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Roof Hail Damage - Best Practices for Inspecting and/or Filing a Claim

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My house was recently hit by a significant hail storm. Hail was somewhere around nickel or quarter sized.

All of the window screens on one side of the house are blown out and most of the leaves have been stripped off of my trees. The hail was bad enough to dent some cars on the street in front of my house.

I think there is a pretty good chance I have roof damage. Where should I start with having the roof inspected for damage? The insurance company? An independent inspector? A roofing company?

Not sure if it makes a difference, but I've only owned the home for about 6 months so the policy is pretty new. I'm kinda worried about my insurance company (Amica) dropping me for making a claim so quickly.

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USAA did this to me.  I asked an "is it covered" question on a hail storm - I had an "outbuilding" (barn) that had blown... (more)

dcg9381 (May. 31, 2017 @ 2:45p) |

Things have been pretty interesting in trying to get quotes. Most of the roofing companies I've been talking to will not... (more)

Kevo171 (Jun. 06, 2017 @ 1:18p) |

I'm based in Wheaton and had a similar issue. I'd recommend talking to a reliable roofing contractor first. Insurance co... (more)

carrcaitlynn7 (Jul. 11, 2017 @ 10:23a) |

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rated:
The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

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What state are you located in? I live in Colorado and had to have my roof replaced last year due to golf ball size hail. I am sure you are going to be bombarded by roofing companies asking to look on your roof to check damage. I would start some research and find a reputable local roofing company. Have them inspect it before you contact your insurance company and make sure not to sign anything. 

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defjukie said:   The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

  
How can unnecessary calls to my insurance company cost me? Will calling them to ask a question lead them to drop me or something?

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Kevo171 said:   
defjukie said:   The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

  
How can unnecessary calls to my insurance company cost me? Will calling them to ask a question lead them to drop me or something?

  No but a simple call for information can show up on your CLUE report.

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I was in a similar situation 6 months ago, and I also have Amica in Virginia.

I called one reputable contractor, and he didn't see anything right away. Given all of my neighbors were getting new roofs at that point, I called Amica and asked them to send out their adjuster, as I didn't want a "storm chaser" looking at the roof. They sent someone out, he went up on the roof, and 20 minute later came down with enough photos of damage to authorize me for a new roof. Got a check in about a week.

The first contractor we were going to use wanted to see the insurance paperwork before he'd even give me a price. He was banking on the adjuster over-pricing the work. I said no, and called another contractor that a neighbor had used. The estimate, including an upgrade to the GAF Timberline HD architectural shingles came in less than what Amica had given me (and Amica stated they would have been willing to give me more if it really was needed).

Amica is great. Don't worry about calling them

After the Earthquake in Spotsylvania VA a few years ago, we noticed a crack in our foundation. Called Amica, described the crack and talked about what was or wasn't covered. The agent didn't think the crack would be covered and didn't think what we were describing could have been caused by an earth quake, but they said "let's send out a structural engineer to take a look anyway". He confirmed it wasn't a covered crack, but we got the full report on our foundation. No increase in policy.

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asking a roofer if your roof needs replacing is like asking a barber if you need a haircut.

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T800 said:   
Kevo171 said:   
defjukie said:   The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

  
How can unnecessary calls to my insurance company cost me? Will calling them to ask a question lead them to drop me or something?

  No but a simple call for information can show up on your CLUE report.

  Agree - Do not call the 800 #.

This is where a good old fashioned "local" agent can come in Handy -- they can look into things for you and give you 'advice'

I have had some storm damage and talked it over with my agent and we went through a few scenarios (what if I pay it, what is the threshold for claims vs. triggering and increase in insurance, what would the rate increase look like, out of pocket vs. rate increase, how long the rate increase would last before good standing is established, etc.)  I was surprised what they came back with - something like anything under $1,500 or $1,000 will not trigger and increase (you could have multiple $1,000 claims and it would not trigger and increase) but there was a magic number where the algorithm would pick it up.

They will do the same for your home - so you may want to get someone to give you an estimate (tell them you are paying out of pocket to get the best price) - then you can compare that with your deductible. And if it is significantly more then you can talk to your agent.. or if you don't have one call the 800 #.
 

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How old is the roof? If more than 15 or 20 years, you won't get anywhere near the replacement cost from insurance. If nickel or quarter size hail damages your roof, it must be pretty deteriorated to begin with.

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I have a big, big secret to tell you: Insurance companies make billions of dollars NOT by paying claims but by DENYING claims...they will tell you acts of God are not covered....to get them to pay you have to say it was wind damage.

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I had hail damage on my then 15-20 year old roof.  Got a reputable roofer who marked all the places where the hail damage had occurred including window capping and aluminum siding.  When the adjuster came, the roofer went over the the damage areas with him and the adjuster approved the new roof, siding and damaged window capping on the spot.  He mentioned that he appreciated the fact that the roofer made his job easier by marking where the damage was.  He was in and out and less than an hour.

