The reality is there may be certain types of claims that certain insurance companies will look at with much more scrutiny than if it were a different type of claim or yet another insurance company. For example, a home that caught fire that has a history of catching fire may be looked at for potential arson much closer than a first-time fire where the homeowners were out of town.
We’re not talking about clear examples, such as fires, today. I want to talk about roof claims. Roof claims are often some of them frustrating for homeowners because of the way insurance companies tend to handle them. It’s not unusual in a storm for a few shingles to come up or even come off all together depending on your type of roof. This could be minor damage that can be easily repaired, or this could become major systemic damage that will ruin the integrity of your entire roof, necessitating either major repairs or entire replacement. Insurance companies are aware of this. They do everything they possibly can to cut this issue off at the pass.
Many have internal policies that say if certain amounts of shingles are not lifted up from the roof, then it’s not considered to be substantial damage. Some even have exclusions that say that cosmetic damage is not covered, so they try to argue that a few lifted shingles are cosmetic damage.
Recently a high number of insurance companies have been retaining engineers who are beholden to the insurance companies to come out and say that there’s no significant damage or that the damage to the roof was caused by nothing more than wear and tear.
It’s very important if you have a roof claim to make sure that you have evaluated your roof either just before or in conjunction with the insurance company. Now, when evaluating a roof don’t do any damage to the roof, because if you do any damage to the roof before the insurance company can see the condition of the roof before the additional damage, they will claim that you ruined the scene. This is something that we call spoliation.
In having someone evaluate your roof, it’s important to look at several factors:
- What is the workmanship of the roof? It’s very common for insurance companies to claim that either the roof is old and has reached its usable life or that the contractor that installed the roof did subpar work and as such the loss is not covered. Looking at the workmanship of the roof. Someone with experience in roofing, whether it be a roofer, or an adjuster should come out and look at how the roof was installed and make sure that the roof was properly installed and document this.They should also look at the types of materials used on the roof and make sure that those materials still have some usable life. The materials on a roof may be graded to essentially need replacement after a certain period of time. A well-maintained roof might have a much longer period of life.
- Although this can be hard to do. It’s very ideal to pinpoint your damage to a certain weather event. This is not an exact science, but it can still be done with some exactitude. For example, was there a major storm recently with hail? Was there a recent storm even with high winds? If there was then it seems likely that these shingles came off during the high wind. When you see roof damage, you’re usually looking at a storm with some kind of high wind, hail, and or significant amounts of rain. It doesn’t need to be a hurricane or tornado. Although it could be one of those types of storms, it could also just be a high windstorm.
- It’s important to listen to everything the insurance company says with an incredibly critical ear. Often once a roof has been damaged, it will continue to incur more damage over time. Even with more minor storms, one trick for insurance companies is to open as many claims as possible for every little bit of roof damage. At first blush, this might not sound like a problem to you. Given that you probably have a deductible per loss, this could ultimately end up in a situation where the insurance company pays you almost nothing or nothing at all, because each loss is written separately and you have to pay a new deductible for each and every loss. Again, going back to the previous tip. It’s important to take this roof damage and correlate it to one storm.
- Have someone evaluate your roof once you start to notice problems for overall integrity and make sure this is done by someone that you can trust. The insurance company will do anything they can to say that your roof is not a total loss and that it’s just a few shingles that need to be replaced. There are so many issues with this. It is hard to know where to begin. Depending on the type of roof you have it might be difficult for them to replace just a few shingles without further damaging other areas of your roof. Additionally, it’s highly unlikely if shingles start coming off your roof every few weeks every time it rains that just fixing a few shingles is going to fix the entire problem.
While roof damage sounds like a trivial issue, the reality is in Louisiana, and frankly all over the country, roof damage is incredibly common. In fact, I run into many homeowners who don’t bother hiring an attorney or an adjuster and don’t even bother making a claim with their insurance company. They simply pay for the damage themselves, but the reality is that you paid for insurance. If this roof damage is something covered, you should take advantage of it so you don’t have to be out of pocket.
Call (504) 493-7519 or email us today to speak with one of our nationally-recognized New Orleans property damage lawyers.
Galen M. Hair, an aggressive and relentless litigator, is licensed in multiple states and boasts clients from around the world. This unwavering success to continual improvement has led him to be named as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, a Top Lawyer by New Orleans Magazine, the Pro Bono Publico Award and numerous other accolades.