Roof replacement comes with a hefty bill. Homeowners in areas that experience hail storms or high speed winds know this all too well. Depending on the size of the roof and materials you choose, the cost of a new roof could be a small fortune. Cashing in on your homeowners’ insurance might be your best and only option. In this article we will discuss how you can get your insurance provider to cover the cost of your roof replacement and what that process looks like.
Homeowners’ Insurance Policy
Before we get into the nitty gritty of homeowners’ insurance, I want you to go grab your own policy. Insurance companies always have a second policy specifically for hail/wind damage. They do this because over 40% of homeowners’ insurance claims result from hail or wind damage. Every single year, insurance agencies across the U.S. will cover billions of dollars worth of hail damage claims. They will offer one of three types of coverage for your roof: replacement cost, actual cash value (ACV), and no coverage. Replacement cost being the best, ACV a little less, and no coverage obviously the worst. So, let’s discuss a little about what each means.
Replacement cost is the best coverage you can have for a roof. We will run a quick scenario to better understand the ins and outs of this type of coverage. Bob here is a 30-something homeowner with a wife, two kids, and a dog. A windstorm completely wrecks his roof and shingles have blown off all over the place. Complete roof replacement is going to cost Bob and his wife around $10,000...yikers. Because Bob and his wife have replacement cost coverage with their homeowners’ insurance, that $10,000 comes with a little less of a “gulp”. Replacement cost coverage will completely cover the cost of the replacement minus Bob’s $1,000 deductible. Everything goes smoothly and Bob gets his new roof. Yay! Replacement cost coverage will give you however much money you need to replace your roof minus your deductible. It’s simple and offers the most coverage for your roof.
Actual Cash Value (ACV)
Actual cash value isn’t the best coverage but it’s definitely better than nothing. With ACV the insurance agencies will offer you money to replace the roof minus the roof’s depreciation. Well, what the heck does that mean? We will rewind our Bob narrative back to the point he realizes he needs a new roof, except this time he has ACV coverage. The roof replacement will still cost about $10,000. The insurance adjuster says the roof has lost $2,000 in value since the time it had been installed. The insurance agency offers to cover only $8,000, which includes Bob’s $1,000 deductible. Bob and his wife are then left spending $2,000 out of pocket to replace their roof. So, ACV covers what value is left in your roof from the time it was installed. It is not the best coverage you can have but it sure beats paying $10,000 out of pocket.
This type of coverage is pretty self explanatory. No coverage means no coverage. Bob needs his roof replaced after a major wind storm, Bob pays $10,000 out of pocket to replace that roof. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in but that’s exactly why I had you get your policy. Look at which type of coverage your insurance agency offers and make sure it works for you. I don’t think I need to convince you that $10,000 out of pocket is worse than $2,000. If your roof is covered you will likely deal with this process at some point in your life.
The Process of Roof Replacement
The process of actually dealing with the insurance agency can be a pretty easy one. There are three parties involved: you, the roofing contractor, and your insurance adjuster. The first step will be contacting at least 3 local, reputable, professional roofing contractors to get estimates on your roof replacement. If you’re interested, I have already written an entire blog posting on finding a quality contractor called Choosing The Right Contractor. Once you have decided between contractors, either you or your roofing contractor will contact your insurance company and submit a claim.
An insurance adjuster will schedule a visit to your home and inspect your roof. Your insurance adjuster will either be a staff adjuster, meaning they work directly for your insurance agency, or they will be a public adjuster, meaning they do not work directly for your insurance agency. The roofing contractor will typically accompany the insurance adjuster for their scheduled visit and discuss their estimate. Most insurance adjusters won’t cover a few shingles here, a few shingles there. Some companies may want to see something like 10 damaged/missing shingles per slope. If one slope has 12 damaged/missing shingles and the other only 2 or 3 then they will not cover the cost of that 2nd slope. Every insurance agency has their own set of protocols on what they will cover and what they will not.
Your adjuster should give you some kind of paperwork listing off what is covered and what is not. Once all three of you are in agreement on what needs done and for how much, you can move forward with payment. The insurance agency will hand you the check to start working. In some cases, they may only give you half of the check. Don’t freak out on them, they do this to incentivize the money goes where it’s supposed to. They will hand the rest of the money over once the job is completed. This shouldn’t be a problem for your roofing contractor as most will ask for half upfront, half after completion.
Maximizing Your Claim
There are a few things that can be done to really get the most out of your claim. The best start to maximizing your claim is to get a seasoned, professional roofing contractor. They will be best able to effectively communicate and negotiate with your insurance adjuster on your behalf. They’ll understand something like matching codes.
Some states have certain matching codes that require a product of like material and like color be installed. So, say you have shingles that the insurance agency agrees to patch but your shingles are discontinued or they have a unique color no longer available. In that case you may be able to maximize your claim by having the entire roof replaced. An experienced and professional roofer will be able to catch these kinds of details that would have gone unnoticed.
They also know your local building codes. Some adjusters aren’t even from the area. A big storm hits a particular location and the insurance agency sends out their adjusters where they need them. The insurance adjuster may not be familiar with your area’s building codes and neglect to include costs specific to the code. You or your roofing professional can go to the township, make copies of the building code, and send them to the adjuster. Again, this is something only a seasoned and professional roofer would catch.
Every job is different and every insurance agency has their own policies and protocols to follow but a great roofer can help immensely with the process. However, one thing you can do is simply be nice. Be nice to the roofing contractor and be nice to the adjuster. They both have enormous roles in the claims process and having a friendly relationship with both will absolutely make a difference. Thanks for reading, please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below and if you found this blog posting informative there is a button for Facebook sharing above the comments.