Imagine your roof gets struck by hail, is torn apart by high winds, or suffers a blow from a falling tree. It isn’t fun to think about, but it’s good to be prepared in case it ever happens.
That’s why you pay for insurance — you hope you never have to use it, but you want to have it just in case. While having insurance is far less stressful than paying for a new roof out of pocket, sometimes filing a claim can feel overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the money you need to fix your roof.
Luckily, the insurance process for repairing or replacing a damaged roof doesn’t have to be intimidating or exhausting. Once you understand how it works, it isn’t as hard as it first appears. Let’s walk through everything you need to know so you’re ready when the day comes that you need to make that call.
If you suspect your roof may be damaged, you can inspect your property yourself to get an idea of the condition. But before you get up on a ladder, start by examining things from the ground. If a recent storm has damaged other parts of your property (cars, mailboxes, trees, windows, etc.), chances are that your roof is in similar condition.
If there is damage evident, it might be time to file a claim with your insurance company. Typically your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover damages that occur suddenly or happen due to unpreventable circumstances. These include things like:
Most often if a roof is damaged, you’ll use your homeowner’s insurance to cover the repairs. But depending on what caused the damage and what your policy covers for your area, you may need to use another type of insurance.
That said, a large portion of roof damage claims (40%) are the direct result of either wind or hail damage. Because of this, insurance companies created wind/hail damage as a specific category of coverage to prevent losing too much money on these claims. There are likely other types of roof coverage outlined in your policy, but wind/hail coverage is the most common.
Within this category, insurance policies typically offer three types of coverage:
It’s also important to note that each type of coverage will require you to pay a deductible before you receive a payout. A deductible is the amount you (the homeowner) are responsible for paying. This amount is usually deducted from the amount your insurance pays out for the project. So if you’re covered for $10,000 and you have a $1,000 deductible, your insurance will likely only give you $9,000.
Repair coverage is exactly like it sounds. After you pay your deductible, it only covers the cost of repairs. If your home has only minor damages, this may be all you need to fix the issue and bring your roof back up to code. If your roof needs a full replacement, you still might get some money. However, it likely won’t be enough to cover the whole project.
Actual Cash Value (ACV) coverage is a form of replacement coverage, but with one major restriction. With ACV coverage, the money you receive for a replacement project is adjusted based on the age and current market value of your roof.
For example, let’s say your roof replacement job is going to cost $10,000. If you have a $1,000 deductible, you will still pay that amount. But let’s say your insurance company values your roof at only $7,000 due to its age. This means you’ll pay a total of $3,000 (your deductible + the remaining cost of the project) out of pocket to complete the job.
While ACV coverage does help with some of the cost, having this policy isn’t the ideal solution for every home (especially if your roof is older).
Replacement coverage is the most ideal type of wind and hail protection to have. With this coverage, your insurance company will pay the full amount to replace your roof (aside from your deductible).
For example, let’s say your roofing project costs $10,000. If your deductible is $1,000, that’s all you pay. Your insurance company should send you a check for the remaining $9,000 to pay for the project.
While every policy is different in what it covers, there are certain scenarios that aren’t covered by most insurance policies. Read through your policy and check with local legislation to be sure about your situation. Here are a few things that are usually excluded:
Now that you understand the types of coverage you may have, let’s walk through the process step by step so you know what to expect.
If a storm comes through and you suspect your roof was damaged, take a look around your roof from the ground level. If you can safely climb up onto a ladder, you can do a preliminary inspection of the roof yourself. Depending on the issues, you may realize it’s unsafe to remain in your home until repairs are complete. If this is the case, it’s best to move your family to another location such as a hotel or a friend’s house while you follow the rest of these steps. In extreme cases, you may need to call emergency services to make sure the situation is controlled safely.
While a tree lying over the middle of your roof is easy to notice, other types of damage may not be. No matter what you find in your initial inspection, calling a professional roofing company to inspect your roof is essential. By hiring a trusted roofer, you can understand the damage from someone with a trained eye. They should also provide you with further guidance about whether you need to replace your roof or simply repair it. In some cases, your chosen roofing company may be able to handle the entire insurance claim process for you.
Before you agree to sign anything, be sure to review your policy to know what kind of damage it covers. Either way, you’ll most likely want to use your insurance to cover at least some of the costs. However, it’s good to know what kind of payout you’re most likely to receive from the insurance company so you can prepare. You may need to read through additional parts of your policy if your roof is affected by something other than wind or hail. If you need help understanding your policy, you may decide to call your insurance company for help. Otherwise, if your chosen roofer offers insurance claim services, you may ask them to help you understand your coverage.
Once you know the scope of the roofing project and what type of coverage you’re working with, it’s time to call the insurance company.
Tell them that you want to file a claim and describe the type of damage and the scope of the replacement scenario. At this stage, it’s wise to inform your insurance agent that you’ve already hired a roofing company to do an inspection and assist with the insurance process if that’s the case. The insurance company will then schedule an appointment (usually within 72 hours) for an adjuster to inspect your roof as well.
If your insurance company asks you to get multiple estimates from different roofing companies, be aware that you don’t have to do that. While they may be adamant about it, they can’t require you to get multiple bids. Most often, insurance companies will end up approving the cheapest option because it helps their bottom line.
