How to be prepared
The storm season is upon us along with all the problems it can create too. Hail storms have been troubling thousands of homeowners recently and for many leaving a lasting impression. Damage caused by hail can be a tricky one to spot as in many cases the damage is not easily seen. Hail can cause damage to underlying shingles and siding that would not be detectable without proper inspection from an expert. If you or your business was recently affected by heavy storms or hail you may be wondering how to be sure and what to do in the event you do have damage. The Public Insurance Adjusters Association and our experienced members are here to assist in any way. Below is set of steps to help determine if you have damage to your property and the next steps to take towards filing a claim.
Significant hail damage to siding of a home
shingle granules building up in gutter system indicate possible hail damage
What to do before a claim
If you are unsure whether or not you have hail damage to your roof, siding, or other hard to spot areas, starts by inspecting other items around your home or business. If you spot damages to other objects such as cars, fences, gutters, shutters, or exteriors then odds are your home or business has suffered damage too. Another strong indication that you may have sustained damage is if you spot a significant amount of shingle and roofing granules in your gutter systems, which are usually a result of repeated impacts to your roof. Chances are that if you have noticed any of the above mentioned signs that you have been a victim of hail and storm damage. The next steps discussed will help make sure you are prepared in the event you wish to file an insurance claim and how to do so.
Step 1: Save the date
important to make note of the date the hail has occurred and have a record of
this for your insurance company and Adjuster. Gathering all the initial information
can be crucial to submitting a claim in a timely manner and ensuring you are
covered for all damaged incurred. Pictures speak a thousand words and are a
great addition to include in any claim. If you were unable to take any pictures
yourself during the storm, don’t worry; perform a search online for “hail storm”
in your area. You should find tons of pictures showing the size and damages of the
hail. Save this information and pictures to show your agent as it will be a
crucial first step towards your insurance claim.
Step 2: Get an expert’s opinion
If you believe
that you have experienced hail damage to your business or home, get several experts’
qualified opinion. Browse PIAA’s online member directory or your local listings
for hail and storm damage specialists to come inspect the suspected damages.
Inform the company that you may have had recent storm and hail damage and they
will be more than willing to come take a look, often at no cost. Make sure to
do some research before choosing any ‘specialist’ as you want an honest and thorough
inspection of damages. If you have troubles locating an expert, contact us and
we will gladly arrange for one of our skilled members in your area to contact
Step 3: Meeting with the experts
Once you have scheduled your first inspection and they arrive it is a great idea to get to know them and ask about the services they provide. Most experts will go by a set of standards to determine if you have damage, but not all companies use the same procedures, so it is wise to inform yourself on the specific process. All this information can be crucial to filing a successful claim. Typically an inspection of your business or home will last only 20 – 30 minutes where they assess possible damages. Get the experts recommendation and advice based on the assessment. Before concluding the inspection gather contact information from the experts and ask them to be present during the inspection from the insurance companies adjuster. Keep in mind the insurance company sends this adjuster that works on their behalf with a goal of denying or diminishing the claim’s value and having an expert on your side can be greatly beneficial.
expert performing initial inspection of a homeowners roof
Step 4: File the claim
If you suspect there is hail and storm damage and the experts recommended you call in the claim, now is the time to do so. Simply call your insurance company and inform them you want to file a claim for the damages. Next the insurance company will request the necessary information and data to start the process. You should have gathered the needed information through steps 1 – 3 on your own and with the experts. The insurance company most likely will also inquire to any interior damages as well. It may not be required, but it may be a good idea to tell them you already had several experts come inspect your business or home and they recommended that you file a claim. One more important item to note is that in the majority of the states you have up to one year to file an insurance claim for damages, however I would highly advise against waiting to start the claim just make sure you have the date or dates, the storms occurred. Also, do not worry about other factors such as the age of the roof because the insurance company will look at the damages and settle your claim regardless of age. The last thing they want is you to file a larger claim in the event your roof caves in or severely leaks.
Step 5: Meeting the insurance adjuster
insurance adjuster inspecting roof suspected of damages
time the insurance adjuster comes, you will hopefully have taken care of all
the base steps and there will not be much for you to do. Also it will be
greatly beneficial if you had an expert or contractor that agreed to be there
during the insurance adjustment. The adjustment will take roughly a half hour
for the insurance adjusters to assess damages and take pictures. Once they have
completed, they will explain the next steps you have to take with your
insurance company. Some companies have been known to give you a settlement
quote there on the spot, but more likely this takes up to a couple of weeks.
After the initial adjustment is done the contractor and adjuster will compare
notes to make sure they have similar measurements and will discuss the
findings. In the event the insurance adjuster denies there was any damage ask
your contractor you had come, to debate their findings. Even if you didn’t have
an expert there with you during the insurance adjustment most insurance companies
will send their adjuster back to discuss with the contractor.
Step 6: After the insurance adjustment
point you will have hopefully received a strong indication about a settlement
from the insurance company. The next task you need to complete is getting
written notes and quotes from the contractors you have been working in collaboration
with. Start narrowing down your choices and decide which contracting company
you want to use to finish the claim. Many companies will be offering discounts
and savings, so take into account their reputation and your personal interests.
Also it wouldn’t hurt to ask them about discounts or upgraded services if you
bring them more business, whether it is friends, family or someone you spoke to
recently. Chances are that if you had damage, so did someone you know and they
will offer incentives for driving business to their company.
Step 7: Getting the job done
Now hopefully the insurance company approves your claim, and you will more than likely receive enough compensation, less the deductible, to fulfill the repairs needed. Don’t worry if you insurance company depreciates any of the sums they send you because of factors such as roof age. They are simply holding back some of the settlement until the work is verified complete. All you have to do is send them a letter of completion from the contractor you choose and they will release the remaining amounts. Then, that’s everything; a new roof and or siding for little or no cost to you!