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atikovi said:   How old is the roof? If more than 15 or 20 years, you won't get anywhere near the replacement cost from insurance. If nickel or quarter size hail damages your roof, it must be pretty deteriorated to begin with.
  While that seems very logical, it is not how roof, gutter and siding insurance works.  They will indeed pay for an entirely new roof without considering depreciating to the current remaining life.  I put claim into State Farm for hail damaged 1981 aluminium siding in 2009.  I had replaced roof a year or 2 before.  Many neighbors got new roofs in addition to siding.  Only one side of house was damaged but they said it could no longer be matched.  So I got new siding on whole house along with new rain gutters but no roof.  It didn't seem logical to me - but I cashed the check.  I went ahead and replaced the old windows (the seals on several were leaking) and added 1/4" exterior foam siding.

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misterphillip said:   I have a big, big secret to tell you: Insurance companies make billions of dollars NOT by paying claims but by DENYING claims...they will tell you acts of God are not covered....to get them to pay you have to say it was wind damage.
  Cool sound bite, but not true. I would bet that less than 10% of homeowner claims are denied (probably way under 10%). Basic policies don't cover flood or earthquake. But almost every other "act of God" is covered. If an insurer was routinely denying covered losses, they would need to employ hundreds to respond to insurance department complaints.

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wolfgangdieter said:   
atikovi said:   How old is the roof? If more than 15 or 20 years, you won't get anywhere near the replacement cost from insurance. If nickel or quarter size hail damages your roof, it must be pretty deteriorated to begin with.
  While that seems very logical, it is not how roof, gutter and siding insurance works.  They will indeed pay for an entirely new roof without considering depreciating to the current remaining life.  I put claim into State Farm for hail damaged 1981 aluminium siding in 2009.  I had replaced roof a year or 2 before.  Many neighbors got new roofs in addition to siding.  Only one side of house was damaged but they said it could no longer be matched.  So I got new siding on whole house along with new rain gutters but no roof.  It didn't seem logical to me - but I cashed the check.  I went ahead and replaced the old windows (the seals on several were leaking) and added 1/4" exterior foam siding.

  Some insurance companies DO reduce the payment depending on the age of the roof. My former insurance company will only pay 50% of a replacement on a 10 year old roof. I changed to Geico homeowners and they have a $2,500 deductible on wind and hail damage.

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I have had the same thing happen with 2 houses; one was successful and one was not. Start with a good roofing company based in your area for your first inspection. Don't use the fly by night roofers from out of town who come in looking for business after a hail storm. Also you are not required to use a roofer recommended by the insurance company or its adjuster. Be sure to also document hail damage to screens, siding, and windows. Then after your roofer has inspected, have your roofer there when the insurance adjuster comes out. Keep in mind that many insurance company adjusters think a big part of their job is finding a reason to deny your claim. Some insurance company adjusters are competent and honest, others are not. One scam they use is to only look at a small portion of the roof and they say they don't see any damage and deny your claim. Once on the roof, hail damage is easy to see for someone trained in that area. Be sure to tell the adjuster to look at the entire roof. Unless you are claiming for damage to the interior of your house, don't let the adjuster inside; no good will come from this. Hold out for getting the entire roof replaced; not just a small patch because it is had to match and unmatched roofing will reduce your house value. Before starting work, be sure the amount the insurance company wants to pay will cover the roof cost less the deductible. Get everything in writing and read it carefully. If the insurance company denies your claim or wants to pay less than you deserve, you can appeal it to the insurance company; they all have an internal appeals process. You can also hire a private adjuster to document the damage and help in your appeal. If all else fails and your claim is denied, you have the right to sue the insurance company for breach of contract.

rated:
T800 said:   
Kevo171 said:   
defjukie said:   The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

  
How can unnecessary calls to my insurance company cost me? Will calling them to ask a question lead them to drop me or something?

  No but a simple call for information can show up on your CLUE report.

  If he already has broken windows and screens and tree damage, he's going to have a claim anyway.  He might as well include the roof since he's already going to hit his deductable.
 

rated:
wolfgangdieter said:   
atikovi said:   How old is the roof? If more than 15 or 20 years, you won't get anywhere near the replacement cost from insurance. If nickel or quarter size hail damages your roof, it must be pretty deteriorated to begin with.
  While that seems very logical, it is not how roof, gutter and siding insurance works.  They will indeed pay for an entirely new roof without considering depreciating to the current remaining life.  I put claim into State Farm for hail damaged 1981 aluminium siding in 2009.  I had replaced roof a year or 2 before.  Many neighbors got new roofs in addition to siding.  Only one side of house was damaged but they said it could no longer be matched.  So I got new siding on whole house along with new rain gutters but no roof.  It didn't seem logical to me - but I cashed the check.  I went ahead and replaced the old windows (the seals on several were leaking) and added 1/4" exterior foam siding.

