A Guide on Filing Storm Damage Claims
Filing a storm damage claim with your insurer is a lot trickier than it seems. Certain steps need to be followed to ensure the claims filing process goes smoothly. To help you navigate the initial stages of the process, Dry Tech Construction, your local insurance claims specialist, compiled this guide.
Schedule an Inspection After the Storm Has Passed
As a rule of thumb, you should have a professional contractor inspect your home after a storm. No matter how durable your roof is, it’s bound to suffer some form of damage after a storm. What if there aren’t any leaks? It takes some time for the warning signs of storm damage to emerge. And by the time they start to appear, it’s already too late to mitigate storm damage. That’s why it’s best to schedule an inspection as soon as the weather clears up.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy’s Storm Damage Coverage
Important Note: It’s important to go through the details of your insurance policy at least twice to understand the extent of your insurance coverage as well as the factors that can void your policy. (Lack of maintenance or any negligence on the homeowner’s part is one such factor). While coverage varies from insurer to insurer, standard insurance policies usually cover damage to the structure of your home—which includes your roof—its detached units your personal belongings, and living expenses while your home is being repaired. In general, insurers will only pay for about 50 to 70% of the insured amount for your property.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
The steps for filing a storm damage claim varies depending on your insurer, so it’s best to consult your insurance agent about the specific steps for filing an insurance claim.
Document Signs of Roofing Damage
While waiting for your contractor to arrive, you should document the signs of roofing damage—you’ll need to provide documentation of the storm damage later on when you file a claim with your insurer. It’s also a good idea to include photos of your home before the storm lands in your area.
Important Note: If the storm has damaged your interior or some of your furniture, look for the receipts for the damaged furniture. And if you had to stay in temporary accommodation because of extensive storm damage, don’t forget to make copies of the receipts for the hotel accommodation. Submit these documents, along with pictures of roofing damage, to your insurer when you file a claim.
Here’s a tip: We recommend keeping a roofing file that keeps track of all your roof’s maintenance records, the roofing estimates you’ve gathered, and other important paperwork. That way, you’ll be able to easily locate essential paperwork.
What to Expect During Emergency Repairs
Upon arriving, your residential roofing contractor should take the necessary steps to mitigate storm damage. This includes draping a tarp over large holes to prevent more rainwater from infiltrating your roof. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to finish all the inspections and repairs in a single day. Once they’re done with the preliminary inspections, they’ll come back over the following days to conduct more comprehensive inspections and extensive repairs.
Important Note: You should take the necessary steps to mitigate storm damage, but don’t attempt to fix any of the roof leaks, no matter how minor they may seem. Unauthorized repairs can reduce your insurance payout and in some cases even void your insurance policy.
After the inspections are done, your roofing contractor will provide you an estimate of the repair costs.
Here’s an overview of the commonly used terms:
Replacement cash value (RCV) - The RCV indicates the total amount for the insurance estimate. Keep in mind that just as the name suggests, it’s just an estimate. The final settlement will be calculated by subtracting your deductible from the contractor’s invoice.
Depreciation - The depreciation indicates the amount that won’t be released by your insurer until the roofing contractors are done with the repairs.
Actual cash value (ACV) payment - The ACV is calculated by subtracting your deductible and the depreciation from the RCV. The resulting amount will be reflected on the first insurance check you’ll receive once your claim has been approved. Usually, the ACV is just enough to get the roof repairs started.
Supplements - Should the adjuster—the person who’ll assess the extent of the storm damage and calculate the extent of your insurance payout—overlook minor storm damage, your insurer will make adjustments to your insurance payout.
Important Note: If your roof needs to be replaced, ask your roofing contractors to indicate in the estimate that basic repairs won’t be enough to fix your roof.
File a Claim With Your Insurer
Fill out the claim form provided by your insurer as soon as you gather all of the necessary paperwork. Remember: When filing a claim with your insurer, you usually don’t have the luxury of time. That’s because there are time limits for filing insurance claims. Not to mention leaks should be repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, storm damage might affect other parts of your home.
You shouldn’t worry too much about this time limit, as most insurers will give a reasonable amount of time for homeowners to file a claim. However, the time limit varies depending on your policy and the state you live in. As such, it’s best to submit all the necessary documents as soon as possible
Meet With the Insurance Adjuster
Once your insurer processes all the necessary documents, they’ll send an adjuster to your home. Some homeowners feel intimidated by adjusters, but this shouldn’t stop you from raising any concerns you may have.
Here’s a tip: We recommend having a contractor from one of your local roofing companies on-site when the adjuster arrives. That way, they’ll be able to compare notes and discuss your home’s repair needs.
Replace or Repair Your Roof
After your insurer approves your claim, your contractor can start repairing or replacing your roof.
Still looking for a contractor? Here are some vetting tips:
Check online reviews - Online reviews should give you a good idea of the level of customer services you can expect from a roofing contractor. Keep in mind that a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily a red flag. Miscommunication can happen even in the best circumstances, after all. What matters is how the roofing contractor responded to customer complaints.
Check their local references - Ask your family and neighbors if they’ve ever hired a local roofing contractor before.
Hire local - One way of speeding up the vetting process is to focus your search on roofing companies near you. Another reason why you might want to hire local contractors is their personalized service. Local contractors, after all, have a reputation to uphold in their local community, so they’re likely to add a personal touch to the service they provide. Not to mention it’s simply more practical to hire local contractors who can arrive at your home and conduct emergency repairs faster than contractors from out of town.
Avoid Storm Chasers
You should keep an eye out for storm chasers if a storm recently passed through your neighborhood. They’re out-of-state contractors who, as their name suggests, follow storms in the hopes of making a considerable profit by doing as many repairs as quickly as possible. They often knock on homeowners’ doors, offering to fix their roof. That in itself is a red flag—no professional contractor would go door to door to offer their services. Remember: Always vet a contractor before hiring them.
Need Help Filing a Storm Damage Claim?
If you’re having trouble filing an insurance claim, you can consult a roofing contractor. Some roofing contractors offer insurance claim filing assistance.
Dry Tech Construction offers a wide range of professional exterior services, including residential roofing services and insurance claims processing assistance. To get a free estimate, call us at (707) 328-5216 or fill out this form.