Roof damage insurance claims can be tricky. Some roof damage is always covered by a home insurance policy, while other roof damage is not. We’re providing the most crucial tips you should know about roof insurance claims, dealing with a roof insurance adjuster, and handling a roof inspection.
How Roof Damage Insurance Claims Work
Most home insurance policies cover unexpected roof damage. If your roof was damaged in a storm or by fallen debris, then your home insurance should cover the cost of repairing your roof to its pre-loss condition.
However, roof damage insurance claims aren’t always that easy. Some insurance policies have stipulations about the age of your roof. If your roof is less than 10 years old, for example, then the full value of your roof will be covered. If your roof is older than 10 years, then the insurance company will only reimburse you for the depreciated value of your roof.
With that in mind, here’s how a typical roof damage insurance claims work:
Step 1) A windstorm or hailstorm hits your area. You check your roof after the storm and find significant damage.
Step 2) Secure the scene and limit further damage. If there’s a hole in your roof, for example, then put a tarp over the hole to prevent further flooding or damage within your home.
Step 3) Contact your insurance company’s 24/7 claims line to begin the claims process. Your insurance company will setup a claim number for you and provide further instructions.
Step 4) If your roof is severely damaged, then the insurance company might recommend getting a restoration company to your location immediately to secure the scene and limit further damage.
Step 5) The insurance company sends an adjuster to your house to inspect your claim, assess the damage, and determine what is and is not covered.
Step 6) The insurance company processes your roof damage insurance claim, covering the cost of repairing your roof to its pre-loss condition, or replacing your roof, according to the terms of your policy.
This is how a roof damage insurance claim will be processed in an ideal situation.
In many cases, the insurance company will dispute certain aspects of your insurance claim. In this case, you might want to hire a public adjuster to handle your insurance claim and ensure you receive the maximum possible amount of compensation.
What Type of Roof Damage is Not Covered by Home Insurance?
An average homeowner’s insurance policy usually covers things like roof leaks and other roof damage. If your roof is damaged by fire, hail, or wind, then your home insurance should cover the costs of repairing that damage. If that fire, hail, or wind causes a leak in your roof, then home insurance should cover the cost of repairing the roof and any other damage caused by that leak.
However, there are certain types of roof damage that will not be covered by home insurance, including:
- Wear and tear damage on an older roof
- Damage caused by unresolved maintenance issues; if your roof has been leaking for years, for example, and you have ignored it until recently, then you may not be able to claim damages caused by that leak.
- Roof damage caused by wind and hail if your home insurance policy has wind and hail exclusions. See important tips for roof hail damage here.
- Damage caused by failing to take immediate action after a storm, like failing to put a tarp over the hole in your roof in the days following an accident, leading to more water damage.
Consult your home insurance policy to determine what is and is not covered by your home insurance.
Tips for Handling Roof Inspections and Roof Repair Estimates
Getting an accurate roof inspection when filing a claim is crucial.
An accurate roof damage estimate creates a good foundation for the rest of your insurance claim, helping you get the exact amount of money you need from your insurance company to repair your roof to its pre-loss condition. A bad estimate, on the other hand, can jeopardize your claim entirely.
We recommend contacting a public insurance adjuster or an independent roofing contractor to get an estimate on your roofing damages. An independent contractor can safely get on your roof, inspect the damages, and tell you how much it will cost to repair or replace your roof.
Alternatively, many public adjusters specialize in roofing inspections. Instead of hiring a contractor and a public adjuster, you can just hire a public adjuster to handle all aspects of your claim.
Your insurance company should also send an adjuster to your property. The insurance company’s adjuster will perform the same inspection.
Insurance Companies and Public Adjusters Might Disagree With Each Other’s Estimate
Ideally, the roof repair estimate from your insurance adjuster and the estimate from a public adjuster will be roughly equal. However, the two parties might disagree over certain aspects.
The insurance company’s adjuster might challenge that some roofing damage was not caused by the recent storm – it was pre-existing damage from a previous storm, for example. Or, the insurance adjuster might claim you failed to take adequate steps to protect your roof. Maybe a dead tree fell on your roof in a wind storm. The insurance company might claim that you should have removed that tree long ago.
When disagreements arise over roof damages, consider hiring a public adjuster to resolve the dispute.
How Much Damage? Repairing Versus Replacing your Roof
After the estimate, you can choose to repair or replace your roof.
A minor storm might have only damaged a few shingles. The shingles can safely be replaced without issue.
If the damage affects a larger, more conspicuous area of your home, however, then you may wish to get your entire roof replaced. Depending on how much damage, the age, and type of roof, a full roof replacement may be the best choice for your situation.
Your insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged section of your roof, but you may want to pay to replace the rest of the roof out of pocket.
The roofing contractor or an experienced public adjuster should be able to help you decide whether to repair or replace your roof. The contractor will examine both the exterior of your roof and your attic to determine the extent of the damage. If there’s moisture or water damage, for example, or if you have an older roof, then it may be worth replacing the roof.
