At a national average of $8,031, roof replacements are a significant purchase to pay out of pocket and a major reason why wind & hail damage is the #1 most common home insurance claim. The ability to cover roof replacement costs is one of the reasons that makes homeowners insurance so valuable, but if you are unaware of how your policy works and the steps required to file a claim, you could be denied coverage and end up having to cover expenses yourself.
That being said, if your neighborhood has been recently hit by any major storms, or if your roof is due for a replacement, follow this guide to navigating insurance claims for your residential roof to see if you qualify to have some or all costs covered under your home insurance policy.
Understanding Your Home Insurance Policy
Each home insurance policy is different, and understanding the language of your current policy is the key to knowing how, when, and to what extent you’ll be covered. For example, some things to look for in your policy are:
- What forms of direct and subsequent damage are covered? (Ex: Wind/Hail, acts of nature, and accidental events)
- Does it cover wear and tear?
- Does coverage stop or become limited after your roof reaches a certain age? (Typically 20 years)
- What records are you required to keep in regard to your roof? (Photos, warranties, reports, etc.)
- How much is your deductible?
As a homeowner, you likely have certain responsibilities to ensure your claim is accepted such as regular maintenance/inspections and timely filing after an incident occurs. Without knowing the details of your policy, this is easy to overlook, so make sure to read it over, call your insurance company with any questions, and if necessary, find a new insurance policy with better coverage.
Another thing to look for is whether your insurance company uses ACV (Actual Cash Value) or RCV (Replacement Cash Value) to pay for claims. ACV factors in the age of your roof and subtracts the amount your insurance will pay based on the current value of your roof. Keep in mind that this is in addition to your deductible, and can leave you with significant out of pocket costs if you have an older roof. RCV coverage on the other hand, covers the full cost of replacing your roof regardless of age, minus your deductible.
After you familiarize yourself with your homeowner’s insurance policy, the first step in filing a claim is to schedule an inspection with a reputable, local roofing company. The fact that they are reputable is extremely important. Especially after storms, it’s not uncommon for unlicensed contractors to solicit work at low prices and perform subpar work with cheap materials. Not only can this void warranties, but if your roof fails shortly after work is completed, any additional claims will likely be denied.
When researching roofing companies it’s important to note there are certain differences between scheduling an inspection for your annual inspection or pre-determined out of pocket work vs. scheduling an inspection with the intention of filing a claim. One of the main differences is receiving multiple estimates. While this may be standard practice when paying out of pocket to compare expenses, it can become a disadvantage for insurance work as insurance companies may choose to accept the lowest bid. For example, if you submit a lower bid from one company, but decide to hire a different roofing company that you feel more comfortable with, you may end up covering the difference.
Additionally, make sure to receive and maintain accurate reports and documentation of all correspondences with your roofing contractor. This can include photos, satellite or drone imagery with timestamps, and written estimates with specific line items for damages. These will go a long way in convincing the insurance adjuster that the suggested replacement costs are accurate and minimize the chance for disputes. Even if you are simply scheduling an annual inspection or maintenance repairs, having accurate records will eventually help your claim be approved when the need arises.
Once you receive an estimate from your roofing contractor, it’s time to begin the claim process by contacting your insurance company and receiving a claim number. After receiving your claim number, it’s likely that an Insurance Adjuster will be scheduled to visit your home to verify the extent of the damage and assess for themselves whether or not they agree with the estimate put forth by the roofing company. When you schedule your appointment with the Insurance Adjuster, contact your roofing contractor and ask them to meet your adjuster on site. This will allow them to explain their estimate in case the Insurance Adjuster disagrees with something, which can save a lot of back and forth and delays in your claim being approved.
If you have any questions about materials, now would also be a great time to speak with both your roofing contractor and Insurance Adjuster to identify what materials could potentially provide discounts on your insurance premiums.
