Two weeks ago, a wind storm hit Baltimore. When storms come to town, there is damage to real estate. And no place gets hit harder than your roofing in Baltimore, MD.
If your roof is missing shingles, or you see roof material that has blown down onto the sidewalk, you have a valid claim for a roof replacement. Every property owner should know this.
As a Roofing Contractor, part of our job is to understand the insurance process, and to help our clients navigate this process. For this reason, Four Twelve put together The Property Owner’s Guide to Navigating a Roof Insurance Claim. Homeowners and business owners alike – if you own real estate – this guide is a must read.
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1. STEP 1 – ASSESS YOUR ROOF.
Roof Replacements can range in cost from $5,000 – $40,000+ for homeowners in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. So if you see damage to your roof structure, it is in your best interest to file a claim. You may be able to get your insurance to pay for a new roof, as opposed to paying the full cost, out of pocket 5 years from now.
2. STEP 2 – FIND A LICENSED AND INSURED ROOFING CONTRACTOR TO WORK WITH. YOU SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO CAN “REPLACE YOUR ROOF FOR THE COST OF YOUR DEDUCTIBLE.”
Across our community, there is some confusion about Step 2. Insurance providers and homeowners’ natural inclination is to shop around for the best price from contractors. When doing your kitchen or bath, yes – this makes sense. But let us shake some new knowledge into your head. Insurance claims are a different game. When it comes to Roof Insurance Claims – Price DOES NOT matter.
As a homeowner, you want to know 2 things when hiring a contractor for an insurance claim:
1) Have they done any insurance claim work (ask them for examples, references)?
2) Can they commit to replacing your roof, for the cost of your deductible? If they say yes, get this in writing and sign a contract with them to represent you through the process. If you’d like a sample contract, reach out to Four Twelve and we can share with you our template.
No matter where prices fall out, know that you as the homeowner have the final say – in that you tell your insurance company who you’ll be working with. And for this reason, you should be focused on finding a contractor who does quality work, has experience working with insurance and who can commit to replacing your roof for the cost of your deductible.
***BE WARY OF CONTRACTORS WHO SAY THEY WILL PAY YOUR DEDUCTIBLE
Insurance fraud is common in the world of storms and roofing. Any roofing companies who tell you that they can lower their deductible or pay you back your deductible, is committing fraud. If you engage in this, you could be liable and exposed to criminal charges, even if you did so unknowingly. So be careful.
3. STEP 3 – FILE A CLAIM
Contact your insurance company and open up a claim for storm related damages. Tell them you would like an adjuster to come out to the site and create an estimate for repairs. If you are signed on with a contractor, they should be able to handle this process for you.
At this point, you should have selected a contractor, based on the criteria above (roof replacement for the cost of my deductible). You will want to know from the adjuster, when they will be coming to your house to create the estimate. It can be helpful in expediting the process, to have your contractor meet the adjuster on site for their 1st meeting. The adjuster’s estimate for damages will be incredibly low compared to the actual cost of the work. This is where your contractor can help tremendously, in negotiating with the adjuster on your behalf. This negotiation can go on for a long time, but if your contractor is present at the 1st meeting it can speed things along.
4. STEP 4 – RECEIVE THE ADJUSTER’S ESTIMATE. HAVE YOUR CONTRACTOR NEGOTIATE ON YOUR BEHALF.
As I mentioned above, your adjuster’s estimate will be a lowball offer. They will either exclude items or put low dollar values on replacement costs. Never accept the 1st offer from an adjuster. Their 1st offer is not the final take it or leave it price, ever.
When the adjuster’s estimate comes in your email, your contractor should negotiate on your behalf. Their goal is to get enough money to repair your property, in a quality fashion, while only having you as the homeowner on the hook for your deductible. If you are paying out of pocket on top of your deductible – your contractor is not doing their job.
The adjuster will prepare their estimate through a software program called Xactimate. This is the universal software program for insurance claims. You want a contractor who works in Xactimate as well. This way the insurance company has no excuses. An “apples to apples” comparison is what the insurance company will look for in determining whether a contractor’s claim is legitimate and professional.
5. STEP 5 – CONTRACTOR FINALIZES NEGOTIATION. CONTRACT IS AGREED UPON AND SIGNED. WORK COMMENCES.
After the negotiation between your contractor and your insurance provider, you should sit down with your contractor and clarify the final scope of work. The contractor may have gotten certain damages funded and certain damages not funded. Based on the money they received, they should have a good idea of what is being replaced and what cannot (based on the funding). You will want to finalize this scope of work, and have it inserted into a formal contract, which you and your contractor sign and agree upon.
After this, you are free to proceed with the work. We wish you luck in this process and hope this guide is helpful. If you have any friends or colleagues, who are in need of insurance clarification – please, share this article with them or refer them to Four Twelve to help with their roof insurance claims and we promise to take care of them.
Four Twelve is dedicated to providing a better offering to the community of Baltimore and we want you as homeowners and business owners to be better informed about how to protect your investments – hopefully through putting the teachings of this article into practice. When it comes to roofing, gutter, skylight, and property renovation needs, you can contact us for help. You may also visit us at 10 E North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21218 for a personal consultation. Contact Us Today!