There are few things that can cause you as much hassle as having a roof that’s sustained damage after a storm. For those of us who’ve had to go through that experience, though, the next, equally tiresome thing you’d have to deal with is having to file an insurance claim to get your roof fixed. It’s certainly a hassle to get the paperwork – as well as all the related activities – done, while your roof stands damaged and unable to protect your home.
IT PAYS TO KNOW: Storm damage is a serious concern
More than just a matter of getting the claim done, however, is having the claim done right. The last thing you want is an improper valuation of the claim on your roof. If your roof has suffered storm damage, then you need to make sure that not only is the insurance claim processed promptly and in good time, but also that it represents an accurate picture of the kind and extent of damage your roof has sustained.
Things to look out for: important signs of roof damage
Foremost in filing the claim should be describing the details of your roof’s condition as thoroughly and as meticulously as possible. That’s the kind of job that involves actually going up on your roof and looking for all the little nitpicky things that might suggest a problem, either now or in the future. That’s not your job, however – that is something best left to roof inspection professionals. Instead, while waiting for the roofing inspector to come, you can look for telltale signs that can help him in finding what might be wrong with your roof.
All that’s really needed is to take a ground-level survey of your home from the outside, a good look at both your ceilings and walls, and a quick trip to the attic. Some things are clear indicators that there are current or incipient problems with your roof, and you can point these out to the insurance assessor or roofing professional who inspects your roof.
SIGNS TELL: Visible signs of storm damage
Leaks and water damage can often be spotted despite not having an actual leak. Check your ceilings and your attic for leaks and water stains. Either is a clear sign that water is penetrating into your home from the outside.
Check the ground for signs of storm damage. You might not be able to actually see the damage from the ground, but if you see things such as fallen shingles, metal pieces from the flashing on your roof and other elements, then those are pretty good hints that something’s up with your roof.
Naturally, if you can actually see that you have missing shingles on the roof, or cracked and broken sections in the case of slate, tile, or concrete, then you have visual confirmation of damage to your roof. In the case of a recent hail storm, you might be able to spot bruising or denting in your roof’s shingles; if that is the case, then the extent of the hail damage will need to be determined.
Visible dents in your roof vents, flashing, and gutters are also indicators of roof damage. Additionally, an accumulation of shingle granules in the gutters or downspouts definitely means something’s up with the shingles on the roof. Some granules showing up is to be expected, but a lot of them all at the same time suggests something out of the ordinary.
Structural damage can be clear to see after a storm, or you’ll likely find reasonably good signs for suspecting such. Actual damage is, of course, a definite sign, but even if you can’t see anything apparent, if a tree branch, or an actual tree, fell on your roof during the storm then you need to have the extent of the damage, if any, checked by a professional assessor.
While you’re giving your home a once-over, make sure to list the damage you see and, if you can, take pictures of it. This will not only help to support your insurance claim later on, but can also help to speed up the inspection of your roof. As well, it’s always good to have your own documentation of the damage, in addition to whatever else the roof inspector will later give you.
A good practice to get into is to take photos of your property, to use as comparative documentation, when everything is all fixed up and in good condition. Should you ever need to provide a comparison between “before” and “after,” such documentation will come in handy.
Contacting an inspector
INSPECT FIRST: Roof inspections are an important part of the claims process
Even with a clear idea of what’s going on with your home, you should still contact a roof inspector to check your roof out. Typically, this will be a professional roofing contractor. Depending on their particular company policy, they may charge you for the inspection, or they may provide it for free; companies usually take the opportunity after the inspection to offer you a quote on the cost of repairing your roof. Offering you a free inspection is simply a way to drum up business.
While the inspector is there, make sure to give him as detailed an account as possible of the exact circumstances that led to the damage to your roof, and share any documentation you were able to collect. Be very clear, however, that you are only asking him to inspect the roof, and that you are not signing up for roof repairs yet. Whatever else you do, don’t let him pressure you into signing any contracts.
Be very careful of inspection reports from roof inspectors that require you to sign them. Look for clauses that state that, in the event that the insurance claim is approved, you will hire the contractor’s company to do the repairs. Signing such a contract (because that’s what this is) will take away your ability to choose another contractor to do the repairs for you. Among the things to look out for are: a cancellation fee based on the assessed cost of repairing the roof; mention of a valid and binding agreement should the insurance company pay you for your loss; insurance payments to be made to the inspecting company; and appointing the company as your agent in dealing with your insurance.
Getting your roof inspected so that you can file an insurance claim is a necessary part of the insurance claim process. It may seem like a bit of an imposition on you, especially after you’ve already suffered damage, but remember that this is not to determine if your roof has sustained damage; rather, it’s an attempt to get an accurate picture of just how much damage your roof has sustained. An accurate inspection is an invaluable tool in making sure that your roof will once again be in the right shape to keep you and your home protected from the elements.
Colin Clark is the Principal Owner and President of Dynamic Roofing Concepts, Inc. Built on a foundation of honesty, integrity, professionalism, and dedication, for over 40 years the company has offered affordable and high quality roofing in Brandon, Tampa, and nearby cities in Florida.