Thankfully, most of us don’t often have to deal with filing a homeowner’s insurance claim due to storm damage.
However, the consequence of this is that when the need arises, the learning curve can be steep. With years of experience, we’ve helped countless homeowners with such claims and we’ve seen firsthand the consequences of failing to act appropriately after a hail storm. Because life’s too short to make all of the mistakes yourself, allow us to share the dos and don’ts of homeowners hail insurance claims.
Do contact both your insurance company and a reputable contractor as soon as possible after the damage occurs. This holds true especially if a large geographical area was affected as most contractors and insurance companies operate on a first come, first serve basis. In the Midwest, where winter affects the ability to safely install a roof, this can mean the difference between getting your roof installed in the fall or the following spring.
Do arrange a time for you, your spouse, a reputable contractor and the insurance adjuster to meet to discuss the claim. In cases where large geographical areas are affected,some insurance companies bring in adjusters from out of state. It’s a lot easier for a contractor to voice any concerns with the adjuster’s findings face to face than it is to do so via phone after they’ve returned to their home office in another part of the country.
Do keep a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy and carefully consider the coverage you need before purchasing. Should you need to file a claim, have the policy handy so that you understand what you are entitled to in terms of compensation.
Do know that the manufacturer’s warranty on items such as gutters, roofing and sidingare typically voided if you experience hail damage and do not have the affected portions of your home repaired or replaced.
Do not sign with the first company that comes knocking at your door offering to assist you. Once massive damage occurs, storm chasing contractors from all over the country set their GPS systems for the affected area and start going door to door trying to sign as much business as quickly as they can by promising potential customers the world. Oftentimes, they disappear before work has been finalized or perform sub par work that may not be evident until a couple years down the road when you have no way of contacting them again…if they are even still in business.
Do not accept the insurance adjuster’s initial offer if it does not fully encompass the scope of work that a contractor informed you needs to be performed or properly compensates for premium improvements you have made to your home. If the insurance adjuster’s amounts do not correlate with the improvements that need to be made, you have the right to hire an independent adjuster and submit their findings to your insurance company and ask for a new payout amount. If these efforts do not produce results, you have the option to hire an attorney or contact your state’s insurance commissioner’s office to file a dispute with them.
Do not feel forced to use a contractor referred to you by the insurance company. Oftentimes, their motivation is to complete the work as cheaply as possible, slightly the homeowner through sub par materials and shortcuts. Hiring your own contractor means that their incentive is to satisfy you over your insurance company.