Alas, there was a storm and a tree branch hit your old siding or you noticed roof shingles missing or on the ground. These are things you want to get fixed! Whether minor or major, storm damage falls into the category of “Acts of God” and are not your fault. Your Homeowner’s policy premium doesn’t go up when you file a claim. (It will go up however if many of the neighbors file claims on their property.)
This is a brief discussion of how the insurance process works, what to expect and how to help ensure you are made whole on the damages.
A LOCAL LICENSED contractor used to dealing with insurance companies will be a big help. If you contact them ahead of time they can assess your damage and advise if a claim is likely to be approved or not and going forward will meet with the insurance adjuster on the roof or property as your advocate. Local firms have a vested interest in doing solid work and protecting their reputation in the community. Additionally, a local company will be there in the future should any issues arise unlike “storm chasers”. Learn more from our local, Northern Virginia roofing and siding pros all about getting them replaced by insurance!
1. Take quick action if this is an emergency.
If power lines are affected call the power company. If the roof is structurally damaged or a branch penetrated through the roof deck it’s a wise to have competent roofer install a tarp to prevent more water damage. Normally your policy will pay tarps and work to prevent further damage.
2. Dust off your insurance policy.
There’s a lot of intense boiler plate to read through but you can see your deductible as well as the policy limits.
3. Call a local contractor who works with insurance.
They will advise on your claim and work with your insurance company to get all the damage paid for.
4. Filing a claim.
You can call or file on line. The contractor can assist or even file for you depending on the protocols of your carrier. They will want to know what happened and when. For example; on such and such date we had a storm and the next day I saw two pieces of my aluminum siding bent off. Or; “last Sunday the wind was really strong and today I found shingles in my backyard”. Don’t make demanding statements such as; “I want a new roof”, or “you guys owe me new siding because I’ve been paying my policy for 20 years”. Keep to the facts and keep it simple.
In some cases with minor damage your insurance may only ask for estimates from contractors and elect to pay your claim that way, (minus deductible). In most instances involving roofs or siding they will send an ADJUSTER. This is a professional, sometimes with immense hands on knowledge of roofs and construction but sometimes it’s an entry level position for a young person just out of high school. It varies from company to company.
5a. The adjustment process.
There’s a lot of variation from insurance companies on how this is handled. The big carries will can have a staff adjusters that will come and check out the damage. Other companies can use a ladder service that will take pictures and communicate with an adjuster in an office somewhere else in the country. Other companies use independent adjusters.
This meeting between the insurance company and your roof/siding damage is where the ‘rubber meets the road’. As friendly as Insurance Companies portray themselves on TV, appearing by magic with an umbrella or a check for the customer, they make their money by paying as little as possible on claims. This is when having someone knowledgeable in your corner pays big dividends.
6. The estimate.
The adjuster will decide if your damage is covered under the terms of your policy. According to the type and extent of damage as well as WHERE you live, the adjuster will write up an estimate detailing what they will pay for. Your deductible is subtracted from this amount.
The estimate can be very detailed and pages long. That’s one reason why it can take a couple weeks to hear back.
There’s two basic components of the insurance estimate.
Often these are run side by side in two adjacent columns down the page:
A. What your damaged stuff is worth now, i.e. the market value of your old worn roof as it sits. This includes depreciation. This is the amount they might write an initial check for.
B. The replacement value, that is, what it costs to repair or replace your damaged roof. The difference will be sent to you once your carrier has proof that the work has been done. Proof could be a Certificate of Completion from a licensed contractor.
Insurance companies want to make sure that work is done before they pay the final amount.
7. Once your estimate comes you can see what they’re paying for.
This is the 2nd critical inflexion point. Your siding might only have some damage and they want to pay for that BUT it’s no longer being manufactured and no replacements are to be had. OR, your old roof has damage on a couple sides and insurance wants to pay for repairs. Again the shingles are discontinued OR the roof is too brittle and replacing some shingles will cause more damage. These are examples of where a good contractor can fairly and justly, according to the tenants of your policy, get the entire roof or house siding paid for.
8. If at first you don’t succeed…
A contractor can “supplement” for additional damage that needs to be covered. They will submit paperwork to your insurance stating what and why additional work needs to be covered under your claim. It’s a common omission in the initial estimate that material and work required by modern building codes isn’t getting paid for. A contractor can supplement for that too.
In the end if you don’t like what the adjuster had to say you can also request another adjustment. They won’t reduce your claim, what’s already on the docket to be paid for won’t be taken away but on the 2nd go you might get a more amenable guy in a better mood and you remind him of his childhood buddy. It’s important that requests for further adjustments have a factual basis and not be frivolous.
Important differences between insurance and “regular market” work/contracts.
1. For some types of work insurance pays above market rate and for other types of work they pay below.
This can be an artifact of their pricing software or the market where you live. Roofs, siding and interior repairs are fairly compensated for usually, carpentry, decks and fences maybe not so much.
2. If insurance says they will pay you $10,000 for your claim and you get it done for $8,000, they will pay you $8,000 and keep the rest.
You don’t get a gold star in you file either. Therefore your only concern is getting the best quality most enduring job the money will pay for. You have to pay your deductible too. Oftentimes, with roofs especially, there’s upgraded materials and warranties from the current old situation and the contractor can have these be part of the deal without consequence. If a situation arises where one wants to keep money by slight of hand with the paperwork it’s insurance fraud and can lead to all kinds of unhappy consequences.
Getting the best local roofer and sider in Northern Virginia
Reputable companies in your region have a vested interest in doing a good job. Their business model depends on happy customers. Look at reviews on Google, Angie and Home Advisor. These are usually based on many multiple projects and will give you a good feel for what to expect.
Clearly understand what your scope of work is, what it includes and schedule expectations.
How to get siding or roofing replaced by insurance in Northern Virginia
At RIBA Construction, we are a Licensed Virginia Class A Contractor specializing in all types of siding, roofing and exterior renovations.
We have years of expertise working on projects in Northern Virginia including the following:
• Roofing repairs and replacement
• Windows and doors
• Residential/commercial construction
• And more!
If you are interested in working with us, please call (703)721-4420 to schedule your free consultation today