What to do and what not to do if you have damage to your home or cars after a hailstorm

What to do:

  • Get more than one estimate and ask for references, licensing and proof of insurance
  • Get the estimate in writing with the exact pricing
  • Hire a reputable, trustworthy company
  • If you want a local referral, ask us!

 

What not to do:

  • Do not sign any contracts until you’ve talked to at least one other company and your insurance company

 

Many parts of Minnesota experienced hailstorms this weekend. If you did, you can now expect LOTS of “storm chasers” knocking on your door telling you they can get you a new roof. They will likely make promises that they may not be able to keep. Whether you get a new roof or not will be determined by your insurance company. Some of these storm chasers will blame the “Big Bad Insurance Company” if you don’t get a roof. Let me start by saying that some of these storm chasers are companies that will come from out of state just to follow the money that these storms provide. Once the work is done, they leave the state and take any “warranty” they promised with them. Often, they will also do a poor job and/or use poor materials. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great companies out there that will do a good job for a fair price. All I am saying is to use caution and do your due diligence before you sign any contracts. Also, make sure you get a couple estimates in writing — don’t let them tell you that they will do the work for what the insurance company pays. Get firm pricing before signing anything! If you need a referral for contractors, let us know. We have a couple local companies we’ve personally done business with and who will do the work in an honest and fair method.

As far as the “Big Bad Insurance Company” is concerned. All of us have heard rumors in the past about insurance companies trying to get out of paying the claim. This is not the case these days. Insurance companies are strictly regulated by the state in which they do business. Doing business in Minnesota has more value to the insurance companies than trying to get out of paying for your roof. Your insurance company is there to help you get the damaged fixed. You can trust your insurance company more than then you can trust some contractors that are knocking on your door. If you have a contractor blaming the insurance company for you not getting your new roof, get a second opinion from a different contractor. More likely than not, it’s the contractor that’s to blame because he got caught making promises he couldn’t keep. Most insurance companies have become very generous in what they are paying for a new roof. As an example, after the June 2011 hailstorm I had a client call me upset because his insurance company would not pay the full bill the contractor was demanding to do the job. After doing a little digging, I found the contractor was trying to gouge the client and the insurance company. Typically, roofer will do a roof for about $200 per square, the client’s insurance was paying $370 per square but the contractor was trying to charge $550 per square! You are the one that is in control of the job and the process. You are the one hiring the contractor and you are the one who will be paying the contractor. The insurance company will be cutting the check to you and if you’ve signed a contract for $550 per square and the insurance company only pays out $370 per square, you are the one who will have to make up the difference, not your insurance company.

If you believe you may have damage, call your insurance company and file the claim right away. There will be a lot of people filing claims. The people who have holes in their roofs will be the first to be addressed by the insurance company. Once the adjuster comes to your home, they will inspect the home completely and look for all the damage that will need to be repaired including the roof, window and doors, siding, sheds, fences, etc. The adjuster will most likely take his inspection back to his office and make up a very detailed estimate broken down by hours of labor for each item, material cost for each item and then send you a copy of this estimate along with an initial check which will be made out to you and your mortgage company. If the adjuster says you have damage, make sure you reach out to your mortgage company and ask them how they want to handle signing off on that check. Their process for this will depend on the bank, your payment history and the amount of the check. Smaller amounts will most likely result in you mailing them the check, they sign off on it and mail it back to you. Larger amounts may have to be put in an escrow account and paid back to you as the work gets completed. They will also hire an inspector to verify the work is getting done. This is not unusual as they want to make sure their investment in your home is being protected.

If there are discrepancies in the amount of material needed or labor hours or if something gets missed, your contractor will just have to do their own estimate and get that to your adjuster. If the discrepancy is valid, the adjuster will pay the additional amount. Keep in mind these adjusters are working dawn to dusk after events like these and may not see their families for a couple months at a time. Things will get missed. It may seem like I am trying to defend the insurance company here but that’s not entirely true. Some of the insurance companies in Minnesota are terrible when it comes to taking care of their clients but so are some contractors. Just because the contractor has his business name plastered all over the big new truck he drives up in doesn’t mean he will do the best work for a reasonable price. If you do believe your insurance company isn’t taking care of you fairly or in a timely manner, get your agent involved. Typically, the agent is kept out of the loop during this process and will not be aware your having problems unless you tell them. There are things your agent can do to move things along and clarify the situation.

If you get to the point where you’ve had two or three contractors that tell you that you have damage and your insurance company is still telling you ‘no’, don’t worry, you still have options. You can request a second inspection and have your contractor meet with the adjuster to discuss the damage. If that doesn’t work, there is a “appraisal” process  (nope not Arbitration, it’s actually called appraisal) in which you have the right to. Talk to your agent and they will have the insurance company send you the documents to start that process. The process works like this — You hire an independent professional to state your side (you can use your contractor if your confident in his/her ability). Your insurance company also hires an outside independent professional (usually an independent adjuster). Both parties will inspect the damage and appear before a mediator who will hear both sides and make a decision on your case. You will have to pay half of the costs involved in this but if you win, you will get reimbursed by your insurance company.

Please be careful! We are here to help you out. If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to reach out. Unless you have an emergency situation, you have the time to make sure you’re making the right decision.

 

Jeff Baker

Baker Insurance Brokers

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