Maximizing Your Claim
In order to maximize your claim, you must identify all damages incurred in the storm. Many times damage is not visible to the untrained eye and requires a professional. The home is one of the most valuable and expensive assets most people have.
When maintaining, repairing, selling or buying a home, the roof is a very important component of the decision making process. Depending on your roof size and type, the replacement cost can range from as little as $3k to over $50k. There are several roofing methods and materials used by contractors that will have the same visible final appearance but the true quality can vary greatly.
The Insurance Adjuster
Your insurance company will want to evaluate the damage to your home. They will have an adjuster view the damage and make an offer. The adjuster may be a 3rd party contracted to represent them because of the volume of damage in the storm area. Regardless of how the adjuster may be compensated, their objective is to repair your home for as little as possible.
The Damage Inspection
When inspecting a roof, your contractor should be present with the insurance adjuster to properly assess the damage in the following order:
Missing Granules: Missing granules are typically the first thing that an insurance adjuster will look for when inspecting a roof. Reason being, these areas are usually the easiest to spot. When a hailstone (or whatever) strikes a shingle it can either knock loose the small granules that give a roof its color or push them into the shingle itself. Either way, this exposes the black substrate layer below the granules and will show up as a dark circle or scuff.
Bruising: When more closely examining the missing granule spots described above, an insurance adjuster will then check for bruising. Does the spot in question feel soft and spongy? Much like a tomato will bruise when bumped or struck, asphalt shingles will do the same. If the missing granule spot feels bruised, it is further indication that it was the result of hail.
Mat Breakage: When struck hard enough, the fiberglass matting that an asphalt shingle is built around will break and create cracks clear through the shingle making it open to water intrusion. If the “spots” in question are missing granules, show bruising, and have a broken fiberglass mat, chances are good that it will be considered hail.
Damage Pattern: If the above three criteria are met, and a random pattern of similar damage emerges throughout the roof surface, an adjuster will most likely determine that it is due to hail damage and recommend full replacement to the insurance company.
Collateral Hail Damage
One major wild card that can weigh into an adjuster determining whether or not a roof has been damaged due to hail, is collateral damage. Collateral damage is indication of hail hits to other areas of the house including dents to fascia, gutters, vents, valleys, windows, siding, etc.
Taking collateral hail damage into consideration is a “big picture” approach that many fair adjusters will take when not all of the primary factors may be present. If obvious sizeable damage has been inflicted to other areas around the home, but the shingle mat isn’t completely broken, the existence and extent of any collateral damage can sway the approval or denial of the roof insurance claim either way.
How much is Your Damage Claim Really Worth?
Few homeowners know what actual damage has occurred and even fewer know the cost to return your home to its original condition. It is in the best interest of the homeowner to have a professional contractor meet with the adjuster to identify and mitigate all of the damage. The insurance company is going to establish a baseline of what the damage is worth, based upon local prices of labor & materials. It is very important that the contractor utilize accepted valuation tools, estimation technology and accepted market pricing.
There are tools that aid in measurement like aerial CAD reports. These reports provide a more complete and accurate estimate. Also, line item cost estimating help assure that the insurance company, adjuster and contractor are together on both estimate and scope of work. Your insurance company will assure that the project is done for market price.
The deductible amount is established by your insurance company and will be provided in your homeowner’s policy. Commonly, the deductible will range from $250-$1,000 per claim event. This amount will be deducted from your insurance settlement, normally in your 1st check.
Processing the Claim
This can be as important, as any part of the process. This is where the estimate and scope of work will be addressed and modified to assure full replacement of your roof or damage repair. This usually can be completed in 7-14 days. The 1st check from the insurance company will be sent out shortly thereafter. The contractor you choose should have the capability to help you get your claim processed, at the right amount and in an expeditious manner. The contractor will schedule your project and begin when you have your payment available.
Qualifying for the Final Check / Depreciation
This amount equates to 30-40% of the claim amount and is paid out by the insurance company when completion of the project is verified. The contractor will provide you with a job completion form that will be sent to the insurance company for final payment of the depreciation or final check.