How to Make an Insurance Claim for Your Roof
Photo: Charles Roberts, Flickr.com
Whether you live in Denver near “Hail Alley” and have suffered a hailstorm or your region has suffered through a hurricane, you may need to replace your roof due to weather damage. Even a light wind- or thunderstorm may cause a large branch to fall on your roof, damaging it. You want to file a roof insurance claim against your homeowners policy. What now?
What to Do
When the area you live in has experienced hail or other severe weather conditions, the first thing to do is inspect your property to see if your car, siding or fence has been affected. Damage to these items should be visible from the ground. Don’t go up on your roof — this is a job for experts even at the best of times and it will be extra-dangerous after the roofing has been battered by a storm.
If your siding has been damaged, aside from needing to hire a painter, you’ll know that you need to have your roof inspected as well. Unlike other parts of your home, your roof can sustain damage that may only be apparent in a few years’ time when it starts to leak. Once this happens, it will be too late to file a claim, and installing a new roof from your own budget is an expensive proposition.
Contact Your Insurer
Contact your insurance provider ASAP to find out how to file a claim and what backup you will need. Usually, insurers have a 24/7 toll-free phone number. You can also get in touch with them online or via a mobile app.
Contact an Expert
Because roof damage may appear slight when it first occurs, it’s important to contact a licensed roofing contractor to inspect your home’s roof and see whether damage has occurred. He should give you an estimate as to how much it will cost to fix. If possible, get multiple estimates from 3-4 professional roofers.
When Not to File a Claim
Once you have estimates for the roof repair cost, compare the amount to your deductible. Because insurance companies tend to raise premiums after claims are filed, many professionals recommend not filing a claim unless the cost of repair is three times as much as the deductible. For example, if your deductible is $500, you shouldn’t file a claim if the cost of the repair is less than $1,500. In that case, it’s better to pay out of pocket instead of raising your insurance premium.
Check Your Insurance Policy
Check your homeowners policy to determine whether the cause of your roof damage is covered. You may not be insured against disasters, in which case you’ll be responsible for repairing hurricane or hail damage. If you are covered, contact your insurance provider, who will send an insurance adjuster to inspect your roof. You may also want to hire an independent public adjuster to evaluate your roof insurance claim. While an adjuster from your insurance company might look for ways to avoid covering your repairs, a public adjuster will not, since he’s usually paid a percentage of the settlement.
Often the adjuster will want to be in touch with the roofing contractor to make sure that they agree about the extent of the damage and the cost of repair. Some adjusters may give you a quote on the spot while others may take a few weeks before getting back to you. Certain insurance policies will cover your adjuster’s fee, so read your policy carefully to determine whether this is the case.
- A contractor may offer to pay your deductible for you as a ploy to get you to hire him. While this would save you money, it might also be illegal in your state, because it’s considered insurance fraud.
- Check with your local government as to which benefits you are allowed to receive from the contractor, such as an advertising fee if he places a sign on your property or a referral fee if you send him additional customers.
- If you sign a repair contract with a roofing company and your roof insurance claim is denied, you may be legally allowed to cancel the contract. Once again, check your state policy.
- The best way to protect yourself is to choose a pre-screened, quality roofing contractor with a valid license, bonding, and insurance.
Updated April 17, 2018.