Roofs are as vital to our homes and businesses as an engine is vital to a car. However, we’re not always as good to our roofs as we should be, most of this is because we can’t usually see what’s happening up there – but the other reason is that if we do find issues, it’s not immediately clear how to resolve them, or what to do to start an insurance claim.
Insurance is known for being somewhat of an issue for the general public. It’s known for raising rates in automobile accidents, or not being billed correctly in medical, or not covering everything when it’s needed, or having high deductibles. However, insurance for your roof is unlike those other fields, because it’s working with the goal of keeping a roof over your head, instead of trying to take money from you directly.
The most important thing you can do in regard to your roof, is get insurance for it. Between your insurance and the contractors that want your business, your roof will get repaired as quickly as it can be. The steps to get to that goal can be confusing and intimidating, but if you work with your insurance contacts and your trusted community contractors, you’ll be moving in the right direction. Here are some of the most important things to know about the topic, and some encouragement to go to professionals when it’s needed.
Homeowners insurance has a wide range of advantages and perks, one of those being roofing insurance. Most insurance companies worth their salt will have some type of insurance or clause involving roofs. This is because they are the most exposed portions of our homes, and so they are the first thing that begins to break down from weather, abuse, or aging.
There are generally two types of roofing insurance, although your particular policy may have more or less than this. Usually, there is a dwelling coverage, meaning an insurance helping to protect your home’s structure in case of damage, intense or minor. There is also coverage given for other sorts of structures on your property, things like sheds or garages. Depending on your policy you’ll find that a lot of weather is commonly covered in these insurances, including fires, winds, and hail – or falling trees.
What is not covered by insurance is general wear and tear. A leak caused by aged shingles would classify as not being covered, where a leak caused by hail damage could be fully covered. This is why it’s very important to know about your insurance, so that when damage happens you know where you stand. This is also why yearly or bi-annual roof inspections need to be a priority – finding and fixing issues can save a lot of heartache, time, and money. We always recommend doing a spring check of your roof, since after winter, things might have become damaged without you seeing it when it happened.
Roofing Contractors Insurance
Homeowners aren’t the only people who should be operating with insurance. Roofing contractors also have insurance tailored to their needs and the risks that come from their job. This type of insurance comes as a specific liability insurance that helps protect third parties, their client, and foot traffic. Some of the coverage will include a variation of the following:
- Bodily injuries: A nail gun goes off and tears a nail through the hand of the client: covered.
- Property damage: A ladder is unstable and falls backwards into the garden, crushing the client’s award-winning petunias: covered.
- Medical mishaps: Foot traffic is moving close to the work area, and a stranger bumps some scaffolding, due to this a toolbox comes down and hits them in the shoulder: covered.
It’s important for homeowners to know if their contractors have good insurance, and to what extent that insurance with cover for damages that could happen. Both for the sake of the client and for the lay person, these bits of information can change how a job is conducted, or impact if you even want to work with the contractors you’re considering working with.
Suspected Damage and Rate Concerns
Three common things come to mind when the general person thinks about roof damage:
- How do I know what damage looks like?
- Can I fix it myself, or do I need a contractor?
- What about my insurance rates?
Roof damage can have various looks, from missing shingles to mold, rust to low spots, or impact damage to warpage. A lot of these can be seen from the outside, and so can be easily diagnosed too. That hailstorm from two weeks ago could have left impact damage to the shingles, resulting in some missing or breaking off – or warping to create low spots which can collect water.
However, for all the easily identified issues that occur, there are also those issues which can only be found and treated by an experienced contractor. Some shingles can be reattached, but if done incorrectly they can create more issues later on. Duct tape and glue are great for in the home, but the roof is more the place of professionals, with all of their talents and training.
It’s normal to immediately think about insurance rates when considering whether or not to contact the insurance company, but it’s also important to know that roofing insurance is vastly different from car or other types of insurance. Roofing insurance being called upon does not raise a person’s rates – rather they are there only to help you get a payout from your insurance, to then use to repair your home. Insurance rates for roofing only raise if there has been a large storm and a significant amount of the neighborhood has been damaged because of that storm.
How to File an Insurance Claim
So, you’re a homeowner, you’ve lived in your house for only a few years, and the roof is relatively new still, only six or seven years old. But last night there was a big storm and that oak tree in the front yard, is now on top of the roof. There’s a lot that needs to be done, but where to start?
