- Review your policy. What does your policy cover? Replace vs upgrades.
If you have roof damage that may involve filing an insurance claim, it is very important to review your policy and understand what will be covered by your insurance provider. There are a number of different types of homeowners insurance policies that vary on coverage. For example, you should know if your policy covers the Actual Cost Value or Replacement Cost Value. It is important to familiarize yourself with your specific coverages and the terminology that is often used to describe how your policy protects your home. Knowing this information ahead of time will set you up for success and ensure you have the right expectations going into the claim process. Make note of your financial responsibility as well. Hail, wind, and a hurricane can all have different out of pocket costs for you, familiarize yourself with the terms of your specific policy.
- Take the appropriate steps to protect your home now.
Depending on the severity of your damage, there may be some precautionary measures needed to protect your home from further damage. If the roof damage incurred results in a small waterfall in your kitchen every time it rains, it's probably a good idea to tarp it. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility and is in your best interest to mitigate additional damage as much as possible. If you are not able to tarp your roof yourself, you should be able to get in touch with a roofing contractor who will gladly take care of your roof for you. Also, after a major storm, FEMA is a great resource for getting a tarp installed or acquiring a free tarp to install yourself if you have an active leak.
- Take ownership of your claim.
You are the captain of this ship and you deserve to be in charge. Handing over the reins to a roofing contractor may lead you down a path of ambiguity, frustration, and possible exploitation. UPPA laws state that your contractor should not “handle” your insurance claim for you. If you would like to have someone take over the process on your behalf, you must hire a public adjuster or an attorney. If your roofing contractor is not empowering you to make the best decisions for your home and your family, you should reconsider hiring them for the job. You are entering a legal contract with your insurance company and a roofing contractor. You should be responsible for your situation and fully understand what you are agreeing to.
- Am I committing insurance fraud? Avoid shopping around.
Once you have an approved insurance claim, it is in your best interest to approach the contractor selection process as a job interview as opposed to an auction going to the lowest bidder. You should not be shopping around for the “best deal” for many reasons, but one that really stands out is that you could be in danger of unknowingly committing insurance fraud. When you are at the point in the claim process where your insurance company has determined how much they will pay for your roof replacement and you have accepted that amount, you have entered a legally binding contract with your insurance provider and any savings on the cost of your roof replacement is for them to keep. There have been a number of cases in Florida where homeowners have collected insurance claim checks, paid less than the claim amount for a roof replacement, pocketed the difference, and been sued by their insurance company for fraud. Outside of the fear of lawsuits, another reason for this approach is that when you interview contractors for the job of replacing your roof, your conversations should be centered around qualifications, experience, system warranties, customer service, and materials. Treating the hiring process more like a job interview will help you find the contractor that will fit your specific needs and make your roof replacement as enjoyable as possible.
- Make sure your contractor and insurance company are on the same page.
You may find yourself in a situation where your insurance agent and your roofing contractor do not agree on the scope of work or how much your roof repair should cost. It is important to remember that both your insurance company and roofing contractor work for you. They are providing you a service and if there is a disconnect, you may not be receiving the service you deserve. Make sure all of your insurance company’s expectations are being met by your contractor as well. For example, if your insurance company requires thorough documentation of any unforeseen additions to the scope of work such as wood replacement. Ask your contractor how they plan on making sure these requirements are met throughout the replacement process.
- Make sure your contractor has your interests in mind.
One good question to ask your roofing contractor is how does their insurance claim roof replacement process differ from their standard retail process. Outside of the filing of your claim and ensuring that your insurance company and roofing contractor agree on a scope of work that you approve of, this should be like every other retail roof replacement. Your contractor should be documenting every step of the process, offering you all the available products they recommend, and all for a fair price. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who writes the check to your roofing contractor, the work should be exactly the same as any other job.