With extreme weather events becoming more common and storms more frequent, there’s never been a better time to find out about roofing insurance. You want to ensure that your homeowners insurance covers everything you need it to and figure out how to claim if you need to.
According to Climate.gov, 2020 was a historic year for weather catastrophe with 22 separate events causing more than a $1 billion of damage. They estimate these events cost the nation $95 billion in total.
Perhaps you’ve been unfortunate enough to have your home’s roof damaged by a storm, a falling tree, windblown debris, hail or even lightning. Repairing or replacing the roof is urgent, but it’s vital to get the process right, so that you get the best deal from your roofing contractor, reimbursed appropriately by your insurer.
Let’s look at the stages you’ll go through when you make your claim.
1: Incident Documentation
Whatever happens, assuming its safe to do so, document the incident with photos or video. Also describe the specific damage in writing and in detail. We only recommend getting up on a ladder if it’s safe to do so, and if you habitually use a ladder for work. Otherwise, binoculars are a great way to survey damage from a safe distance. Do not, whatever you do, go onto the roof!
In addition, if the damage has been caused by a significant weather event, then do make a report to your State Emergency Management Agency – you can find a list of them here. Do the latter for two reasons. Firstly, because they may have funds which will pay for temporary accommodation if your home is uninhabitable. Secondly, both this report and your visual and written documentation will be useful when providing information to your insurer, who will have to gauge eligibility.
If you are being provided with disaster relief for an “act of God” your insurer should pay out, without it affecting your individual premiums.
2: Assessment and Temporary Fix
You may want to pay a local contractor to do a professional assessment and perform a temporary fix (such as making the roof waterproof with weighted tarpaulins), while you await an insurance inspection.
Things your assessment should include:
- Roof joists, beams and shingles.
- Chimneys, guttering, windows.
- Plumbing leaks and water tank damage.
- Structural damage, including walls and edges.
- Missing metal siding or fascia.
- Attic damage including insulation and electrics.
3: Policy Document Interpretation
Hopefully you’ve stored your home insurance policy somewhere safe or can access an online version. Your homeowner’s insurance should cover the full structure of your home, including the roof and should reimburse claims for unanticipated events, such as weather damage, fire or even the weight of any snow which builds up.
Be aware that in recent years, due to the increasing frequency of such claims, some insurers have added clauses to policies which could limit the amount or type of reimbursement you receive. For instance, if you have a historic building with hard to replace period shingles, the cover may reimburse only the expense of replacing the roof with a lower-cost alternative.
There are also deductibles to consider, which in the case of wind or hail damage, could be considerable. Locate and read through your insurance clauses for roofing cover, and if necessary, consult a solicitor, or an experienced roofing contractor for help.
4: Engagement with your Insurer
Your insurer should send an insurance adjuster to assess the damage and relay that information back to initiate your claim. You can show them any documentation or contractor assessments you have obtained. Even though this is a stressful time, try to remain polite and professional throughout your dealings with your insurer. Given the surge in weather-related claims, they may be dealing with a heavy workload.
Do note that they may not come immediately, especially if there’s a widespread natural disaster. You may need a temporary repair and to find alternate accommodation while your claim is processed. Hopefully you’ll be able to access any disaster relief fund that has been set up.
If the damage is comparatively minor, it may be safe to remain in the house. If you do, look out for any water stains that form in attics, on walls or on ceilings as these could indicate a leak that wasn’t visible from outside. As a rule of thumb: if in doubt, stay out.
5: Getting Quotations
With your assessment and insurance adjuster visit complete, you should be able to obtain quotes from local roofing contractors. A word of warning – beware of unscrupulous “storm chasers.” These are contractors who actively canvass disaster areas touting for business. You are unlikely to get the best deal from these individuals.
Instead research local contractors, using word of mouth, local listings and review sites such as HomeAdvisor, Angi or Mr Handyman. Make sure you describe the damage in full, the urgency of repair and do include any visual documentation you have.
Some local firms will offer a site inspection and quotation for free, which should ensure that the price you’re quoted will be the price you’ll pay. Some will also offer to put you in touch with former clients or display testimonials on their websites from previous jobs, which should help provide reassurance.
Always get at least three or four quotations – you may find they vary significantly.
6: Hiring your Contractor
Compare your quotations and the anticipated date of completion and remember to factor in additional accommodation costs during the rebuild or repair. You’ll still be liable for mortgage payments during this time. You may choose to accept a higher quotation from a contractor who’s able to do the job in ten days fewer than their nearest competitor. You’ll save on accommodation costs, which you can offset against the higher quote.
If you have a historic building you may want to contract with a specialist firm, since you may be required to replace like for like, especially with shingles, visible beams, and chimneys. Experienced historical restoration firms may have ongoing contracts with suppliers of hard to obtain period materials and may provide a better deal.
7: Minimising Costs During Rebuild
There’s no way to sugar-coat it – roof repair can be expensive. In a 2020 report, Remodeling magazine found that the average cost of asphalt shingle replacement was $24,700, and for metal roofing, the average was $40,318. Such expense is understandable when you consider both how vital a solid roof is, and how much abuse it takes from the elements.
However, there are ways to keep your costs down during a rebuild. Not living in the house may actually speed up the process of a repair, since contractors will not have to work around you. If you’re able to live with friends or family, then you’ll save on accommodation costs. You can even hire RVs as temporary accommodation, for short-term stays.
Lastly, of course, working with a trusted local contractor who has repaired other buildings in your neighborhood gives you the best chance of receiving a fair deal, as well as a speedy yet professional repair.
If you’re in, or near the Cary and Raleigh, NC area, why not get in touch with Triangle’s Trusted Roofing Company for a free roofing quotation. We’re experts in the complexities of roofing insurance and will be happy to advise.
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