How to File a Roof Insurance Claim - Start to Finish
House hit by a storm?
Considering an insurance claim?
On the news we see neighborhoods struck by devastating storms all the time. But what do you do when it’s your home that has been damaged by wind, hail, or a combination of both? Well, that’s when it’s time to explore roof replacement through insurance.
Step 1 - Decide: "Do I Have a Legitimate Roof Insurance Claim?"
When baseball size hail pummels your house the damage is pretty easy to spot. However, when nickel or quarter sized hail falls it can cause damage that it might take a trained eye to see. Before calling your insurance company to file a claim you should get a professional opinion as to whether a claim is likely to be approved.
Reach out to a few good roofing companies to schedule roof inspections, each takes about 20-30 minutes. Make sure the roofing contractors are:
- Easy to work with
Communication prior to you’re inspection appointment, on-time arrival, and professionalism during their interactions with you are all indicators of a good roofing consultant.
Be Aware of Pushy Roofing Companies
For roofing companies, insurance claims are the best contracts. That is because the price that the insurance company will pay for a roof replacement is typically higher than the retail price for a new roof. And, if a claim is denied there is no consequence for the roofing company only for the homeowner who now has a claim against their policy. File too many claims and the insurance company might cancel your policy.
Sadly, there are roofing companies out there who will push you to file a homeowners claim even if your odds of an approval are low. For that reason, it is important to see photos of the damage yourself and make the roofing company’s inspector explain exactly what they found and why insurance should approve your claim.
Once you feel assured that sufficient damage is present for an insurance claim to be approved, it’s time to choose your roofing company.
Step 2 - Selecting A Roofing Contractor
Choosing your roofing restoration company usually comes down to two factors: trusting their commitment & quality of work, and negotiating your deductible. Here’s how to approach both:
Quality Roof Replacement
The first place to start when verifying the quality of a roofing company’s work is by reading online reviews. The company’s Google listing contains reviews, as does their Yelp and BBB listing. Weed out the companies with less than a 4-star average in their reviews.
Remember some people complain just to complain, so if you see one or two bad reviews among countless good ones don’t be afraid to ask the company about those outlier situations and how they were resolved.
You can also ask the roofing company to provide some local addresses where they’ve done work. That way you can drive by the properties and see for yourself how they look. And, some people will ask for references. Of course, the company will only give you good ones so take them for what you will.
Negotiating Your Home Insurance Roof Deductible
Legally speaking, a contractor is supposed to collect your insurance deductible as part of the payment for your home restoration project. Waiving the deductible is a form of insurance fraud. However, the roofing industry has found a number of creative ways to “off-set” that deductible amount in part or in full depending on the deductible amount. A few are:
- “Paying” you a marketing fee for allowing a sign in your yard
- “Rewarding” you for referrals that you provide
- Providing “free” upgrades on materials or “free” additional services
Ask the roofing salesperson how they can help you with your deductible. And if they tell you they’ll just waive it, make sure they have a “program” that will protect the both of you from wrong doing.
Step 3 - Get Help Filing Your Roof Insurance Claim
It is always best to have your roofing consultant with you when filing your homeowners insurance claim. Most claims are filed by phone and the agent on the other end will have a list of questions that seem to be fact finding, but are also engineered to minimize insurance claims. Wrong answers could put you in a more costly situation.
For example: You will be asked what caused the damage to your roof. If you reply by saying hail stones, then the claim will be for hail damage and any wind damage will not be covered in that claim. If wind damage is found then you’ll have to file a separate claim (and pay another deductible) to receive coverage. But, had you initially said wind and hail then both would have been covered by the one claim. Tricky, right?
That’s just one example of how your roof restoration company can be a great resource for you in navigating the insurance claim process.
Step 4 - What Happens After Your Roof Insurance Claim Is Filed?
Once your storm damage claim has been filed the insurance company will want to verify the damage before approving or denying payment to you. Expect two things: an insurance adjuster appointment, and a claim summary.
Roof Insurance Claim Adjuster Appointment
Typically, an insurance adjuster will reach out to you to schedule a time to physically inspect the property. It is very important that your roofing company have a representative at that adjuster appointment. So make sure that you communicate the day and time of the adjuster appointment with your roofing company. This is vital for your claim’s approval.
Sometimes the insurance adjuster is a direct employee of the insurance company and other times they are from a 3rd party adjuster firm. The 3rd party adjusters simply document their findings and send them with a recommendation to someone behind a desk at the insurance company. However, if your adjuster is a direct employee of your insurer then they will likely be the person handling your claim from start to finish.
