Hail claims are one of the insurance companies most common types of claims. What doe that mean to you? A major disadvantage.
Insurance companies are better prepared to take you on with your claim for a new roof, siding paint, or other repair work. Because they have so much experience with hail claims, the insurance companies have a well-developed plan of attack to minimize your settlement.
We are sure you agree that if your roof is heavily damaged by hail, or completely destroyed, you need a new one. If your roof is totally undamaged, you don’t. Too bad all hail claims aren’t that cut and dry. The problem is, more often than not, a judgment call is required to determine whether the hail actually damaged the roof and the adjuster believes that he or she is the person best trained to make that call.
A good example: Your neighbor’s adjuster form ABC Insurance Company make the judgment call and pays your neighbor for a completely new roof. Then your adjuster from XYZ Insurance Company makes the judgment call and only pays you a few hundred dollars for a patch job. Go figure.
One thing is certain, once the adjuster makes the call that you have little or no damage, it’s difficult to change his or her mind. The adjuster has a plan to prove it too – a hired gun just waiting to validate the company’s position. Once you are faced with an adjuster and a hired gun teaming up against you, the fight begins.
What is your best defense when the adjuster attacks your hail claim? A good offense!
Because speaking the language with the adjuster, contractor, or hired expert helps to level the playing field, so here is your crash course in the basic physics of hail. The National Weather Service has defined the size of hailstones as the following:
- Pea Size hail is ⅛ inch in diameter
- Marble size hail is ⅜ inch in diameter
- Golf ball size hail is 1 ¾ inch in diameter
- Baseball size hail is 2 ¾ inch in diameter
Anything larger and you may not have a home to worry about!
The size of the hailstone is only part of figuring out what damage is possible from a hailstone. Almost as important as size, is the force of the wind. Wind affects both the direction of the hail and how hard the hail hits your property. Hail either falls straight down on your roof, or it is blown at an angle.
When there are high winds accompanying the hail-storm, more than your roof is exposed to damage. Therefore, inspect these items very thoroughly:
- Lawn furniture
- Anything exposed to direct hits by hailstones
Discussing hail speed is a technique generally used by hired guns to impress you and make you think that there is some complicated, scientific calculation used to figure out the rate of acceleration of hail. Other than to sound like you know what you are talking about, figuring out the speed or rate of acceleration of hail is useless.
The rate of acceleration principle is usually explained to you in conjunction with why you have less damage than you think you do. Your roof was only hit by “slow and puny” hail. So you aren’t caught feeling intimidated by this flashy explanation, here is the rate of acceleration calculation in a nutshell:
The rate of acceleration is figured using a combination of two factors. The first factor is terminal velocity or the maximum speed reached by a falling object. This is determined by the size and weight of the hailstone. The second factor is wind; high winds or gust can accelerate the speed of the hailstones.
Unless both factors are precisely known, which is generally never the case, it is almost impossible to accurately figure out the speed of the hailstone. Without knowing the actual speed of the hailstone, the insurance company cannot argue that the hail was too small to cause damage, it can only speculate as to know how hard the hail hit your home. So don’t be intimidated or impressed by fancy physics terminology. The bottom line is that physical evidence of the hail damage will speak for itself.
You can argue that a marble size hailstone can cause as much damage as a golf ball size hailstone if it hits hard and fast enough.
Try these five tips to better your rate of success when filing a claim:
- Keep some of the largest hailstones in your freezer to prove the size of the hail. Taking pictures of the hail is also very helpful.
- If you have composition shingles, collect the particles of granulate that accumulate in your rain gutters and downspouts.
- Have a contractor complete a hail damage inspection report.
- Take advantage of the fact that your neighbors were paid for new roofs.
- Do not accept an appearance allowance. This is when your insurance company pays for partial items to be repaired or replaced.
How to Handle Your Insurance Claim
Whether you are making a claim for the first time, experienced at making claims, or are thinking about reopening the claim for which you have already been paid, this information will be invaluable to you. The primary objective of the insurance company is to make money. One of the ways it makes money is to control your claim and minimize the amount it pays you for the damages. It is as simple as that.
Just remember, insurance companies have checks and balance systems in place to prevent overpayment. You are the only checks and balance system to prevent being underpaid.
How to File Your Claim
You are owed payment for your claim the same as the insurance company was owed (and received) your premium. So don’t feel guilty about making a claim for full entitlement. It is your right.
All insurance policies contain specific duties you must do after a loss. In some homeowner’s policies, these contractual duties are found in the insurance policy. There are seven primary duties you must comply with to meet your responsibilities under the policy. These are as follows:
- Notify the insurance company of a loss as soon as possible. If you didn’t notify your insurance company immediately after the loss, provide a written explanation of why the report of loss was delayed. (Call us for a sample letter.)
- Keep the loss from getting bigger by protecting your property from further damage. The insurance company refers to this as “mitigating your damage.” Do your best to secure, board up, or cover the roof to minimize any further damage. Keep track of your labor and receipts for the expenses; you can get reimbursed.
- Submit your proof of loss along with supporting documents within the specified time. The insurance company will advise you if it requires proof of loss.
- If requested, provide additional supporting documents. Here is an example: If the building is destroyed in a tornado, the insurance company has the right to request the original plans and specifications of the building.
- Exhibit and separate damaged from undamaged property. You must show the insurance company the damaged property as often as reasonable.
- Produce accounting and other records for examination and permits to be made. The insurance company prefers to make copies of the original documents to prevent alterations of the bills, receipts, or book entries.
- Submit to a statement (examinations) under oath. Do not confuse a statement under oath with a recorded statement. An adjuster who requests a recorded statement is not always suspicious of your claim. It may just be a company procedure.
How to Identify Hail Damage
The question is – have you suffered from hail damage? Keep an eye out for signs of hail damage on your property. If you have collateral damage on your cars, mailboxes or other fixtures, you most definitely have damaged shingles on your roof.
- Pockmarks on roof
- Broken siding
- Dented metal
- Fence damage
- Dented autos
- Dented gutters
If you have any of these markings on your property, please contact us as soon as possible for a free hail damage assessment.