Wind Damage Roof Insurance Claims (A Guide on What To Do)
Thunderstorms, wind storms, hail storms, and even tornadoes can all cause wind damage to your property – and even high winds can wreak havoc on unsecured structures or rooftops, causing roof leaks and other potentially catastrophic roof damage.
If you live somewhere where wind damage or wind storms are a regular occurrence, you should know how to handle wind damage insurance claims and similar insurance issues, which are often covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy – but as always, examine the policy and see if you are covered for wind damage to your roof or other property, or if you need to sign up for additional wind insurance coverage.
Need some assistance insuring your policy, dealing with wind damage, or filing a claim for roof repair after a windstorm or other major weather event?
There’s more help than you think – have you thought of contacting a public adjuster? These professionals have expertise and experience dealing with insurance companies, and they will be your best advocate from gathering the initial estimates to getting the final insurance payout to fix the damage to your roof.
What is Wind Damage?
Wind damage to your property can occur when you experience any kind of storm or other weather event with high winds.
Most people associate wind damage with major storms like tornadoes and hurricanes, but any high winds can cause property damage.
“Damaging winds” or “straight line winds” are classified as exceeding 50 to 60 miles per hour but can reach up to one hundred miles per hour.
These types of winds are considered to be different from the types of winds that cause tornadoes.
They are often caused by downdrafts during severe thunderstorms, but damaging winds can be caused by a number of other weather scenarios as well.
That said, damage from severe thunderstorm winds accounts for approximately half of all severe wind damage claims in the lower 48 states.
Damaging winds can produce a stretch of damage that extends for hundreds of miles, and anyone living or owning property in areas of the world that are prone to thunderstorms are at risk for wind damage as well as other weather hazards.
Note that if you own or live in a mobile home, you’re particularly at risk for wind damage, since these types of properties (even when solidly anchored) can be seriously damaged when winds reach 80 miles per hour or higher.
One thing that every business owner and homeowner should know – regardless of whether you live or work in an area that’s prone to windstorms – be sure to document the state of your property and other assets before disaster strikes.
You can easily use your smartphone to take photos and videos of all the different parts of your property.
These images and videos will be invaluable if you need to make a roof damage insurance claim for wind damage or really any other type of claim in the future.
Your future self will thank your previous self – and so will the roofing company and public adjuster!
Areas and Properties that are More Prone to Wind Damage
Anyone living in an area that’s prone to thunderstorms is susceptible to wind damage is at risk for experiencing wind damage, since most thunderstorms produce straight line or damaging winds.
Also, keep in mind that high winds don’t hit or impact evenly across your roof or building’s surface, so even if some part of the surface look undamaged to the naked eye, it might not be safe to walk on or even to inhabit the building it covers.
What’s more, experiencing strong winds may result in more than the immediate and obvious wind damage – roofs, siding, and other parts of the property subject to wind damage may show more damage or increased problems with stress points over time since the integrity of the property has been compromised.
What Causes Wind Damage
Wind is caused by changes in atmospheric pressure; when there are differences in atmospheric pressure, air moves from higher to lower areas, which can result in anything from a gentle breeze to gale force winds depending on many other factors.
Wind storms can and do occur in any region of the United States.
When gusts of wind blow over and across your property, their movement – and therefore the damage they can cause – is not uniform.
The corners and edges of your roof are more likely to be damaged by high or strong winds, since they are more susceptible to high stress than the center parts of your roof.
In fact, most wind damage to roofs begins at the edge (according to the National Roofing Contractors Association); that said, anywhere the roofing material is a little bit loose is liable to be damaged in strong winds.
You can avoid some wind damage by ensuring that the materials along the edge and corners of your roof are sturdy and in good condition.
Note that wind damage can looks relatively minor at the beginning or even be tough to spot, but can quickly escalate over time, especially if you experience regular storms or high winds.
Keep in mind that if a corner or piece of insulation becomes exposed, roof leaks from rain and even hail can cause further water damage issues to your roof and the interior of your property.
When roofing materials are damaged by winds, the edges or loose spots have wind get underneath them and push up the shingles or other material, which then gives the wind more ability to grab on to them and push them up and off the roof, creating a sort of chain effect as the roofing materials peel off.
Debris, Tree Branches, and a Wind Damaged Roof
Wind storms and other significant weather events can also cause debris like broken glass from windows, tree branches, and other items that could potentially damage your property can often be just as or even more damaging to your roof than the strong winds themselves.
Tree branches and glass can gouge, scratch, or even puncture your roofing materials in addition to the wind damage.
You can protect your property as much as you can by keeping any trees trimmed and free of overhanging branches near your roof.
