Handling hail damage with insurance company, contractors

Stretching Your Dollar

INDIANAPOLIS – This is the time of year home insurance claims start to sky rocket.  Storm season boosts the number of claims. 

Here in Central Indiana, with all the recent storms, including hail, it’s a big problem.  The average cost of Indiana homeowners insurance premiums is $660 a year.  That’s lower than the national average which is closer to $800.  Whatever the cost, you can save on insurance by increasing your deductible, but make sure it’s something you can afford to pay out if necessary. 

You also want to make sure you’ve got a good policy in case you have to make a claim.  Know the different parts of your policy to make sure you are covered for what you think you may need.  Once a storm hits, you should act fast and be detailed.

“Before anyone comes out to inspect your home, you can see if you have damage from a hail storm by looking for little imperfections and dimples in your gutters, garage doors, and mail boxes.  This is what we consider soft metal damage from hail,” said Eric Fisher, a partner with Royal Construction Services

FOX59 went along with the people of Royal Construction Services to a home that had hail damage in Zionsville.  We went up on the roof to check it out.

“We are looking for creased shingles, which is considered wind damage.  We are also looking for missing shingles.  Then we will go through spotting damage with our eyes, and then take pieces of chalk to start circling indentations where the hail actually impacts the shingle,” explained Fisher.

Similar damage has happened a lot recently.  If you think you have property damage, you generally have one year to file an insurance claim with many insurance companies.  But it makes the most sense to file your claim immediately.  After a storm, be careful of door to door sales from roofing contractors.  If they are high pressure and also if they are from out of state, be weary.  Local roofers will also sometimes go door to door, but if you go with them, you know they are more likely to be around if something goes wrong.  And always check them out before accepting any offer or deal to do work on your home.

In terms of insurance companies, be careful if an insurance company tries to lowball you with their first offer.  Prior to agreeing to any payout, check with your contractor to see if they think the offer makes sense for the damage you have.

Our experts say you also want a policy that provides the replacement cost for your damage, not the Actual Cash Value, or ACV of what it’s currently worth.  That’s because an old roof may not be worth much currently, but to replace it could cost a lot more.  There’s also what’s called a “public adjuster” if you have damage and insurance is not paying. 

“So, getting a public adjuster is an additional process.  It takes a little while longer but it allows us to get the adjuster involved as a third party for the homeowner and not as the adjuster for the insurance company,” said Chris Shuler, Partner Royal Construction Services.

Keep in mind, most insurance companies want you to have a good roof because it’s an important part of protecting your home that they are insuring.  Having a quality roof protects your house from the rain, snow, hail and heat.  That brings us back to some of the roofing contractors who go door to door, wanting you to sign an agreement to fix it.

“And often times they are wanting you to sign a contract before you even meet with an adjuster.  We don’t ever do that.  We don’t ever ask for any money up front and I don’t ask for you to sign a contract before we’ve met with that adjuster.  That way you’ve got nothing to lose.  That roof is on before you give me any money,” said Shuler.

Whoever you choose as a possible contractor, it’s a good idea to have them there when the insurance adjuster comes out!

“Have them there to walk through with the adjuster.  That way they can spot out everything and anything up front.  That makes the process smoother because in the end, you can always supplement for additional things,” said Shuler.

Another thing to keep in mind some insurance companies pay out claims more often than others. 

“We are a non match state, so there are insurance companies that will try to do just a partial replacement on your roof, instead of a full replacement. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen,” said Shuler

What happens far more often is some insurance companies provide good rates, but not good coverage.  Ask people who’ve actually had a claim.  How was the process for them and did the company pay out?

“Some homeowners find out they got a $25,000 claim, but it may only pay $15,000 because they are not paying the entire claim.  That homeowner is in a tough situation of what to do.  It does keep your premiums lower year to year, ultimately they suffer right now, so ask for references,” said Shuler.

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