Severe weather season has officially reared its ugly head. We were reminded of this Sunday night with the hail storm that went through North Texas. This week, many residents are dealing with hail damage to their roofs and cars, while reacquainting themselves with their insurance policies. If you are planning on making a hail claim soon, follow these five tips when dealing with your insurance company.
1. Inspect your entire property and document damage.
We all know roofs are infamous for being vulnerable to hail damage. For this reason they probably get the most attention after severe weather. Hire a professional contractor to evaluate your roof after a major weather event and don’t stop at your roof. Homeowners often fail to remember that siding, windows, air conditioner units and other structures, like sheds or barns, are also susceptible to hail and wind damage. Take pictures of the damage to your property to share with your adjuster and record dates. This can speed up the claim process.
2. Make immediate, necessary repairs to prevent further damage.
When a major weather event occurs that results in damage to your home or property, sometimes it is necessary to take precautions right away to prevent further damage and to protect your property from further damage. Boarding up broken windows and covering up other damaged areas that offer entry ways for water and small animals will prevent further, more extensive damage. Doing so will also protect the actual damage incurred from the storm, making the adjuster’s job easier.
3. Once you’ve established a hail claim is necessary, call your insurance carrier as soon as possible.
Insurance companies have a statue of limitations for claims. Many carriers will give you up to a year from the date of the event to make a hail claim. Some, however, will give you as little as 30 days. Know the claim guidelines of your particular policy and do not wait. Should you claim any and every type of damage sustained? No. If the repairs you need to make will cost less than your deductible, you might be better off paying for the repairs out of pocket. Keep in mind that claims make your insurance rates go up. Many companies will penalize or drop you if you make too many home claims in one year.
4. Repair major damage promptly and save receipts.
A professional roofing contractor can determine what repairs need to be made.
Resist the urge try to diagnose damage yourself. Many professional roofers offer free estimates, so getting more than one opinion does not have to be costly. Do your homework before you hire a professional to repair your roof after a hail storm. A professional contractor inspects roofs daily and for this reason, they are more knowledgeable about what damage looks like on all levels. They are also more familiar with climbing high ladders. Don’t risk your health to save a few dollars. Putting off repairs, even small ones that may seem minor, can and will turn into bigger problems that cost even more money down the road. Keep all your receipts and invoices when making a hail claim. This will help further the credibility of the claim with your carrier, and it will help to speed up the claim process.
5. Review your policy and ask questions.
Take time to review your policy. If you do not understand your coverage limits call your carrier and ask. Insurance companies take special care to hire and train people for the sole purpose of understanding and explaining insurance coverage details to consumers. Take advantage of this service you are paying for. Take note of any changes with your policy and don’t just look your premium. Know what your deductible is. A 1% deductible on a $350,000 home is a lot less than a 3% deductible. That translates to $7,000 more out of your pocket. Be proactive and reevaluate your coverage before your renewal date each year to ensure you make the necessary changes to save you money and minimize your losses when the next hail storm sweeps through your neighborhood.