A lot has changed since then. When I got a new H.O. policy last year they sent out an inspector to check the house from the outside. Don't remember the exact wording but because the roof is older, any covered incident that would require replacement will be pro-rated. i.e., if the roof has 20 year shingles and they are 15 years old, the roof only has 25% of it's remaining life left. So if a new roof is $10,000, insurance will only pay $2,500. Plus with deductibles, probably only $500.

rated:
CPAESQ said:   
T800 said:   
Kevo171 said:   
defjukie said:   The insurance company is going to want to send their own inspector out either way, so you might as well start there.

edit: on second thought, I'd maybe find a reputable roofing contractor to come inspect it first.  Unnecessary calls to your insurance company can end up costing you.

  
How can unnecessary calls to my insurance company cost me? Will calling them to ask a question lead them to drop me or something?

  No but a simple call for information can show up on your CLUE report.

  Agree - Do not call the 800 #.

This is where a good old fashioned "local" agent can come in Handy -- they can look into things for you and give you 'advice'

I have had some storm damage and talked it over with my agent and we went through a few scenarios (what if I pay it, what is the threshold for claims vs. triggering and increase in insurance, what would the rate increase look like, out of pocket vs. rate increase, how long the rate increase would last before good standing is established, etc.)  I was surprised what they came back with - something like anything under $1,500 or $1,000 will not trigger and increase (you could have multiple $1,000 claims and it would not trigger and increase) but there was a magic number where the algorithm would pick it up.

They will do the same for your home - so you may want to get someone to give you an estimate (tell them you are paying out of pocket to get the best price) - then you can compare that with your deductible. And if it is significantly more then you can talk to your agent.. or if you don't have one call the 800 #.

  
Amica doesn't have local agents, so that's not an option.

Update- I called Amica last night and they are sending out an independent inspector to take a look at the roof. We'll see how it goes from there.

rated:
RidicuRuss said:   asking a roofer if your roof needs replacing is like asking a barber if you need a haircut.
But having a written statement from a licensed roofer documenting hail damage certainly isn't going to hurt when the insurance company claims there is no damage and denies a claim.  

rated:
It is a good thing. One of my rentals with 25 year old roof got hit by hail. Allstate gave me a brand new roof for free.

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With regards to whether or not an older roof will be depreciated or not, it may not necessarily depend on which insurer you have, but on which option you have purchased on your policy. A few years back I called AAA to ask about a few possible options on reducing rates. One of the options she offered me was to change my roof coverage from replacement cost to depreciated value.

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king0fSpades said:   It is a good thing. One of my rentals with 25 year old roof got hit by hail. Allstate gave me a brand new roof for free.
  Technically not for free but we know what you mean.

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LordKronos said:   With regards to whether or not an older roof will be depreciated or not, it may not necessarily depend on which insurer you have, but on which option you have purchased on your policy. A few years back I called AAA to ask about a few possible options on reducing rates. One of the options she offered me was to change my roof coverage from replacement cost to depreciated value.
yes, everyone needs to know whether they are paying for 'full replacement' or 'actual cash value' coverage (and whether that is full replacement on structure/roof or contents or both).  It can make sense to get the lesser coverage, but only if you save enough on the premiums.  you need to know what you have for this when comparing premium quotes between insurers.

rated:
also in regards to 'reputable' roofing company vs. storm chasers:

Almost all the roofing companies anymore don't want to just give you a quote for replacement. They want to see the amount the insurance company has allowed and will do it for that (often times offering to eat the deductible so you have no money out of pocket). Or, if you talk to them before your insurance is involved, they will say they will 'work with your insurance' and magically their quote is exactly what the insurance will allow.

If this is what you want to do then, by all means, go with the best company you can find not some fly by night. However, there is sometimes a great advantage to working with a no-name if they will do it cheaper than the check that the insurance company gave you.

Here is a dirty secret: Most of the time the crews that actually do the work are a separate company from the guy who comes and looks at your roof and gets you to sign. That salesman usually makes as much on the deal as the guys up on the hot roof all day.

rated:
RidicuRuss said:   

Here is a dirty secret: Most of the time the crews that actually do the work are a separate company from the guy who comes and looks at your roof and gets you to sign. That salesman usually makes as much on the deal as the guys up on the hot roof all day.
 


So what? This happens in almost every industry.  In building construction, the general contractor have bunch of subcontractors who again subcontracts part of their work to independent contractors.  Heck, when my garage was built, the concrete foundation was laid by one company, framing and roofing was done by on company and gutters were installed by yet another company.  I only dealt with one person instead of dealing with three different contractors.  Re: the salesman making the same amount as those who are actually installing the roof, is the same as the restaurant owner making more $$ than a cook.
 

rated:
ach1199 said:   
RidicuRuss said:   

Here is a dirty secret: Most of the time the crews that actually do the work are a separate company from the guy who comes and looks at your roof and gets you to sign. That salesman usually makes as much on the deal as the guys up on the hot roof all day.