In the case that a dispute arises between your roofing contractor and Insurance Adjuster that cannot be resolved through discussion, it may be necessary to involve a Public Adjuster. A Public Adjuster is an independent insurance professional that can help settle claim disputes by providing an unbiased opinion. However, while an Insurance Adjuster is provided at no cost to you by the insurance company, a Public Adjuster is an additional cost that the homeowner will be required to cover regardless of the results. So before bringing on a Public Adjuster, compare the difference in your claim to what the Public Adjuster charges to identify whether or not it’s worth it.
Replacing Your Roof
After the Insurance Adjuster assesses the damage to your roof, you will often get a check in the amount of the actual cash value, whether you have ACV coverage or RCV coverage. This is in part an incentive to use the money to actually fix your roof, but it’s also due to a common need for supplement payments. While a roof inspection accounts for surface damage, it’s common to find hidden damage that isn’t discoverable until your roofing contractor actually begins work on your roof. If you have RCV coverage, the difference between the ACV amount and the total cost of replacement will be covered by the insurance company in the form of a 2nd check. If you have ACV coverage, the initial check will be the total amount you receive.
In some cases, the checks you receive from the insurance company may also include the name of the mortgage company. This is to protect the interests of the mortgage company who is using the home as collateral. If you receive money to replace the roof and spend it on something other than the roof, this ultimately impacts the mortgage company by reducing the value of the home. In order to avoid issues with your mortgage company, it’s best to schedule the replacement as soon as possible after receiving the ACV check. However, even if the check is addressed solely to you, or you don’t have a mortgage on your home, there’s the possibility that additional damage can be incurred during the delay, which can result in the need to reassess your roof. So don’t wait to schedule the replacement!
In some cases, your roof may need to be replaced but your home insurance policy doesn’t cover roofs, or you file a claim and it’s denied. A claim can be denied for a number of reasons, but the end result is the homeowner being stuck with the full cost of the roof replacement. Waiting to replace a failing roof can lead to much more expensive repairs, but not all homeowners have the ability to pay the amount of a replacement upfront. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do to help reduce or manage the costs.
The first thing we suggest is checking your manufacturer and installation warranties. If your roof is failing due to defective materials or is caused by installation issues, there’s a chance that some of the repair costs will be covered by either the manufacturer or the roofing company that installed your roof. This is why it’s so important to maintain accurate records and partner with companies that stand behind their work. Also, keep in mind that this is a viable first option even if you do have the possibility of having your claim covered by insurance, as taking advantage of warranties can prevent your insurance premiums from increasing.
Another option is financing. Some roofing companies, Brahma Roofing & Construction included, offer financing options for their clients. With this, you have the opportunity to lower upfront costs and spread payments out so they are more manageable for your financial needs.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak with your roofing contractor about your budget. If we are aware of your budget we can work with you to select more cost-effective materials, or even provide alternative repairs that while not as comprehensive as a complete replacement, can provide effective protection to your home – allowing you time to save for a full roof replacement.
Full-Service Insurance Assistance
Insurance claims can seem overwhelming, but understanding your home insurance policy as to how it relates to your roof and how to utilize it can save you thousands of dollars in repairs. Knowing each step of the insurance claims process, as outlined in this guide, will give you the tools you need to keep your home protected by utilizing the benefits of your home owner’s policy to cover the majority of the costs of a full roof replacement.
Because filing your claim correctly is essential to receiving the full amount of coverage you’ll need for quality repairs, we highly recommend hiring a roofing company that has experience working with insurance companies. Homeowners that work with Brahma Roofing and Construction to file their claim receive multiple benefits such as accurate estimates that are constructed using the same software used by 22 of the top 25 property insurance companies in the U.S., our network of local insurance adjusters, and our decades of experience filing claims of all shapes and sizes. If it makes you more comfortable, we are even happy to communicate directly with the insurance company on your behalf. Our goal is to simplify the insurance process as much as possible and ensure no homeowners miss out on coverage due to the complexities of the insurance process.
If you have any further questions about navigating insurance claims for your residential roof, or would like to work with us to help get your claim approved, contact us or schedule your free inspection today!