How to Inspect your Roof Properly
Roof experts recommend performing a roof inspection twice a year. You should also inspect your roof after every storm or severe weather event such as hail or a windstorm. Remember: It can be crucial to have a thorough and proper inspection of your roof when making an insurance claim for damages. Here are some easy ways to inspect your roof before a professional inspector arrives:
- Walk around the exterior of your home, inspecting the roof for signs of physical damage – like sagging sections or broken shingles. Make note of any spots that need further inspection. A pair of binoculars are very helpful for this.
- Take a close look at spots with moss, algae, or piles of leaves. Moisture can build up within these areas, causing significant water damage underneath.
- Watch for missing, damaged, cracked, or aged shingles. Shingle problems are the leading cause of roof damage. A missing patch of shingles can cause water to enter your home. They’re also an eyesore.
- Check shingles closely to see if the granules are missing. The granules of shingles play an important role in the ability of shingles to naturally protect your home. If the granules are missing, your shingles may need to be replaced.
- Look for shingles that are buckled, curled, or warped. In hot climates, warm air in the attic can penetrate the ceiling and cause your shingles to buckle.
- Get into your attic, if possible, and look for signs of water penetration underneath the roof.
If you spot signs of damage, or if you do not feel comfortable getting up onto your roof, then we recommend contacting a roofing contractor as soon as possible to inspect the damages. The sooner you contact a roofing contractor, the sooner you can initiate the claims process with your insurance company.
Tips for Dealing with a Roof Insurance Claim
Collect Documentation: It’s important to document everything when dealing with a roof damage insurance claim. Take pictures of all the damage and take as many pictures as possible. If your roof was damaged by hail, then take pictures of the biggest hailstones you can find on the ground after the storm, using a tape measure or a golf ball to give the photo scale. Provide documents indicating the cost of the roof, if possible, and any other supporting evidence.
Order an Independent Assessment from a Roofing Contractor: In some cases, an insurance company might dispute your roof damage insurance claim, saying that your roof does not have sufficient damage to warrant a claim. In this situation, it may be in your best interest to schedule an estimate with an independent roofing contractor. The roofer can assess the damage to determine any roof repairs needed and how much it should cost to restore it to pre-loss condition.
Choose a Roofing Contractor with Experience: Just like any other service or professional, experience goes a long way. If your roof damage claim is covered by insurance, then it’s best to choose a roofer with experience in dealing with roof repairs covered by insurance claims. In many cases, your insurance company will recommend a specific roofer to work with. A roofer with insurance claim experience will have a better idea of what is covered and be better equipped to handle the needed repairs in a timely fashion when a complicated insurance claim process is involved.
However, keep in mind that in almost every state it is illegal for your roofing contractor to negotiate or handle your insurance claim. State licensed Public Adjusters or Attorneys are the only professionals allowed to adjust claims in most states.
Avoid Signing a Contingency Contract: Some roofers try to get homeowners to sign a contingency contract prior to an inspection. This contract authorizes the roofer to handle your roof repairs if the insurance claim is approved. Some less-trustworthy roofers will disguise a contingency contract as an inspection report. By signing this report, you may be agreeing to give the job to that roofing company. Watch for shady roofing companies and be careful what you sign.
Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster: Insurance companies might refuse or lower your insurance claim, forcing you to pay costly roof repairs out of pocket. In this case, you may wish to find a public adjuster to assist with your claim. Public adjusters are insurance experts who understand exactly what is and is not covered by insurance companies. They negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to ensure your roof damage claim is covered properly. Most experienced public insurance adjusters also perform their own roof inspections and know exactly how to properly handle your roof damage claim from start to finish.
What Happens If My Roof Damage Insurance Claim is Denied?
Insurance companies lose millions of dollars to insurance fraud every year. When it comes to roof damage insurance fraud, a homeowner might falsely try to claim certain damages even though the damages were unrelated to the latest storm.
Let’s say you have a 20-year old roof in poor condition. The shingles have been deteriorated by wear and tear over time. A storm hits your area. A few branches fall on your roof. It’s windy and rainy. Hail hits your roof and causes minor damage. You might try to claim that your roof was damaged during the storm, when in reality, most of the damage was there before the storm.
In the above situation the insurance company will likely deny your claim – or at least substantially reduce your payout. Remember: the goal of home insurance is to restore your property to its pre-loss condition. That doesn’t mean you get a brand new roof because a few branches fell on your old roof.
However, there are situations where an insurance company will reduce or deny your claim even if the claim is legitimate. The insurance company might claim that you’ve committed fraud, for example, when your roof really did experience significant damage in a recent storm. In this case, it may be in your best interest to hire a public adjuster or insurance attorney who specializes in roof damage insurance claims.
Final Word On Roof Damage Claims
Roof insurance claims can be tricky. Insurance companies want to limit the amount they pay for your roof – especially if you have an older roof with pre-existing damage. To ensure your roof damage gets covered appropriately, you can contact a public adjuster. A good public adjuster will manage your claim from beginning to end, negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf to ensure your roof damage insurance claim is handled properly.