Almost every time we speak to a new client regarding their hail damage insurance claim, our clients tell us that the insurance company representative told them some variation of one or more of the below statements. Unfortunately, insurance company adjusters have a habit of trying to convince property owners that they have “no business” filing legitimate hail damage claims, and even try to convince the hapless homeowners to drop their claims. We’ve put together the below list of insurance company representations and have pointed out the truth underlying these misstatements.
1. “Since you don’t have much damage, you shouldn’t file a claim” – In reality, if you have any damage whatsoever from a covered cause of loss, you have the absolute right to place a claim with your insurance company for the repair of this damage. Moreover, even if the damage to your roof may not seem severe at the moment, if left un-repaired, it may eventually lead to additional leaks and problems down the road – which could end up costing substantially more to repair. Better to get the repairs taken care of immediately so that additional subsequent damage can be avoided.
2. “If you file a claim, your insurance company will cancel your policy” – In fact, most states have laws which specifically prohibit insurance companies from cancelling a policy solely because of the insured’s placement of a claim. Not only is the insurance company prohibited from taking this action, the insurance company might be exposing itself to a claim for bad faith claims handling as well.
3. “Since it doesn’t look like you’ve lost any roof shingles, you must not have any hail damage.” – This is one of the most common statements, and is really a total misdirection. Missing shingles are usually related to wind damage claims (hurricanes, tropical storms, etc.), and are not an absolute indicator of hail related damage. A roof may be substantially damaged by hail, even though the actual shingles appear to still be in place after the storm. Furthermore, the damage may not cause leaking until well after the storm. Therefore, it is crucial to have a qualified expert examine your roof after a storm to fully evaluate the damage to your property.
4. “If you file a claim, your insurance rates will go up.” Let’s be honest, if a storm or other large weather event comes through your area, the insurance company is going to raise everyone’s rates anyway. So if your insurance premiums go up and you are the only person on your block who didn’t file a claim, your increased premium dollars will just be used for paying everyone else’s claims and not yours.
5. “You should place a claim with your manufacturer’s warranty/home builder/building contractor for this damage.” – The reality is that most manufacturer’s warranties specifically exclude damage caused to your roofing shingles by hail. Furthermore, home builders and contractors will only be liable for faulty workmanship or failure of the products and services they provided as part of the scope of their employment. Absent some specific (and hard to imagine) language in a home builder’s contract that states that the builder agrees to be liable for acts of nature which occur after the home is built, there would be no cause of action against the building contractor for hail damage.
6. “Since you didn’t notify us immediately after the hail incident, you cannot make a claim.” – Although there may be various limitations under law or in your policy which govern the time frame within which you must place your claim, such limitations usually allow ample time to make your claim and do not mandate that your claim is automatically barred if you didn’t notify the insurance company the day after the event. Although it is important to consult with a legal professional as to what limitations may exist in your policy or under the laws of your state, the process recognizes that it may take a while to fully become aware of the damage and to notify your insurance company of same.
Always keep in mind that the individual the insurance company sends to initially inspect your damage is either an employee of the insurance company or an outside adjuster who relies upon the insurance company for his standard of living. Although usually these representatives do their best to honor the insurance company’s obligations to you, do yourself a favor and never forget who butters this person’s bread. If you have any doubts about whether you are getting a fair shake from your insurance company, please feel free to call our office.