After a major wind storm, thunderstorm, or similar weather, you should check out your roof and the rest of your property for debris on the roof along with the gutters and downspouts, because tree branches, leaves, and such can clog them up, which can cause plenty of issues in the future.
Fallen trees and other large objects are best removed by professionals with the experience and equipment to execute these tasks safely – do not attempt to remove fallen trees, large branches, or similar debris from wind damage on your own.
Protecting your Property from Wind Damage in Advance
If you want to protect your property from wind damage in the future, using lighter weight landscaping materials like mulch or shredded bark (as opposed to gravel or rocks), keeping trees trimmed clear of the roof, and having your roof checked out right away if you think there are wind damaged shingles or other problematic spots – and you should do this before you experience high winds or other potentially dangerous weather, especially if you live in an older home or property that hasn’t had the roof inspected or updated in a while.
You may also want to consider permanent manual or automatic storm shutters if you live in an area that’s particularly likely to experience storms that include high winds; if you go the automatic route make sure you can still operate them manually if the motor fails at an inopportune time.
Temporary plywood covers can be kept on hand if you don’t have permanent shutters and a storm or other weather event is upon you.
Garage doors can also be reinforced with wood or metal stiffeners that you can attach if a storm is on the horizon.
You should also remove or anchor loose objects like BBQ grills, deck or outdoor furniture, fountains, and even trash cans in the event of an impending storm.
If you live in or own a mobile home, you’re especially at risk for wind damage or even more serious problems. Anchored mobile homes can be significantly damaged when winds reach 80 miles per hour, and unanchored homes are even more at risk.
If you live in a mobile home, you should make sure that your insurance covers wind damage and consider taking alternate shelter if a major storm or other powerful weather event is incoming.
How To Tell If You Have Wind Damage To Your Roof
The effect that wind damage has on your roof depends on roof types and material used, as well as the range and power of the winds.
That’s why it’s important to immediately inspect your roof after a storm or wind event (of course, wait until the weather event is over and things are safe – and always call a local roofer if you’re unsure or don’t want to get up on a ladder on your roof).
You can start by checking for missing or curled, cracked, torn, or otherwise damaged shingles on your rooftop and around your home or other property, since shingles or other roofing materials may have blown off during the wind events.
Sometimes, you may be able to address the wind damage problem yourself, particularly if you are handy and experienced with DIY repairs and the damage is relatively localized (think less than 30% of the overall roof).
However, if you suspect the damage is significant, do not try to get up on your roof yourself – call a professional roof inspector who has the proper experience and tools to climb up and check out your roof for wind damage safely.
If you’re tech-savvy type and have a drone (or a friend or family member who can help you out with one), you can use that drone to inspect your roof safely and get detailed images of potential damage.
You should also be sure to examine the chimney, ventilation pipes, roof flashing, fencing, and gutters, since they can also become damaged by strong winds.
Inspect the roof from inside the attic or wherever you can access it from the inside is also essential – this may show you a different view of potential damage or spots where roof leaks may occur.
Brown, gray, or yellow water spotting, peeling or cracks in the wall paper or paint, and damp rafters or ceilings are one sign that your roof may have been compromised by wind damage or related problems.
If you have recently experienced a major increase in energy costs that can’t be explained in another way, you may have also have damaged ventilation in your roof.
Types Of Wind Damage to Your Roof
If you have a shingled roof, you may experience more wind damage during storms or high winds than property owners with flat roofs or other types of roofs, since winds can “lift” or curl the shingles.
Here’s a list of what type of roof damage that you should be looking for depending on the type of roof you have on your property:
- Wood damaged shingles or shakes: splitting, shingles blown off, curling, and mold or decay over time
- Composition shingles: broken, damaged, or missing shingles, curling, and a loss of granulation.
- Roofing cement: crumbling, ripples, and unevenness in the cement.
- Flat roof: cracks, tears, blisters, or wrinkles, especially in areas that have previously been patched. You should check those patched areas from inside the attic, crawl space, or top floor of your house if you have access.
- Flashing: tears, punctures, and buckling, especially around the corners.
- Chimneys: Look for damaged bricks, loose or missing flashing, or cracks in the joints or cap. Because a chimney can settle separately from the rest of the house’s structure, chimney flashing is especially prone to damage and tearing. The chimney may even be leaning or listing to one side if the wind damage is severe.
- Soffits, fascia, and ridge vents: decay, stains, curling or missing shingles, tears in the flashing, or clogged or damaged vents.
- Gutters: bent, sagging, or even missing sections of the gutters or downspout need to be repaired as soon as possible. Leaky seams, decay, rust, damage to where the gutters attach to the structure (the gutter will feel loose – like it might fall off easily). Also, be aware that clogged gutters can freeze shut in the winter, which can cause ice dams, excessive weight on the gutter attachment points, and slippery paths below the gutters.
