Roof damage from a storm or other disaster like a fallen tree on your roof can be one of the most stressful times for building owners. Not only do you need to make sure your building is safe for occupants, but you also must navigate a complicated insurance claim process that involves adjusters, contractors and your insurance company.

Your property insurance may cover certain types of roof damage, but you can’t always count on a check from your insurance company. Following are some tips for how to file a claim and what to expect.

In this article, you will find the following:

I. Defining insurance claims
II. Reasons why insurance claims are denied
III. Four steps to file insurance claims

I. What is an insurance claim?

An insurance claim is a formal request by a policyholder to an insurance company for compensation for a covered loss or policy event, according to Investopedia, a company that works to simplify complex financial information. Your insurance company then validates or denies the claim. If the claim is approved, the insurance company will issue payment to you or an approved party on behalf of you.

In most states, there are two types of coverage: replacement or repair coverage. Replacement provides coverage to return your roof to a brand-new condition. Repair coverage usually takes into consideration depreciation of your roof. This means you will get a percentage of the replacement cost based on your roof’s age—sometimes as low as 15% if your roof is near the end of its life cycle.

A paid insurance claim serves to indemnify (compensate) a policyholder against financial loss. In an insurance arrangement, one party agrees to pay for potential losses or damages caused. For property insurance policies, the number of insurance claims you file has a direct impact on your coverage rates. The more claims you file, the greater likelihood of a rate hike. And in some cases, filing too many claims may lead to denied coverage.

II. Common reasons for denying a roofing insurance claim

Roof damage can be one of the most expensive losses for a building owner, especially if the entire roof system needs to be replaced. Insurance companies are particular about the claims they will accept for roof damage. But when an insurance company denies your roof claim, it’s not always the insurance adjuster’s fault. Following are some common reasons why your roof claim may be denied:

  • Maintenanceissues: Failure to perform routine maintenance on your roof shows your claims adjuster that you had the power to prevent roof damage but didn’t do so. Proper maintenance includes keeping your roof free of leaves and debris, trimming tree branches that hang over the roof, getting a professional inspection biannually and scheduling professional preventive maintenance.
  • Warranties: If your roof is newer, it may still be under warranty and your insurance company will deny coverage. Taking advantage of an existing warranty is better than filing a claim because you won’t have to pay the insurance deductible.
  • Excludedlosses: Some events that damage a roof may not be covered under your insurance policy. Some insurance companies exclude damage caused by extreme weather events such as earthquakes, hailstorms and volcanoes as well as other conditions such as water damage and mold. Read your policy in full to know what is covered before filing a claim.
  • Roofage: Often, the age of your roof is a factor when determining whether you have coverage. Some insurance company policies state a roof that is older than a specified number of years is not covered.
  • Poorworkmanship: One reason for having your roof insurance claim denied is because of poor workmanship when your roof originally was installed. Always pre-screen your roofing contractor to make sure the company and its workers are qualified to install your roof.
  • Aesthetics: When hailstones damage asphalt shingles, the granule surfacing gets displaced and the asphalt and/or reinforcing mat may become exposed to the elements, affecting the roof system’s service life. But this is not the case with metal roofs. Dents in a metal shingle or panel will not affect service life and, therefore, are considered aesthetic issues. Most insurance policies do not cover aesthetic issues.

III. How to file a roofing insurance claim: four simple steps

Before you file a claim, make sure it’s a covered expense reflected in your insurance policy. Then, consider whether filing a claim is worth it. For example, if your deductible is $2,000 and your roof repair is going to cost $1,600, your claim isn’t worth it and may stay on your insurance record for three years. Even if the repair is $2,500, it may not be worth it. The more insurance claims you have on your record, the more insurance companies consider you a risk.

In addition, to support your insurance claim, be sure you have documentation to show:

  • Your roof was installed by a reputable roofing contractor.
  • You have performed routine maintenance and repairs.
  • Your roof is not under warranty.
  • Your roof’s age is within coverage limits.

