Filing an insurance claim can be a overwhelming experience. Many homeowners have had policies on their homes for twenty or thirty years without making a claim, all the while watching their insurance premiums skyrocket. The reasons for this hesitation are varied. Some homeowners take pride in the fact that they have not ever filed a claim. (It is not uncommon to hear customer’s boasting that they have not filed a single, solitary claim in 35-years as a policyholder, before lamenting about how their rates have steadily climbed anyway?) Others fear their rates will go up after making a claim, or that their insurance companies will drop them altogether. Others simply don’t feel that they have the time, or the expertise to deal with an insurance claim.
One common fear is that of the unknown, and filing a claim – and the process that follows – can be scary for those who have never been through it before. There are so many moving parts to consider, but this why it is important to work with a professional storm restoration contractor. These contractors have the experience needed to make the claims process as smooth and painless as possible.
Be sure to start off on the best footing possible. This starts with having your home inspected by a trained contractor, who will be able to identify whether the home has enough damage to justify making a claim. This inspection should go beyond just the roof and include inspections of all exterior elements. This includes gutters, vents, siding, metal awnings and carports, fences, decks, etc.
If after a professional inspection the damage is substantial enough, the contractor will sit down with the homeowner and assist in making the claim. Claims representatives will often allow the contractor to provide the information needed to file the claim as long as the homeowner is present and has given their consent. Other companies may require that they only talk to the policyholder. Regardless of who gives the claim representative the information it is the very important to be ready with all information needed by the insurance representative. This includes the following:
- The phone number to the Claims Department
- The date, time, and nature of the storm that damaged the home
- The location of each damaged area of the home, and the type of damage the storm caused (i.e., wind, hail, flood, etc.)
Once the initial claim has been filed an adjuster will be assigned to confirm the damage that has been reported. It is essential that your chosen contractor be present when the insurance adjuster comes to inspect the property. When possible the contractor will work directly with the adjuster to arrange a time for the inspection. If the adjuster contacts the homeowner directly, it is important that the homeowner tell the contractor the details of the conversation. Some homeowners are more proactive, and will conference call with the adjuster and contractor so that there are no misunderstandings down the road.
Between the time the claim is made and the adjustment is performed, a contractor has plenty of work to do. He should at a minimum sketch and measure the roof, gutters, and other exterior items that were damaged. Often if the storm was severe there will be water leakage or other types of damage to the interior. When this happens measurements of these areas should be included as well. Professional storm restoration contractors will often order a satellite image that gives precise measurements of the exterior of your home. All of this information should be entered into a professional estimating software (Xactimate is the most common used by both contractors and insurance companies.) to prepare a complete scope of the work that needs to be covered by the insurance company. Bringing these documents to the initial insurance inspection does three things:
- It shows that the contractor is professional and prepared.
- It makes the job for the adjuster much easier, which makes him more apt to approve the claim.
- It gives him a orderly checklist of things he needs to include on his estimate, which will save him a great deal of time (Note: It will also save the contractor from having to request a supplement after the job is completed.).
It is an insurance adjuster’s responsibility to give a complete and thorough inspection of the policyholder’s home, and subsequently provide an honest assessment of the damages to it. The adjuster will often draw up estimates on the spot, and will explain to the customer what the insurance company is paying for. The adjuster should also walk the policyholder through the scope of the estimate, explaining the concept of overhead and profit, depreciation, the differences between Recoverable Cash Value (RCV) and Actual Cash Value (ACV) polices, etc.
Most perform these responsibilities with great professionalism and complete objectivity. While many companies are quick to help their customers, many others have trained their adjusters to deny storm-related claims (conceivably to protect the insurance company’s bottom line). Homeowners are not professional roofers, and it is unfair to put the burden of working with the adjuster to identify storm damage on your shoulders. It is for this reason that having your chosen contractor present at the inspection is essential. Your contractor is responsible for being beside the adjuster at all times to point out every piece of damage that he sees, and to be sure that the adjuster acknowledges and records the damage that is present.
After the adjustment is completed the process becomes much less complex. The insurance company will approve the cost of the repairs, and send out payment (Often in two installments). Now the contractor can schedule your repairs, and complete the project in a timely manner.