Filing Your Insurance Claim (To File or Not To File).
Filing Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim- Ultimate Wind & Hail Damage Guide For Homeowners
After a hail or wind storm- you might be wondering, “Should I file an insurance claim or not? How do I know when it’s good for me to file and when it’s not? Will my premiums go up? Will my insurance company drop me?”
Let’s look at the last two questions first: since hail and wind damage is considered to be “an Act of God” – your insurance company cannot legally drop you after you make an insurance claim. Having said that, I have seen cases when an insurance company didn’t renew a policy that has been in force for many years after a single legitimate claim. In this case I recommend reporting this to your state insurance administration/commission by filing a complaint.
Google:[your state] + insurance administration/commission and file a complaint.
Unlike your car insurance, which is based on each individual insurance claim (your car insurance goes up if you get in an accident) your homeowner’s insurance premiums are based on your community. If you are the only one to file an insurance claim- your rates won’t go up, but if there are widespread claims like a hail storm, then the entire community will see their insurance premiums go up regardless if you file a claim or not.
To File or Not To File
There are scenarios where it might not be a good idea to file an insurance claim (even if your home was damaged), while there other scenarios when it’s vitally important to file the claim.
Reasons to File:
- The house has sustained storm damage(hail and/or wind) and the repair cost is higher than your deductible.
- Failure to repair storm damage can lower the value of your home
- Your insurance rate most likely will go up regardless if you file or not. Home insurance rates are calculated based on the claims in your geographic area- not based on your home individually (like your car insurance).
Reason Not to File:
- You have minimal damage to your home and a high deductible.
- You have minimal damage to your home and don’t have a RCV
It is impossible to determine whether you should file or not based on looking for damage from the ground- you have to get on the roof to determine whether the hail impact bruised the shingle and damaged the mat
It’s important to remember that it is not unusual for certain homes to have minor hail damage even if the home next to them sustained major damage. There are reasons for this, namely your shingles may be thicker and/or newer. Your siding maybe of a higher quality than your neighbor’s or tree cover may have reduced the number of hail impacts, as well as many other factors. So you shouldn’t assume that you have hail damage even though there is large hail in the neighborhood.
Before You File an Insurance Claim
It is very important to have your Qualified Local Contractor inspect your home and consult with you on whether it is in your best interest to file a claim or not. If you file an insurance claim before you have a QLC inspect your home, there is a high likelihood that the insurance adjuster will inspect your home without the contractor present. As you will learn later in this series, it is usually in your best interest to have the contractor by your side when an insurance adjuster is inspecting your roof for damage.
Filing a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim (The Process)
To file a claim you need to:
- Locate your insurance policy and call the insurance company’s Claims Department, not the sales department. If you can’t find your policy, the claims department will have your policy information on file.
- Beside the standard contact information, the claims department will also ask you the date the hail or wind damage occurred.
- The claims department will give you a claim number and assign your claim to an adjuster. Make sure to write this claim number down. Your contractor will need the claim number to help you navigate the claims process.
- The adjuster will call you to set an appointment to come out and inspect your home for damage.
Note: It is imperative to call your contractor to inform him/her of the appointment date, so that the contractor can meet the adjuster at your home. If your QLC is not present during the inspection, there is a good possibility that some of the legitimate hail and/or wind damage may be missed.
Types of Insurance Adjusters
There are two types of insurance-claim adjusters:
- A Staff adjuster is a salaried adjuster that works for an insurance company.
- A Catastrophe adjuster is a trained disaster response independent adjuster who is not an employee of the insurance company.
It is almost always better to have a catastrophe (CAT) adjuster than a staff adjuster because the CAT adjuster has been trained specifically to recognize hail and wind damage, whereas the staff adjuster covers all sorts of claims: car damage, flooding, missing diamond rings, etc.
Ask your QLC for more tips on working with an adjuster to get the full amount that you are legitimately entitled to from your insurance company.
Tip: When it comes down to getting your claim approved, who your individual insurance adjuster is, is more important than who your insurance company is, because the insurance company relies heavily on the adjuster’s opinion of whether there is or is not hail and/or wind damage.
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