Storm Damage Insurance Questions

large hole in a shingle roof

Understanding Homeowner’s Insurance

I can attest to the concerns and doubts, fears, and questions about filing a roof insurance claim. It is not a simple process if you aren’t already well-versed in the world of insurance. What I thought to be just a few loose or missing shingles has grown into a full-blown new roof and new siding. 

While my roofing issue was small in comparison to what many others have experienced, we have answers to frequently asked questions. Questions like, “Should I call my insurance or roofer first?” It may seem surprising, but you want to call the person that can help you the best in an emergency, aka, the roofing contractor. 

Your first concern as a homeowner should be protecting your property. So, when you wake up to a roof leak in your home, an experienced roofing contractor can assess the damage and patch the roof. Once the roofing contractor has provided you with a written estimate that summarizes the problem, then it’s time to call the insurance company and file your roof insurance claim. 

How do storm damage insurance claims work?

Contact your insurance company after immediate actions have been taken to minimize any more damage by you or a roofing contractor and so you have the contractor’s estimate. They will assign your roof insurance claim to an adjuster. The adjuster will schedule an appointment with you to inspect the roof and other possible storm damage. Ask your roofing contractor to be present if possible during the adjuster’s inspection. 

The adjuster will plug the numbers and information they have obtained into their system. They will review your policy and then send you a breakdown of what the insurance company has found and what they will pay, or not pay. These numbers are what will get confusing about the roof insurance claim for most homeowners. 

What should you not say to an insurance adjuster?

For a homeowner, filing a roof insurance claim is often a first-time event. For insurance adjusters, they deal with distressed homeowners daily. It isn’t unusual for the two parties to clash. 

As a homeowner, you want to be honest with the insurance adjuster. Stay on task with the damage at hand, nothing happened previous to filing your roof insurance claim. Be on time and courteous and provide any documentation and pictures you have acquired. If your roofing contractor isn’t able to attend the meeting, provide them a copy of the estimate your contractor gave you. 

What happens if you disagree with an insurance adjuster?

And can you negotiate with insurance adjusters? Once you have received the insurance adjuster decision on your roof insurance claim, that doesn’t have to be the final decision. If you do not agree with their evaluation, or if you and the inspector did not “click”, you can require another adjuster and inspection. 

If you feel the adjuster’s findings aren’t accurate, remember, they are human, and humans make mistakes. Even if they’re plugging numbers into a system, they can make mistakes. You can also hire an independent adjuster that isn’t employed with your homeowner’s insurance company. 

If you don’t agree with the second insurance adjuster, hire a structural engineer to inspect the house. If the engineer finds things not on the insurance adjusters report, they should provide your insurance company their proof. Next, request they review your roof insurance claim. 

How do insurance companies pay for roof damage?

Wind and hail storms have increased in Texas in recent years, resulting in homeowner’s insurance companies now favoring ACV (Actual Cash Value) instead of RCV (Replacement Cost Value). This also results in a lower premium, but when a disaster hits, most homeowners are without sufficient financial resources when they file a roof insurance claim for any roof repairs, or worse, a roof replacement. 

With an ACV policy, your homeowner’s insurance policy will pay you for the actual cash value of the roof when you file a roof insurance claim, less your deductible. This means the actual cash value, less your deductible and less the depreciation cost based on the roof age. In general, the older the roof, the higher the amount depreciated and not covered. 

With an RCV policy, your homeowner’s insurance company pays the replacement cost value of the roof when you file a roof insurance claim. This means the insurance company pays for replacement cost value minus the deductible. Depreciation is not deducted. 

To explain the difference, we offer the following. Neighbor A and Neighbor B have the exact same size of home, of the same age, and both owners have recently filed a roof insurance claim. The difference is Neighbor A’s homeowner’s insurance policy is ACV coverage and Neighbor B’s homeowners’ insurance has RCV coverage. This means Neighbor A is receiving the amount necessary to replace the roof, while Neighbor B is only receiving the cash value of the roof on their home. 

End of the story: Neighbor B received $14,000 from their homeowner’s insurance company. Neighbor A received only $4,000 from their homeowner’s insurance. Depreciation is the difference and the older a roof, the higher the depreciation. 

How long does an insurance company have to settle a homeowner’s claim?

In Texas, insurance companies are required to respond to roof insurance claims within 15 days. In turn, homeowners have 15 days to accept or reject the insurance company’s decisions. 

Does homeowners’ insurance cover storm damage tree removal?

Coverage will depend on what caused the tree to collapse and where it landed. Examples: 

  • A storm blows a tree on your home, or any structure on your property, and tree removal is covered. 
  • A storm blows a tree in your yard, but nothing is damaged; tree removal is not covered.
  • If a tree collapses on your property from an aircraft, explosion, fire, lightning, riot, theft, vandalism, or a vehicle you do not own, the tree removal will be covered regardless of where it landed on your property. 
tree fallen onto a home's roof

Last Question: Can I claim roof repairs on my insurance?

Again, it will depend on the age of the roof. You’ll also need to take into consideration your deductible. If you have a $500 deductible and a repair is simply replacing 2-3 shingles, you’ll be better off not filing a roof insurance claim.