Instead, focus on choosing a roofing company that does the best quality work. A roofer that charges more for a high-quality roofing job will provide your home with more value over all. Your insurance adjuster will need to work with the roofer to accept liability for the project. In other words, your policy should allow you to choose the best contractor, not just what your insurance company “allows.” They are responsible for paying out the amount necessary to fix your roof according to what’s in your policy.
When the insurance adjuster arrives, they will do a roof inspection just like the roofing company. However, their goal is to adjust the scope and price of the initial inspection according to their own assessment.
Be aware that insurance adjusters and roofing contractors often disagree because they have different interests. While the insurance company is trying to save money, the roofing company wants to make sure they can do the job correctly — which often means charging more money for things like bringing the roof up to code, high-quality materials, and safety equipment.
With that in mind, don’t always take the insurance adjuster’s opinion about the situation as pure fact. Insurance companies train their employees and spend billions of dollars on public relations to persuade people to believe their claim options are limited. This ultimately lowers the amount they have to pay out because many homeowners simply trust whatever they say. That’s why it’s important to know your policy and hold your insurance company accountable for what they agreed to in writing.
After some debating and negotiating, your insurance company should finally agree on the scope of the project and the amount they will pay out.
Before the job begins, you’ll need to pay your deductible directly to the roofing company. Remember, this is the portion of the cost of the project that you (the homeowner) are responsible for paying. Often, the insurance company will rely on you to pay the deductible on your own and send you a check for the rest. However, they may want proof that you paid it before sending you the first check.
Be aware that some roofing contractors will offer to waive your deductible as a way of sweetening the deal. But if this is part of their offer, they probably aren’t a legitimate business. Not only is this a form of insurance fraud, but the fact that a roofer is willing to cut corners in this area means they will probably cut corners with your roofing job as well. Contractors who try to win your business by offering the lowest bid are often making up for that cost by using lower-quality materials or unqualified workers. They may also try to complete the repairs without a building permit, which can cause problems in the long run if the job doesn’t go well.
Once you pay your deductible, your insurance company will send you an initial check to pay for the job. You’ll usually use this check (along with the deductible) to put a down payment on the project or pay for it all up front. If you have ACV coverage, you will probably only receive one check. The rest will be your responsibility. If you have replacement coverage, you will most likely get the other part of the payout after the job is complete.
After all these steps, it’s time to schedule the job with the roofing company of your choice. They will then come to your home and repair or replace your roof according to the scope you agreed on.
However, be mindful that once the roofer starts the job, they may find issues that weren’t clear in the inspection. For example, they may start tearing off the old shingles and realize the plywood decking underneath is bad. They’ll need to replace that to make sure your roof doesn’t fall apart in a few years. Other times, you may decide to replace your gutters or skylights if they were damaged due to the same event.
If your roof requires these additional repairs, you will want to reach back out to your insurance company to discuss the changes. Either way, be sure to send them a copy of the invoice once the project is complete. The final cost may be higher than the initial estimate.
At this stage, your insurance company should send you a second check to cover the rest of the job. You’ll then give this to the roofing company to finish paying for the project.
If by some chance the insurance company gave you more money for that specific project, than necessary, don’t use the extra money to pay for anything else. That’s considered insurance fraud. To mitigate this risk, some insurance companies may ask you to send them the invoice so they can pay the roofing company directly. This also creates less work for the homeowner and puts the responsibility of settling the claim in the company’s hands.
Remember: if you only have ACV coverage, you probably won’t get a second check. If the remaining amount of the job is too much to pay out of pocket, you may consider financing the rest of what you owe.
After the job is done, most insurance companies request proof that the job was completed according to scope. Be sure to send your insurance company any official documentation or proof that they request.
Now that your roof is replaced and the insurance process is complete, you can rest easy under your new roof.
Once you know how the insurance process works, it’s much easier to handle. But not everything always goes according to plan. Sometimes, insurance claims get denied for a variety of reasons.
Even if your claim gets denied or your insurance adjuster and the roofer don’t agree on scope or price, you still have plenty of room to negotiate. The main thing to remember is this: as long as you’re within the statute of limitations for your policy, a claim isn’t closed until a settlement is reached.
Insurance companies may seem too powerful to disagree with, but they still have rules to follow. Here are a few things you can do to get past a claim denial:
If you’re currently stressed out from dealing with roof damage — don’t worry. You’re not the only one. In order to get the insurance payout you need to replace your roof, it will take careful thought and persistence. However, you don’t have to do it alone.
Not many people are experts when it comes to insurance claims. Fewer people are experts in roofing. Luckily, we at Baltic Roofing are experts in both. We work with hundreds of different insurance companies every year to make sure homeowners get the job completed the way it needs to be done.
To avoid potential disagreements with the first roof inspection, you can call us first before you even file a claim. We’ll inspect your roof for damage and let you know the true condition. You may not even have to file a claim at all.
If you do have to file a claim, we’ll be available to support you throughout the process. When the adjuster shows up at your home to inspect the roof, we’ll meet them there to ensure the inspection is complete and accurate. Then, when it’s time to replace your roof, you can count on receiving quality work. We practice our craft in our office — not on your home.
Filing a claim for a damaged roof doesn’t have to give you a headache. Invest in a new roof you can trust to last for many years to come.
Learn why roof decking (or roof sheathing) is a key part of your home, the difference between plywood and OSB, and how to inspect your roof for signs of damage.