Filing an Insurance Claim For Storm Damage
Filing an Insurance Claim for Storm Damage
If your home has been damaged by the recent hail storms, exposure to the elements may greatly increase the amount of damage to you home. Many insurance policies limit your time to file a claim, so don’t wait until you have water dripping through the ceiling, mold in the attic, or your roof caves in to call your insurance company. It might be too late to file a valid storm damage claim.
Be wary of insurance company “approved” contractors who have a financial incentive to save the insurance company money at your expense. Protect yourself by hiring a reputable contractor to represent your best interests. You have paid your homeowners insurance, so make sure you get the maximum value for your claim.
Insurance Claim Tips
- Don’t Delay! Most insurance policies limit your time to file a claim
- You can’t be singled out for a rate increase due to storm damage
- Insurance restoration contractors advocate for you
- Always hire the best contractor, not the cheapest
- Beware of insurance company “approved” contractors
- Always do your homework and understand your rights
Insurance Claims Process
Filing a storm damage insurance claim can be a frustrating and confusing process. You should remember that your insurance company is in business to make money and may try to deny your claim. So we’ve created a 7 Step Guide to make the claims process easy to understand.
Step 1: Assess the storm damage. Record the date of the storm, signs of damage you can see from the ground, and take pictures of any damage. Search online for news stories of the storm hitting your area, so you have proof if it is ever required.
Step 2: Find a reputable roofing contractor who specializes in storm damage insurance claims. Do not compare companies by their bids, don’t even ask for a bid. You do not want to go with the lowest bidder, you want to go with the roofing company that can put on the best quality roof with the amount the insurance company quotes. Make sure your contractor performs a full property inspection, including the roof, windows, siding, AC units, screens, concrete and all other exterior surfaces.
Step 3: Read your insurance policy carefully and contact the claims department of your insurance company directly. Be prepared to provide pictures, and the estimate from the contractor you have chosen to work with.
Step 4: Request an insurance adjuster inspection. Insist your contractor is present during the adjuster inspection. Your contractor’s job is to make sure the adjuster plays fair, and provides you with a fair assessment. Remember, the insurance adjuster works for, and is paid, by the insurance company, and may have an incentive to deny your claim, if they think they can. This is why it is important to have a roofing contractor that specializes in storm damage insurance claims. There are thousands of good roofing companies out there that have no clue how to work the insurance claim.
Step 5: If your claim is denied, don’t worry. You are entitled to meet with three insurance adjusters. Remember, even a small amount of damage should result in an approved claim. Any type of damage can devalue your home and damage should be fixed immediately before it leads to greater damage down the road.
Step 6: Once your claim is approved your insurance company will send you 2 separate payments. The first payment, or materials deposit, covers the cost of materials. Make sure your contractor orders materials in your name, and uses your check to pay for your materials.
Step 7: After your materials are delivered, your contractor will get to work. Any changes to the written bid should be submitted in writing for your approval. No additional payment is due until all the repairs are complete. Once your project has passed a city inspection, you will have a chance to approve the job before making final payment. Make sure the job is done to your satisfaction and your contractor signs a lien waiver, before handing over the second payment.
When filing an insurance claim, remember most state laws prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies for filing claims in an Act of God storm damage situation. In most states insurance company cannot single you out for a rate increase. If the insurance company is going to raise rates, they have to raise everyone’s rates in your area. So, if you don’t file a claim, your personal rate increase will pay for everyone else’s claim except for yours.
Claim Denials: What to do if your insurance company says “no”
It has become more common in recent years for insurance companies to deny storm damage claims that should be approved, hoping homeowners won’t file again. Research shows that of all storm damage related insurance claims that are denied, only 5% re-file. Of claims that are filed again, an estimated 50% are approved the second or third time around. So, if you live in an area that has been hit by a severe storm, and think you have property damage, don’t take no for an answer from an insurance adjuster.
The American Justice Association publishes an annual list of the 10 worst insurance companies for claim denials. Their list includes companies such as Allstate, State Farm, and Farmers. If your claim is denied, get help from a reputable contractor with experience getting claims approved.
Remember, no matter how much you like your insurance agent personally, agents and adjusters work for the insurance company and may have a financial incentive to deny your claim. Your insurance company is in business to make money, not pay out claims. You should be absolutely certain your home has not been damaged before you stop pursuing the insurance claims process.