5 Tips For Filing An Insurance Claim After Your Roof Is Damaged By Hail
When a storm rolls through and pelts your home with chunks of ice, you're probably more worried about your windows and exposed vehicles than your roof. However, failing to take immediate action after a hail storm could make it harder for you to convince your insurance company to cover the cost of hiring a roof repair company. Follow these tips to get a claim going quickly so you can get the repair team up there as soon as possible to prevent leaks.
Check Your Policy
First, verify if your home insurance policy even covers hail damage. While most policies automatically roll this kind of damage in with general roof protection, some policies specifically single it out as an exclusion. There's no point in trying to get the company to pay for damages that they've officially excluded from your policy, and you can't add extra protection for hail damage after a storm has already passed through your area. In fact, you can't even change your policy when there's an active storm warning or watch in most states.
Document the Storm Damage
Most homeowners think that documenting hail storm damage means climbing up on the roof. However, there's plenty you can do to document the severity of the storm without climbing on a ladder. Take clear and accurate photos of
- Hail lying on the ground around your home before it gets a chance to melt, preferably with a ruler in the shot to clearly show the size of the ice chunks
- Damage to other structures or parts of the home that are easier to see from the ground, such as cracked windows or siding
- Torn leaves and broken branches in trees around the home, which help establish that high winds were also present
- Attic interiors, especially if there is a new leak that started during the storm which is still visibly wet.
If you can take photos of your roof safely, feel free to do so, but don't risk personal injury by climbing on a wet roof without the right safety equipment.
Hire an Independent Inspector
Once you've verified you can file a claim, you need to call in a roofing specialist who is experienced with repairing hail damage. Make it clear to them that you only want an inspection and that they should not do any repairs to the roof while they're up there, no matter how minor. While you can often get a free damage inspection by signing a contract that guarantees you'll hire the inspector to fix the roof, this may not be the best option because it locks you into using a specific contractor. It's better to pay out of pocket for an inspection and know you're getting a fair and honest opinion.
After gathering your own evidence and getting the opinion of a professional roof repair expert, it's time to file your claim. Include the report made by the specialist, any photos you took after the storm, and as much information about the storm as you can remember. You don't need every detail about wind direction and water volume because the insurance company will do their own research with local weather reports. Your insurance company should respond within a few days, depending on their policies. If you don't hear back within the time frame they state, follow up. Most of the time you'll have up to one year to file a roof damage claim, but getting the information in promptly is better in case the roof starts to leak.
Help Your Insurance Inspector
You'll soon have an inspector from the insurance company contacting you to schedule a visit. Don't overwhelm them with information, but do forward the best and clearest photos you took to document the damage. This will help them match up what they find on the roof with the hail that fell during the storm. Click here for info on roof hail damage.