While we have no control over when or where a hail storm strikes, you can still be proactive to mitigate your damages. Below are a few links to insurance carriers’ recommendations on how to be better prepared.
So, you have prepared as much as possible. The storm hits. What’s next? In my current role helping clients through claims, I see varying degrees of damages as well as industries impacted. Regardless of the industry you are in, a claim can be a stressful ordeal. Below are some actions to take.
- Check for damage immediately after the storm and don’t wait months to report it to your agent. By postponing, you may forget the exact date of the loss and risk delay in claim handling as claims are typically handled in the order they are received.
- Confirm there is damage and find out your deductible amount before filing a claim. Have a reliable roofer confirm there is actual damage sustained and the damage exceed the deductible before filing a claim.
- Allow the adjuster to inspect the damage before starting the repairs. The burden of proof falls on you to make a case as to what amount should be paid by the carrier if the repairs are already completed prior to the inspection.
- Know your agent’s role when retaining a public adjuster (PA). Retaining a public adjuster is in essence retaining an attorney. Once you have decided to retain a PA, your agent’s hands are tied.
- Set realistic expectations. The direction of the hail can impact how much damage is sustained. If there are only certain areas impacted, the carrier may opt to repair those damage vs. replacing the entire roof.
Shawn Webb, a Travelers’ adjuster with over 19 years of property claims experience, gives this piece of advice, “Hail does not equal damage. Many insureds think that if their neighbor has hail damage to their roof, they will have hail damage, also. That is not always the case. The neighbor may have a 15 or 20 year old roof and the insured’s roof may be 5 years old. The 15-20 year roof will be more susceptible to hail damage due to its age. Conversely, just because the insured’s neighbor does not have hail damage does not mean the insured should not check their roof for damage. Always check after hail.” (S. Webb, personal communication, February 21, 2019). So, just because your neighbor is getting a new roof does not mean you are entitled to a new roof.
“Until the membrane behind the shingle is broken, the shingle is still functional.” With over 14 years of auto and property claims handling experience, Doug Sexton, from Cincinnati wants to make the distinction between cosmetic vs. functional damage. The sloping of the roof can also impact what areas of the roof are damaged which then affects whether a roof is replaced or repaired
Caryn Nagel, Great American Divisional Assistant Vice President with over 13 years of claims experience, provides some helpful advice and tips.
- Prioritize: If you are a homebuilder and have 30 properties impacted by hail damage and 10 of those home are closing at the end of the month, Go ahead, submit a claim, and communicate with the adjuster regarding which properties need to be inspected first.
- Document– For new construction, some items an adjuster will request include construction budget (used to determine amount for profit and overhead), cost of construction, and original invoices (guide for adjuster regarding replacement cost). Since the policy states the carrier has the right to inspect the damage after a loss, take lots of pictures and even do a video of the damage if you are going to repair the damage prior to the adjuster’s inspection.
- Communicate: Be responsive and communicate with your adjuster. If you are being asked to provide certain documentations you don’t feel are relevant, ask why.
Nagel, Caryn . (2019, March 1). Phone interview.
Sexton, D. (2019, February 25). Phone interview.
Webb, S. (2019, February 21). Email interview.
Author: Abigail Jenkins serves as a senior claims advocate at Hotchkiss Insurance and has worked in the insurance industry for almost 10 years. She has achieved numerous professional designations including Associate in General Insurance (AINS), Associate in Claims (AIC), Charted Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), and is currently pursuing her Certified Insurance Counselor designation. She has worked both on the agency and carrier side which has provided her with working knowledge of risk management as well as claims handling.