Storm Damage Insurance Claims: How-To File Guide
Mother Nature is full of surprises. If you own a home, it’s never a question of if your roof will sustain storm damage. It’s a question of when, as well as what you can do to fully prepare for such a situation.
When your home does suffer storm damage, you may focus your full attention on the here and now:
- Leaks & roof damage
- Broken glass
- Fallen trees
- General clean-up
Keep in mind, though, that filing an insurance claim sooner—rather than later—will play a huge role in the future safety of your home and roofing system. Therefore, it’s essential that you take a step back to assess the damage with a clear head, especially your roof, as this can make a big difference in the settlement you receive.
How to Assess Storm Damage to Your Roof
There are an abundance of elements that threaten the integrity of your roof: wind, rain, snow, or hail—all of which may result in different forms of damage.
When assessing your roof, pay special attention to the following:
- Are any shingles missing or noticeably out of place?
- Are there dents from hail or branches?
- Are your shingles suffering granule loss?
Note: Granules help protect shingles from UV rays that cause roofs to age and deteriorate, so remember to never overlook damage to this area.
Assess flashing around vents, chimneys and other roof protrusions to ensure it’s still fastened securely in place.
Check around roof edges, vents and chimneys and make sure sealant is intact.
This is particularly important after extremely heavy rains, or if you discover damage to the above-listed roofing components.
- Check attic insulation for moisture
- Check around your ceiling for water intrusion
Keep in mind, however, that if your insulation is dry, and there aren’t visible signs of water damage on your ceiling, it doesn’t mean your roofing membrane wasn’t compromised and didn’t take in moisture.
Even the smallest amount of moisture can eventually lead to rotting underlayment, mold and other significant problems.
Filing a Storm Damage Insurance Claim?
Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Now that you know how to assess storm damage to your roof, there are 7 more steps in the insurance claim process. Courtesy of the National Storm Damage Center, we’ve compiled a quick “how-to guide” to help you stay on track with filing and get the settlement you deserve.
Step 1: Assess the Storm Damage
In addition to assessing the storm damage to your roof, be sure to also record the date of the storm, signs of damage you can see from the ground, and capture pictures of any damage.
Search online for news stories about the storm hitting your area, so you have proof if it’s ever required.
Step 2: Interview Reputable Contractors
Don’t take the first contractor to darken your doorstep after a storm ravages your area. Instead, take a proactive stance and interview three reputable local contractors.
Have each of the three inspect/document damage (with photos). Ask questions about which materials each contractor uses as material quality can run the gamut. Afterward, you can determine which contractor is the best fit.
Step 3: Contact Your Insurance Company
Read your insurance policy carefully before contacting the claims department of your insurance provider. It’s important that you understand your rights before you talk to someone.
Be prepared to provide pictures, and the estimate from the contractor you have chosen to work with.
Step 4: Request an Insurance Adjuster
Insist your contractor is present during the adjuster inspection. Your contractor’s job is to ensure the adjuster plays fair and provides you with a fair assessment. Remember, the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company and may have an incentive to deny your claim, if they think they can.
Step 5: Don’t Worry If Your Claim Gets Denied
You’re entitled to a second opinion. Remember, even a small amount of damage should result in an approved claim. Any type of damage can devalue your home and damage should be fixed immediately before it leads to greater damage down the road.
Step 6: Watch For Payments
Once your claim is approved, your insurance company will send you two separate payments. The first payment, or materials deposit, covers the cost of materials. Make sure your contractor orders materials in your name and uses your check to pay for your materials.
Step 7: Get Ready for Repairs
After your materials are delivered, your contractor will get to work. Any changes to the written bid should be submitted in writing for your approval. No additional payment is due until all the storm damage roof repairs are complete.
Once your project has passed a city inspection, you’ll have a chance to approve the job before making final payment. Ensure the job is done to your satisfaction, and your contractor signs a lien waiver, before handing over the second payment.
Important Note: When filing a storm damage insurance claim, remember most state laws prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies for filing claims in an Act of God storm damage situation. In most states, insurance companies cannot single you out for a rate increase.
If the insurance company is going to raise rates, they have to raise everyone’s rates in your area. So, if you don’t file a claim, your personal rate increase will pay for everyone else’s claim except for yours.
Final Tips for Filing a Storm Damage Insurance Claim
- Don’t delay! Insurance companies usually place a time limit on filing a claim.
- Your insurance restoration contractor can be your advocate, so be sure to hire the best contractor, not the cheapest.
- Beware of your insurance company’s “approved” contractors.
- Review your coverage with your agent before you need it, so you understand all your rights.
- Remember that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. They may try to deny your claim, so you must be your own strongest advocate.
Find Storm Damage Roof Repair Near You
You don’t have to navigate this process alone. At All Elements, we’re here to walk you through each step and answer any questions you may have along the way. If you incur roof damage this season, give us a call.
We’d be happy to provide you with a thorough, professional and timely estimate so you can get your repairs underway and avoid further damage!