- Document the damage: The first and really, the most important step in the process, is documentation of the damage. You’ll want to take as many pictures as you can (time and date stamps included), videos, written details, anything that can document that there’s been significant changes. The more documents you have, the easier the claim process will be later, so inspect everything that you can.
- Types of damage: If you have a shingled roof, most damage is easily seen, as missing pieces, impact damage from hail, or low spots can be seen almost immediately. However, there are a lot of areas to inspect and a lot of them are hidden or not considered by the general public. Call around your local contractors and see if you can get a professional to come inspect the roof. Seasoned professionals will be able to identify hidden issues that could become bigger problems later on.
- Collect information and call your insurance: If you’re thinking about going to the insurance company to make a claim, you’ll save time and energy if you collect specific information about the roof before you call. Things like records of any minor repairs done prior, the documentation of the current damage, measurements of the roof and damaged areas, information about the event that caused the damage, and any sort of relevant dates and times.
- Save the receipts: Just like buying something and keeping the receipt “just in case” something goes wrong – you’ll want to keep your receipts, but you’ll want to keep them “just in case” the insurance company can reimburse you. Also, you’ll want to avoid having any work done on the roof until your claim is approved or denied – because some insurances will only work with particular contractors.
- Expect an insurance adjuster: After you file a claim, the insurance company may send out an insurance adjuster. He’ll take more photos and get more documentation (essentially repeating the documentation that you did earlier). He’ll then work with the insurance company to determine the amount of damage that is covered by the insurance.
- Avoid contingency contracts: Sometimes contractors offer a free inspection to give to your insurance company, under the commitment that you’ll only work with them from that point on. Avoid these sorts of contracts, as you may be getting trapped into paying more than you would with a better, more professional contractor. Use your insurance adjuster to help you pick a contractor that will help you, and never sign anything if you feel pressure.
- Know your appeal rights: Let’s say you do everything right, and your claim is still denied, or the payout is less than what you need for the repairs. You have a right to be able to hire a public adjuster, who can then do his own assessment of the damages, and report that to the insurance company. In this way, you can appeal a denied claim, and it might become accepted – or you may receive a larger payout from the insurance company.
- Prepare for the long-haul: This entire process from start to finish can feel like forever, or like people are dragging their feet because they don’t know how badly you need the repair. This is not the case. The process can take a while, but that is because it needs to be done correctly and legally, it’s not a matter of the contractor or your insurance not caring about your home. Save the receipts and try to make the most of your time until your claim is accepted.
Common Questions in the Indianapolis Area:
- Is it illegal for an Indianapolis roofer to pay your deductible?
- Yes, it is. Homeowners insurance policies are contracts created between you and the insurance company – contractors are not allowed to pay deductibles because they can then inflate the cost of the job and commit insurance fraud to keep that extra money. If a contractor is offering a “free roof” or a way to pay for the job, without you paying a deductible, there is an insurance game at play.
- How much should you pay an Indianapolis roofing contractor up front?
- As will most large-scale home updates, we always recommend placing a payment down before the job begins. The percentage down will depend on what is finalized between you and your contractor – but the 10 to 15 percent is the most common. Always avoid using cash in these instances, as card is easier to track and will give you a paper trail later on if you need it.
- What kind of insurance does an Indiana roofer need?
- As mentioned before, a good contractor should have a general liability insurance, but they should also have a workers’ compensation insurance. They might also have commercial vehicle insurance or tool and equipment insurance. There’s a lot of legal work that comes along with contractors, so chances are, the more insurances they have, the better they are at their jobs.
- Does homeowner insurance in Indiana cover roof damage?
- Most insurances will cover roof damage, as long as the damage is caused by nature, general wear and old age damage is not typically covered. That said, it’s different for all policies, so you’ll want to review yours to see exactly what is covered and what is not. Also, be sure to note if there are any sort of windows – with some policies you’ll have only a limited amount of time to file a claim.
- When do we claim roof damage on insurance?
- It’s always the best course of action to file a claim before fixing anything. Some insurance companies will require that you work with vetted, insurance-picked contractors, while in other cases the insurance company might completely replace the roof. If you’ve already repaired the roof, when you could have gotten a new one, it’ll be unfortunate for you and the contractors.