So what? This happens in almost every industry.  In building construction, the general contractor have bunch of subcontractors who again subcontracts part of their work to independent contractors.  Heck, when my garage was built, the concrete foundation was laid by one company, framing and roofing was done by on company and gutters were installed by yet another company.  I only dealt with one person instead of dealing with three different contractors.  Re: the salesman making the same amount as those who are actually installing the roof, is the same as the restaurant owner making more $$ than a cook.

  My point was that even though you think you are dealing with a 'reputable' company, in reality the work is being done by the same crews that the fly by night guys use...so you might as well try to save some money.

rated:
I've had 2 roofs replaced (primary and a rental) by insurance companies. At the time, I paid my deductible, and that's it....new roof. (Actually they cut me a check for the depreciated value on the spot, and then a 2nd check for replacement after I actually replaced roof).

That said...the industry is now changing regarding roofs and insurance. YMMV.

rated:
rascott said:   I've had 2 roofs replaced (primary and a rental) by insurance companies. At the time, I paid my deductible, and that's it....new roof. (Actually they cut me a check for the depreciated value on the spot, and then a 2nd check for replacement after I actually replaced roof).
 

  
I think that's how it is with my Farm Bureau policy, I know that's how it is for a total loss. If I rebuild the house, they'll pay for it, up to policy limits. If I want to walk away with a check and not rebuild the house, they'll pay Actual Market (AKA Depreciated) Value.

rated:
Had hail damage with Erie in 2007. 7 months after we moving in. Some storm chasers came by, looked at the roof and declared - like for our neighbors - that we had roof damage. Called Erie and they sent an adjuster. He agreed on need for roof replacement and damage to some gutters too. Sent us a check for those. He had missed damage to fence so we called back and sent them pictures of the fence with impact in wood clearly visible. Sent us another check for that. We asked for quotes from a couple of roofers - not storm chasers - recommended by neighbors, went with one of them which was less than what Erie had paid us. Erie did not raise our rates.

Considering Amica's customer service, I'd expect them to be very good at handling OP's claim. Just document everything with pictures. I don't think they should raise your rates either. Storm damage is something already baked in the statistics (and premiums) for your area, not a specific risk for the insured as there's not much you can do to prevent hail damage.

rated:
Just heard from the insurance inspector that Amica sent out. He is recommending a complete replacement of the roof and all vents on the roof as well as the gutters. In addition, he recommended 7 windows and a sliding glass door to be replaced, the deck to be repaired and restained, trim to be replaced and/or repainted and the fence to be repainted. Turns out there was way more damage than I thought. We'll see what Amica approves.

So far Amica has been really good. Some of my other neighbors who are using state farm and allstate aren't able to get inspectors and adjusters out for another month.

rated:
Update- Just heard from Amica. They are cutting a check for ~$19k for the damage the adjuster called out, which includes some amount of depreciation. My policy is replacement value, so they said to send them receipts and invoices in the event that the repairs ended up costing more than the check.

Not even 3 weeks after the storm and Amica is already cutting a check when my neighbors still can't get adjusters out from other insurance companies. I'm really impressed with Amica's service.

Are there any other considerations I should be aware of before cashing the check?

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Another Update-

Got the check from Amica. I'll ask again just in case- Are there any other considerations I should be aware of before cashing the check?

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As long as you don't dispute their findings, go ahead and cash it. There is often fine print that says cashing the check is an agreement of the total damages for this claim event.

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T800 said:   
Kevo171 said:   Kevo171;19869102 said:
  No but a simple call for information can show up on your CLUE report.

  
USAA did this to me.  I asked an "is it covered" question on a hail storm - I had an "outbuilding" (barn) that had blown-through skylights due to hail.  They said "yes" and I paid out of pocket to have it fixed.
CLUE shows a $0.00 hail claim on that date.  How nice..

rated:
Things have been pretty interesting in trying to get quotes. Most of the roofing companies I've been talking to will not bid on a job without assurance that they will be able to work directly with the insurance company to maximize the bid. I've been told "we aren't giving retail bids now. If you want to work with us, you have to let us work directly with your insurance".

rated:
I'm based in Wheaton and had a similar issue. I'd recommend talking to a reliable roofing contractor first. Insurance company may say that there is no roof damage (usually it's hard to tell for an inexperienced eye). In my case, an adjuster (also a roofing contractor, big surprise!) said that the roof damage was evident. He offered me to replace the roof or get an $11k cheque. That was higher than the contractor suggested. So I took the money and called the contractor I knew.

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