If you’ve experienced roof damage, it’s important to get it repaired right away. Even a little damage can lead to big problems if left unchecked.
But how do you file a roof claim? Are there any pitfalls you need to avoid? What can you do to increase your chances of having your claim approved? How quickly do you need to make your claim?
Most homeowners are not insurance experts and may not know the answers to these questions. And if your roof damage occurred after a storm, there may be a lot of other priorities that need to be addressed.
Knowing when and how to file your roof claim can save you time and money.
How to File a Roof Claim?
1. Review Your Policy
Knowing how to file a roof claim, and when to file a roof claim is not as easy as spotting damage on your roof. Sometimes it actually makes sense not to file a claim.
For example, if you have a $2000 deductible and the damage is only an $2100 loss, you’re better off not filing.
Because each time you file a claim it goes on your record. What’s worse, it stays on your record for up to 7 years!
After you pay the $2,000 deductible, the insurance company only has to pay the $100 that exceeds the deductible. But as insignificant as that sounds, it will still go on your record as a claim.
Plus, some damage may not be considered “covered perils.” This means it isn’t going to be covered anyway — but it will still count as a claim if filed.
Another important factor to verify is whether or not you have Replacement Cost Value coverage (RCV) vs Actual Cash Value coverage (ACV).
RCV will cover the current cost of the roof, regardless of the current cost of materials, etc., minus your deductible.
ACV will only cover the actual value of your roof after depreciation, minus your deductible. In other words, the older your roof is, the less your insurance company will pay to replace it.
Pull out your insurance policy or call your insurance agent, and review your policy to see what your policy covers. If you still believe your damage warrants filing a claim, your next step is to get an inspection.
2. Get an Inspection
Many roofers offer a free inspection of your roof, especially after a storm. They’re experts at identifying damage. Plus, they can be another great resource for understanding your policy.
This is why it’s so important to choose a roofer you can trust.
They will document any damage they find and can often spot damage that may be lurking beneath the surface.
Depending on the damage your roofer finds, they may help you decide if it makes sense to file a claim. They can’t speak for your insurance company, but can often act as a liaison between you and your insurance company.
However, if your roofer doesn’t find much damage and feels there’s a chance your claim might be denied, it may make sense not to file a claim. And if your roof still needs repairs, you can negotiate directly with your roofer.
2. Make Temporary Repairs if Necessary
If your roof is badly damaged and there’s a risk of more severe weather, you or your roofer should make any temporary repairs to keep you in the dry.
Keep track of the expenses incurred and hold on to any receipts for tarps, materials, etc. These can be submitted with your claim.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you and your roofer have decided it makes sense to file a claim, it’s time to contact your insurance company.
Most insurance companies make this process easy. Simply call the number listed on your policy to report a loss. Many companies even allow you to file your claim online.
You’ll be given a claim number, and then they’ll send an adjuster to inspect the damage.
The insurance company will then determine if the damage you have is covered under your policy and give you their estimate for the cost of repairing or replacing your roof.
But remember, even though your insurance company values you as a policy holder, insurance companies are a business. They’re concerned with their own best interest.
They may decide it’s in their best interest to replace your roof and avoid a bigger claim in the future, but they are not obligated to meet your expectations.
Another thing to remember is that the adjuster works for them, not you. That’s why you need an inspection from an independent roofer. Don’t rely on the adjuster’s inspection alone.
A good Service Roofer can be very helpful during this process because they work for you, not the insurance company. They may even offer to be present during the adjuster’s visit to make sure the adjuster hasn’t missed anything.
Your roofer’s estimate may be different than the insurance company’s estimate. But since your roofer is a professional, they can do a better job of justifying their findings and help you get a better result from your insurance company.
3. Review the Scope of Work with Your Roofer
Before starting any work, sit down with your roofer and make sure you understand the scope of work.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good Service Roofer prefers it when the client is well-informed.
Here are a few questions you should definitely ask:
- Will the work done address all the issues found by both the insurance company and the roofer? If not, what won’t be included?
- What material will be used? Is it equal to or better than what is currently on the roof?
- What warranties are included? There should be a warranty on materials from the manufacturer, but you should also expect a warranty on workmanship from your roofer.
- When will the work begin?
- What is the expected timeline for the project?
- Will materials be delivered to the job site ahead of time? If so, are there any power lines, steep driveways, or other conditions that would interfere with the delivery?
- What, if any, impact will there be on existing landscaping or other structures? A good Service Roofer will do their best to protect the existing landscaping and structure of the house.
- What type of on-site support do you offer during the roofing project?
This last question is more important than you might realize. Some roofers, especially those who would qualify as storm chasers, don’t offer any on-site support.
4. Clarify How Payments Will Be Handled
The insurance claims payment process may seem convoluted, so make sure you understand it. The Insurance Information Institute can be a good resource to learn more.
For example, if you have a mortgage, your mortgage company will be listed on your insurance policy. The check will be made out to both you and the mortgage company, and you’ll both need to endorse it.
This protects the mortgage company’s interest in your home by guaranteeing that the repairs are made.
If you don’t have a mortgage company, you can have checks made directly to you.
It’s also normal for the insurance company to send two or more checks over the course of the project. The first check should be enough to get the project started. The last check will cover the balance and may be subject to verification that the work was completed.
Make sure you are satisfied with the work before authorizing the insurance company to cut the final check.
In some cases, a roofer may ask you to sign a “direction to pay” form that authorizes the insurance company to pay the roofer directly.
Be careful here though. Assigning your roof claim to a third party takes you out of the picture and surrenders your control of the claim.
5. Unexpected Damage or Expenses
If your roofer found unexpected damage, don’t panic. Contact your insurance company and let them know. Again, your roofer can be an advocate for you when talking to your insurance company.
The additional expenses may be covered in a third check or may be included in your final check from the insurance company.
6. Finalize the Project
When the project is finished to your satisfaction, contact your insurance company and your mortgage company (if applicable). Schedule any inspections that each may require.
Once the final check is cut, sit down again with your roofer and make sure you have all the relevant paperwork for warranties, contact information, service contracts, etc.
Then make your final payment to the roofer and enjoy the comfort of knowing your roof is ready to resume its job of protecting you and your family.
Suspect You’ve Got Roof Damage?
Click here to learn more information artist schedules for a free assessment from Roofsimple, and we’ll be happy to go over these factors and whether or not it makes sense for you to file a claim.
Roofsimple offers guidance, not advice. Any insurance or financial decisions should be discussed with a trusted financial adviser or licensed insurance agent.