All insurance adjusters are human and can make mistakes or miss things. They can also be influenced. Your roofing company representative should be skilled at making sure nothing is missed while also swaying the adjuster’s view on any damage that may be marginal.
Roof Insurance Claim Summary
You will receive approval or denial of your insurance claim in writing from the insurance company. If your claim is rejected you will receive a denial letter. This happens all the time, so don’t freak out.
Your roofing company can help you to request a second opinion. The company will have to do the extra work of providing photographic proof of damage in order for the insurance company to agree to schedule a second appointment. And your roofer should attend that second adjuster inspection, too. That’s why choosing a good roofing company to stand beside you is so important.
If your claim is approved then you will receive what is called the insurance claim summary, or the summary for short. This is a full breakdown of what insurance is going to cover. Again, insurance companies want to minimize payouts so they might try to approve only repairs or partial replacement when full replacement is justified.
Give a copy of the insurance claim summary to your roofing company so they can confirm that you are getting everything that you deserve. In the end, they will need it in order to properly bill the insurance company for the restoration work.
Step 5 - Paying Your Roofing Contractor for Storm Damage Restoration
Homeowner insurance claims are commonly paid in two installments, cash value and depreciation. Upon approval of your insurance claim you will receive a check from the insurance company for the cash value of whatever was damaged. When it is confirmed that repairs are complete you will receive a check for the depreciation.
What is the cash value portion? Say your roof has a life expectancy of 20 years and it is 10 years old when you file your claim. The cash value today is about 50% of what it will cost to replace it. If you choose not to repair the damage then this is the only payment that you will receive from insurance. And, if you don’t do repairs then you can never claim damage to that part of your home ever again.
What is the depreciation portion? Most homeowners policies cover the full replacement of damaged property (less your deductible). But they only pay for full replacement if you actually do the repairs. Once they have confirmation that repairs are complete, then they release the check for the depreciation amount.
The easiest way to pay your roof restoration company is to simply sign over the checks that you receive from the insurance company. If you do that, and you’ve negotiated a nice “deductible rewards program”, then you could be paid in full without ever touching your checking account.
Step 6 - Restoration and Construction of Your Roof
The physical process for repairing or replacing your roof is no different whether it is paid for out of pocket or by insurance. Whether retail or through insurance you can expect:
- Pre-construction Days
- Assignment of a project manager
- Ordering and delivery of materials
- Scheduling of the construction crew
- Self-preparation of your property
- You should move or cover belongings, moving vehicles so they remain accessible
- Construction Days
- Early morning start
- Construction workers and equipment on property
- A lot of noise throughout the day
- Tear off of the old materials
- Installation of new materials
- Clean up
For details of these bullet points, please visit our previous post “The Roof Replacement Process – Retail”. But come back here, because there’s one more step to know about in roof replacement through insurance.
Step 7 - After The Roof Restoration Work is Complete
After construction is complete there is still some very important paperwork that needs to be processed in order to finalize everything. You will need to pass along any supplement payments, sign the Certificate of Satisfaction, make final payment and collect your warranty documents.
Filing Supplements to the Insurance Claim
A supplement is a “change order” that requests reimbursement for additional costs your contractor may encounter during construction. These are very common and could be the result of insurance adjuster oversights, or hidden elements that just can’t be seen until the old roof has been removed.
Supplement payments will be sent to you, the homeowner, but ultimately they will be due to the roofing company. On occasion supplements are filed by the roofing company and they forget to make you aware. When that happens, you might get a seemingly random check from the insurance company. It’s not charity. You will need to endorse the check to your roofing company for the additional materials or services they provided.
Signing The Certificate of Satisfaction
Once all work is complete your roofing contractor will request that you sign a Certificate of Completion (COS). Signing the COS does not mean the roofing company is no longer responsible for the work the did, it just confirms that the work was done. You should keep a copy for yourself, too.
Your roofing company will send the signed COS as well as the final invoice for the project to your insurance company. Not until both the COS and final invoice are received will the insurance company release the depreciation payment.
Make The Final Payment
The depreciation check represents the final payment to your roofing company. When you receive the insurance draft, just like the other insurance checks, you will want to endorse it to your roofing company. When the check clears, they will provide you with your warranty documents. Hold on to those documents because they will be necessary if you experience any workmanship issues or manufacturer defects in the materials that were used in your project.
Congratulations, you have a new roof. Now tell all your friends and neighbors what a great job we did, and take advantage of our “Refer a Friend” program.
At Legacy Exteriors our mission is simple — we strive to provide only the best quality roofing, siding, rain gutter and home insulation services to Middle Tennessee. Call us today for a Free Estimate!