 When you’re ready to file a claim, follow these three steps:

1. Document early and often.

If your roof is damaged from extreme weather or another significant event, document the damage as soon as possible. Take detailed photos and videos of your roof’s condition at multiple angles and include time and date stamps. It is good practice to document your roof before damage occurs to your roof. The more documentation you can obtain, the more evidence you will have to support your claim and the faster your claim will be processed. Some instances to take photos of your roof include:

  • New property: When you purchase new property, take pictures and videos to document what your roof looked like when you acquired it. This will be used for a comparison to what your roof looks like now.
  • Maintenance: Take photos of your roof undergoing maintenance and significant renovations.
  • Regular intervals: You also want to take pictures of what your roof looks like at regular intervals to document how your roof changes over time.

2. Identify the right roofing contractor. 

Working with an established, reputable roofing contractor is an essential component in the insurance claim process. Watch out for storm chasers who go door-to-door in the aftermath of storms and tell building owners they have roof damage. Storm chasers often offer too-low prices and are notorious for not completing jobs, leaving you with an exposed roof vulnerable to more storm damage. Low prices are nice, but something that sounds too good to be true should raise a red flag.

Working with an experienced roofing contracting company is especially valuable because they will know where to look for potential damage. They will also be aware of any weak spots in your roof, in addition to helping you thoroughly document your roof damage and assist you with determining potential cost of repairs or replacement. Your roofing contractor also will document the undamaged part of your roof to show the roof system was correctly installed and is not defective—so the issue isn’t with installation or materials. 

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.

3. Find the right professionals to do background checks.

Check with your state’s consumer protection agency (www.usa.gov/state-consumer) to make sure the company you work with is licensed and insured. Check to see whether the contractor is a member of any local, state, regional or national roofing associations, such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (www.nrca.net). Ask about worker credentials and whether your roofing contractor is ProCertified® to install the roof system you want. For more tips on prequalifying a professional roofing contractor, visit everybodyneedsaroof.com

Also, iff you’ve experienced extensive damage to your property’s roof system, consider contacting a public adjuster before contacting your insurance company. A public adjuster is an independent insurance professional who will help you settle the value of your claim. When you submit your insurance claim, your insurance company will send out its own adjuster who will inspect the damage and decide the amount the insurance company will provide for roof repairs. This is why it’s good to contact a public adjuster first. You will be prepared for the insurance adjuster’s inspection based on the public adjuster’s inspection.

4. File your insurance claim promptly.

Most states require claims to be submitted within 30 to 60 days of the storm or event that caused the roof damage. Failure to make a timely claim is a reason for a claim denial. When there is a high volume of claims, the earlier you file the paperwork, the sooner your claim will be processed. Your insurance company will send an adjuster to your property to inspect the roof, assess the damage and determine what is and is not covered. 

If your roofing contractor provided an estimate that is significantly greater than your potential insurance payout, the insurance adjuster likely missed something in the scope of work. You’ll need to work with your public adjuster to have the insurance estimate revised. What if your insurance company denies your claim altogether? You can appeal with the help of a public adjuster who will advocate on your behalf. 

The bottom line (and beyond).

A roof insurance claim can be one of the most expensive claims you’ll make on your building. And dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming. But if you conduct routine roof maintenance, document the condition of your roof early and often, and find a professional roofing contractor to partner with, the claims process doesn’t have to feel like a nightmare. When you find a roofing professional you can trust, you’ll get the help you need when you need it.

To schedule a roof check-up to document the condition of your roof system and make critical repairs before a storm or unforeseen event occurs, contact xxx-xxx-xxxx.

One step ahead: prepare for future claims.

Too often, the process of filing a roof insurance claim is a “wake-up call” for many property owners and a lesson learned too late. To prepare for a future roof insurance claim, we suggest the following:

Have your roof inspected regularly. 

Maintain it and make repairs regularly. Ask your roof inspector to document the condition of your roof with photos and include a written evaluation of your roof’s condition. If you can show your roof was in great condition before a storm, you have a strong case for a claim.

When you know a major storm is coming, document the condition of your roof before and after the storm. 

If a significant weather event, such a windstorm, is forecast, ask your roofing contractor to inspect and document your roof’s condition. If there isn’t time to have a roofing contractor do an inspection, take pictures yourself, if possible. The best evidence for roof insurance claims is before and after photos. 

Following these tips now will help you obtain a fair insurance claim settlement in the future.

Tupac De La Cruz

COO , Roofing Solutions

Tupac has over 17 years of experience in the roofing industry. He sits on the executive board of the National Roofing Contractors Association.

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