damage that is found after the contractor and insurance company have agreed on a price?

If the damage is related to the storm, or if the re-work cannot be completed without doing this additional work, a professional contractor can reopen the claim with the insurance adjuster and get compensation for that work as well.

Why does it make sense to have a professional roofing contractor negotiate with the insurance company rather than doing it myself?

It may make sense for you to do the negotiation yourself if you have time and know the language of the insurance and roofing industries. If you are unsure of your own capabilities, this may be a good time to find a professional contractor you trust to guide you through this potential minefield.

What do I do if I am being pressured to sign an agreement or contract with a contractor I’ve never heard of or that is from outside of the area?

If you are pressured to sign a contract to have a contractor perform your project before you are comfortable doing so, then do not sign it. If you have already signed an agreement don’t worry, a consumer has ten days in which to back out of the contract. Often contractors that are storm chasers insist on a quick signature and promise a trouble free insurance experience. They often employ migrant crews that have no roots in the community and will be gone as soon as the insurance work is done. There is no rush with most insurance companies and you typically have at least one year to file a claim and often up to two years to complete the work. Local contractors advise to relax, take a deep breath, watch the frenzy of storm chasers come and go. After that is all done, call a local contractor who is still around and get them involved in whatever way you choose.

How do I know if a contractor is local or not?

Many of them give out local phone numbers. Yellow pages can verify that a contractor has been in a area for a period of time. Local contractors will be able to supply you with a list of local projects that they have done over the years with completion dates.

That will wrap up our Hail Damage FAQ’s but we are more than willing to answer any more questions that you have!