Posted in: Homeowner tips, Selling a home

Hail, storm or winter damage: How to determine if you need a new roof

Hail damage on roof

Key insights

  • Did your home sustain damage from a hail storm or another weather event? Your first step is to call a licensed roofing contractor.
  • Next, you’ll want to call your insurance company to file a claim.
  • Learn how claims are processed, and what standards may be required in order for your roofing claim to be approved.

After a hail storm or intense weather event, homeowners may worry that their roof has been damaged. “If a roof is in need of repair or replacement, some tell-tale signs are that shingles or granular debris are found in your gutters, yard or driveway,” said Scott Teece, vice president of sales for Edina Realty Insurance.

If you’re seeing debris and damage, you’ll want to see if the damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Here are insights you can use to determine damage and file a claim.

What steps should I take when filing a claim for roof damage from a storm?

The process for filing a claim for roof damage from a hail storm or winter storm is fairly simple.

  1. First, call a contractor who will assess the damage and determine if it was caused by hail, snow damage or another covered event.
  2. If the contractor finds this level of roof damage, call your insurance company to file a claim. Have your policy number and the date of the hail storm ready when you call.
  3. The insurance company will send an adjuster to evaluate the damage and determine if repair or replacement is covered by your policy.

If the adjuster agrees that the damage needs to be fixed and will be covered by your homeowner’s policy, the roofer can begin the process of fixing up the roof.

What if the adjuster and contractor disagree on the damage?

This isn’t uncommon — and it doesn’t necessarily mean your claim will be denied, says Teece. “If the insurance adjuster and contractor aren’t in agreement on the cause or level of damage, the homeowner should request that they speak to one another and try to reach alignment. In some cases, they may reach a consensus that satisfies everyone.”

If the contractor and adjuster cannot reach consensus, Teece said, the homeowner can request a second opinion from a new adjuster.

When can the roofer get started?

Once the claim is approved by the insurance company, your roofer can begin repairs.

  1. Provide the roofer with the document showing the approved claim. In most cases, credible roofers will not begin repair until they see this documentation.
  2. The roofer will provide a timeline and plan for repairs, and begin to fix the damaged roof.
  3. Once the work is completed, the homeowner is responsible for sending proof of the project completion to their insurance company.
  4. The insurance company pays the homeowner, who then pays out the roofer.

Can’t my insurance company pay the roofer directly?

No, your insurance company will not work directly with the contractor. Because the insurance company insures your home, you are the only party who can receive payment for a covered claim. You may, however, be able to sign over the check from your insurance company to the roofer you select.

Why can’t I get a check for the repair before the work is done?

In most cases, your insurance company will send you two checks:

  1. One for the depreciated value of the damaged component
  2. One to cover the replacement or repairs of the damage

The check for the depreciated value may arrive before your roofer has begun or completed the work. But the larger amount — for the roof repair or replacement — will not be sent until your insurance company has received proof that the roofer has finished the job. This protocol is in place to protect the insurance company against fraud.

Roofers and contractors may request a deposit for their services, but they will usually understand that the bulk of the payment is received after the job is complete.

Other common questions about storms and roof damage

What are adjusters looking for when they assess damage?

In addition to looking for obvious signs of damage — like missing or chipped shingles and gutter damage — the adjuster will evaluate if there is enough damage to warrant repair or replacement.

Insurance companies have standardized damage metrics to ensure all clients receive equal coverage and protection. For example, your insurance company’s standard for hail damage may be 10 hail marks within a 10 square foot area. If a property meets the standard criteria, the adjuster would approve the claim.

Two of my neighbors were approved for new roofs. Why was my claim denied?

Storms, especially those that involve hail, are typically quite spotty — and the ensuing property damage is not usually uniform for the entire area of the storm.

“Even if properties in a three-mile radius are all under the same storm cloud or storm system, it doesn’t mean that every house will have the same damage… or be eligible for a new roof,” explains Teece. “I always compare it to a cornfield. If a storm races through farmland, some of the crops may be damaged, but it doesn’t usually wipe out the entire cornfield.”

In other words, your adjuster will not evaluate your damage in comparison to your neighbors’ damage; they will determine if your property is eligible based on the standard criteria of the company and your policy.

Why would only part of my roof be repaired?

Because storm damage can be concentrated and spotty, it’s possible that your insurance company would cover the replacement of one part of your roof, but not the entire thing. “If the slope of the roof was hit hard by the storm but the rest of your roof doesn’t show any damage, your insurance company may repair only the damaged slope,” said Teece.

There is one primary exception to this, and that occurs if the roofer cannot find shingles to match your current roof in color, size or material. “If your roof is unique and matching shingles aren’t available, you may receive approval for the entire house to be re-roofed,” said Teece.

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