Filing a claim with your insurance company after a storm has damaged your roof is just the first step to getting your repair or full replacement covered. Your insurance company will send an adjuster out to hop onto your roof and evaluate the damage for themselves. So just what are they looking at while they’re up there?
What does an insurance adjuster do?
The first thing to understand is that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance carrier, not for you. Their job is to assess the damage, make a determination as to whether it was caused by a peril that is covered in your policy, and ensure that your insurance company pays out only what is specifically owed according to the terms of your policy. They serve a very important and necessary purpose, but they are not there to be your friend or do you any favors. And while they do see a lot of roofing structures, they are not trained, certified, or licensed in construction or engineering. You should always have a roofing expert at your side for these types of inspections. This will ensure you have someone with the necessary construction expertise to represent your interests and speak for your roof.
What are they actually looking for?
Depending on the type of roof and the damage incurred, the adjuster may be looking for something as obvious as broken tiles or missing shingles, or something as barely visible as light creasing in a shingle or small dents in a gooseneck.
Generally, they’ll be looking for these signs of damage:
Granules are tiny particles made of crushed rock, porcelain, slag, slate, or tile that cover the surface of each shingle. They provide the core material in your shingles as the first line of defense from the elements. A series of small divots of missing granules dispersed randomly across the roof is a sure sign of hail damage. Anywhere the granules are missing will expose the layer below to the elements. This will eventually ruin that shingle and significantly shorten the life of the roof.
Cracks or creases:
These may appear longitudinally across a course of shingles and are undeniable evidence of high winds that have bent the shingles back and detached them from the course of shingles underneath.
Tiles are affixed to the roof with fasteners or adhesive. A tile roof may have suffered wind damage that may not be visible from the ground, but lifting a loose tile will often lift several interlocked tiles next to it along the same course. This is a sure sign of extensive wind damage to the fastening system underneath. You may see the adjuster pulling up at the edges of individual tiles in different areas of your roof.
There are many aspects of your roof that may give added indications of damage. Some may be covered by insurance or may provide evidence that the adjuster uses to support a denial of coverage. Fascia, flashing, and vents are areas that may give an additional indication that a covered peril caused the damage they are there to inspect. For example, divot shaped dents in vents and other thin or soft metal surfaces are a sign of hail damage. Conversely, things such as peeling paint on a rotted fascia, or old and rusty flashing may indicate long term wear or damage that the homeowner neglected to address and could be cause for a denial of coverage.
How to prepare
If you haven’t already done so, read through your insurance policy. Know exactly which perils you are covered for and, just as importantly, which exclusions may be lurking in the policy. Know your deductible so that you are prepared to cover that portion of the cost for the work should the claim be approved. If your damage is due to a named storm, pay close attention to any hurricane deductible information. If you have any questions about what is in your policy, call your agent. This is why they earn a commission on your premium; now is the time to lean on them for help. Note that your contractor is not a licensed insurance professional. They cannot legally explain your policy or interpret any language in the policy for you. That is your agent’s job.
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