Of course, more extensive wind damage to your roof from a storm that features strong or high winds or other weather events may require a complete replacement.
This may be covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy.
Talk to a professional contractor for costs and a public adjuster to help you make an insurance claim – read on to learn more about that process.
How To Repair a Wind Damage Roof
It is definitely possible to repair some types of wind damage yourself, especially if you’re particularly handy or good at DIY tasks. However, anything more than minor patching really requires the assistance of an experienced contractor.
If you have wind damage to your roof caused by high winds and the accompanying flying debris, you need to start the repair process right away, starting by working with an experienced contractor to get an estimate and mitigate any further damage by covering the damaged areas of your roof, windows, etc. with tarps, plywood, heavy plastic, or other protective coverings – your contractor will have the tools for this type of thing.
Moreover, you think there may be structural damage, electrical problems, or gas leaks, shut off your electricity, natural gas, or propane tank at the source (or have your utility provider do this), since you may be at risk for fires, electrocution if you attempt to do repair work yourself, and even gas explosions.
Your roofing contractor will know how to help you get this done if need be.
If you are walking in or around debris in your yard or elsewhere on your property, be sure to wear sturdy shoes or boots (steel toed if you have them), long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and other protective clothing – most injuries that occur after major storms are caused by things like broken glass, exposed nails, or other sharp objects.
You may need to purchase things like tarp, plywood, and other protective materials during the wind damage repair process in order to protect your roof from further damage before long term repairs can be performed.
Be sure to keep any receipts to submit for reimbursement with your insurance claim.
That said, do not embark on any major repairs yourself before you get an inspection and speak with your public adjuster and any other necessary professionals, so you fully understand what is covered and what might not be.
How to Find a Contractor to Help Repair Wind Damage
Need to find a professional with wind damage repair skills?
Your public adjuster can help – they are your advocates during the roof insurance claim process as well as the repair process, and they will have a network of talented and trustworthy professionals who are experienced with repairing wind damage and related roof damage.
Also, be on the lookout for fly-by-night outfits or contractors that show up immediately after a major storm or other weather event looking to help property owners repair their roofs and other areas of their homes from wind damage.
Granted, while many of these contractors may possess legitimate skills and experience and they are just trying to get business, you should never make repairs without getting a proper estimate from a licensed contractor and speaking to your public adjuster about the associated wind storm roof damage insurance claim.
Also, look up reviews and google the contractor’s own name as well as their business name – a quality company’s search results should reflect their pride and commitment to their work.
Know that you don’t always have to accept the first estimate from your contractor or the first offer from your insurance company – and a reputable roofing company or public adjuster can help you figure everything out.
What Should You Do After Filing a Roof Damage Insurance Claim Wind
After working with your public adjuster to file a claim from wind insurance, you’ll want to contact some experience contractors to give you estimates for roof repairs, a possible replacement roof or new roof.
They will help you find experienced roofing contractors who can give you estimates for roof repairs and help to determine how much work needs to be done, or whether the roof needs to be completely replaced.
The contractors and your public adjuster will also help develop a timeline for repairs so you know how long it’ll be before you can fully use your property again.
Your adjuster will also work out a timeline for potential payouts so you can figure out your finances accordingly; also keep in mind that you may be able to recoup some interim costs if your home or commercial property is uninhabitable for a period of time (generally in the case of a total roof replacement).
How a Public Adjuster Can Help If You Have Wind Damage to Your Roof
If you’ve made it this far, then you know that if you’re dealing with wind damage on your roof, then one of the first things that you should do (after calling your public adjuster of course) is a wind damage roof inspection starting with the roof inside and out, or have it inspected and locate the damaged spots and assess the extent of the damage.
Next, you or your contractor should mitigate the damage however you can by using tarps or other protective materials – this will be important for your insurance claim later, so you can show that you took the necessary steps in order to not let the wind damage to your roof get worse.
Then, inspect your insurance policy and call your public adjuster to find contractors, get estimates, and plan the next steps.
Again, if you are not comfortable with clamoring around on your rooftop or in your attic, then you can call in professional contractors and inspectors.
Worried about paying for the repairs or how to bill your insurance company or contractors?
That’s when you should work with a public adjuster.
Their role is to be your advocate and they are always on your side with your best interests in mind, as opposed to the insurance company which is seeking to pay out the least amount possible.
Public adjusters earn percentages on wind damage roof insurance claims, so not only do they have motivation to make sure you received a fair settlement, the value for you as their client will become a partnership, which means you also don’t need to pay anything up front for their services – which is helpful when you’re dealing with the after effects of a major weather event!
Wind storms and the resulting wind damage to your property can be extremely stressful to deal with – but your roofing contractor or public adjuster is your best friend during these times.