Roofing Insurance Claims for Storm Damage
When a natural disaster damages your roof, you want to know that you can rely on your insurance company to cover your roof repair costs. However, homeowner’s insurance in Florida is complex due to hurricanes and wind/water issues unique to coastal areas. Sadly, many roofing insurance claims for storm damage go underpaid or unpaid, leaving homeowners to pick up the cost of repairing a roof.
As a homeowner in Florida, there are several steps you can take to maximize your insurance claim payout. For instance, you need to understand what your policy covers and what it does not. You also need to know hurricanes, high winds and water and how each can affect your roof. Last, you need to know a reputable roofing contractor in Florida that is ready to help you when you need roof repair or roof replacement.
Stay Prepared for Hurricane Season
Homeowners are often caught off-guard when they discover that their insurance policy does not cover the entire cost of the roof replacement or the insurer rejects their claim. While it is easy to write a claim rejection off as corporate greed or an insurance scam, part of the problem is the homeowner’s lack of preparation.
To ensure that your roof damage is covered after storm damage, you need to prepare for hurricane season in advance.
Get Adequate Insurance Coverage
Make sure your policy will cover a full roof replacement, not just roof repair. Schedule a roof appraisal with an appraiser or a roofing contractor to assess the value of the entire roofing system. Once you assess the roof’s value, you can adjust your insurance coverage to cover a full replacement. Update your insurance policy as necessary if there are any upgrades to your roof.
Understand Your Policy
Insurers often reject claims on technicalities, which are often found in the insurance policy. Therefore, failure to read the fine print or understand your policy can relieve the insurance company of any liability for restoring your roof. Know what your policy covers and does not cover and under what conditions. Read the fine print, and do not get caught off-guard.
Schedule a Roofing Inspection
One of the best ways to protect your roof and maximize your insurance coverage is to schedule a roofing inspection annually before June 1st. Establishing a business relationship with a contractor can give you leverage if you need to schedule a roof repair right away after the storm. Providing documentation of inspections and roof maintenance to an appraiser can also diminish any issues with pre-existing conditions or neglect.
Protect Your Documents
If you cannot find your insurance documents after a storm, you will have difficulty during the insurance claims process. There are dozens of ways to secure your documents. You can lock them up in a storm-proof safe, scan them and store digital copies on a cloud server or make copies and put them in a bank box. Just make sure that you have instant access to the documents after the storm. You may also want to download your insurance company’s app – which often includes your policy information – to your phone.
What to Do Immediately After Storm Damage
The first few steps you take after a storm determines the success of your roofing insurance claim. While timing is critical (you should file your claim immediately), who you contact first is just as important.
Call Your Roofing Contractor First
Before you contact your insurance company, call a roofing contractor in Florida. A contractor can arrive on-site and accurately assess the roof damage. They can also confirm that the storm caused the damage. Your contractor can meet with the insurance adjuster and help you file the insurance claim.
Get a Roof Repair Estimate
Get an estimate for repair based on the pre-storm condition of your roof, not on how you want to change things. Do not rely on the adjuster to determine the repair cost of the roof. Make sure to get a written estimate on a roofing company’s letterhead with the company’s contact information. This ensures that the estimate is fair, accurate and objective.
Let Your Roofing Contractor Take the Wheel
While it may be tempting to want to control the situation, you are better off allowing your roofing contractor to take care of as much as possible. This includes all correspondence with the adjuster, filing the claim, sending the estimate and addressing any problems during the project. Your roofing contractor can be your best advocate and deal with technical issues that require expertise.
Try to Avoid Multiple Roof Repair Estimates
If possible, try to avoid getting multiple estimates from contractors in the area. If you get multiple estimates, your insurance company will want to see all of them and only accept the lowest one. The lowest estimate may not be the best quality.
Avoid Roofing Scams
Ignore any offers from storm chasers – roofing companies that travel from state to state to get work after natural disasters. These companies offer zero accountability and often do a sub-par job. Also, be aware of price gouging. A dire situation should not put you in a position to pay higher than you should for a quality roof repair or replacement.