|If your home was in the path of severe weather, it is important to have a full understanding of the insurance process and the steps involved in a storm restoration project. Investing a small amount of time to learn this information now may be the difference between a professional repair, or an amateur nightmare.|
It is important to fully understand the Insurance Process:
Before a storm you should read your policy and then talk to your agent about what your policy covers. You have already selected your insurance company but there are many differences in home insurance policies, the types of coverage, and the ways that your insurance claims are handled by your insurance company. In response to increased weather activity, many insurance carriers have instituted sweeping changes that have severely limited the coverage of homeowner's policies. Many property owners are unaware that they are not properly covered until it is too late. That is why it is highly recommended to talk with your agent regularly. Some of the topics you should discuss with you agent are:
>Replacement Cost Value (RCV) vs. Actual Cash Value (ACV) Policies
After you file a storm damage claim, there are two methods your insurance company may use when compensating you to bring your home/property to a ” pre-loss condition”; one is a Replacement Cost Value (RCV) policy and the other is an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy: the difference being whether or not depreciation will be paid for you. Almost everything loses value over time. While your home/property generally will appreciate, the building components used to construct the building are deteriorating from age and thus lose value or depreciate. Both RCV and ACV policies will receive an initial payment called an ACV Check based on the depreciated value of the items damaged by the storm. If you have an ACV policy, you are responsible for paying the difference between the depreciated amounts paid by your insurance company and the actual replacement cost to repair your home/property to “pre-loss condition”. With an RCV policy, your insurance company will pay the depreciation for you once the repairs have been completed an RCV policy typically has a higher premium due to the additional paid benefits. Regardless of which policy you have, you are required to pay your deductible out of pocket.
>Code Upgrade Coverage
Your policy may or may not include a clause to bring your property up to current building code requirements. The municipality in which you reside establishes building code requirements. If your policy includes this coverage, your insurance company will be responsible for the additional cost incurred to meet code requirements. If your policy does not include this coverage, you will be responsible to pay the additional expense out of pocket.
It is important to know that the IRC (International Residential Code) outlines only the minimum acceptable building practice. When something is built to "code" there are many instances when a contractor will take shortcuts in order to make the job go quicker, or to be more profitable, and this almost without fail means not doing work up to code. You as a property owner may never know that your current structure needs these vital upgrades. If you choose a contractor who is more concerned with the bottom line than with the integrity of your project, you may never know. Codes are changing on a regular basis. It is imperative that you talk with you agent about this coverage or you may be faced with the choice between having your project completed by a professional storm restoration contractor or by a sub-standard roofer.
Finding out if you have damage
After the storm has passed, it is important to take a thorough and accurate assessment of your property. Finding a Storm Restoration Professional that you are comfortable with is the first step in the process. Once you have chosen a company to help you assess the damage and make the needed repairs, the process usually entails the following steps:
- A representative completes a through inspection of the property.
- The representative makes a recommendation on whether to file a claim based on the damage assessment.
- If necessary, the representative can assist you in filing the insurance claim.
- The representative is on site to assist the insurance company's adjuster to recognize the full extent of the storm damage.
- The representative works to ensure that adequate funds are available to make the necessary repairs.
- Once a scope of repairs is agreed upon, construction can begin.
No matter what anyone tells you, you as a property owner have the right to choose any roofing contractor with whom you feel comfortable with. As a homeowner it is very important to feel comfortable with your contractor, after all they are going to be restoring your home. Many homeowners have been given the impression that they must choose from a “recommended list” or from a “preferred contractor pool”, and many times these same homeowners come to regret their decision not to exercise their right to use a contractor of their choice.