Most people have some sort of insurance: car, property, electronic, life, etc. Further, if you live in Florida, and own a car, you are statutorily required to have auto insurance! Insurance is a good thing to have but can be hard to understand. For instance – premiums, copay, deductibles, and the policy itself. This article is focused on clarifying one of these areas: the filing of a new claim. A claim is when you contact your insurance provider and ask them to either defend you or pay for a covered event or occurrence that is listed in your policy – like a car accident or hurricane hitting your house. Filing a claim seems complex and difficult but it is really quite simple. Take a minute and read the information in this article, it will walk you through a newly filed roof damage insurance claim and hopefully put your mind at ease about the process.
Filing a claim is the start of a long and intense process. It is nothing to be afraid of, but at the same time it is important to take the process seriously and understand what will happen. The process begins when a homeowner first notices damage and decides to file a claim with his or her property insurance company, and the claim process typically ends when the insurance company makes a determination to “confirm” the claim and accept coverage for the damage, or to “deny” your claim.
Inspect Your House
Homeowners often “discover” damage to their home on a certain date. Perhaps one day you are cooking and notice a brown wet spot on your ceiling. Or during summer months a homeowner might notice the pool screen has holes in it following a hailstorm. Maybe seeing multiple neighbors that are getting their roofs replaced makes you think of yours. Whatever the cause, the first step in the roof damage claim is for you, the homeowner, to inspect your property.
For most homeowners, it is not recommended that you go on your roof. Roofs are in fact very dangerous and you do not want to fall off. However, look carefully at your property, both inside and out. Are there any leaks in your house? Have you noticed holes in window screens, or pool screens following a storm? Can you see any shingles missing or dents on your roof? Have you noticed an impact marks or dings on your gutters that look as if a golf ball struck them? These are all signs of wind and hail damage and if you’ve noticed damage to your home that you think might be related to a storm of wind, you may want to file a claim and have your home investigated.
Filing a Claim
Filing a claim involves a five minute phone call to your insurance company. Filing a claim is something you can do on your own, or if you’re more comfortable, a roofing attorney can file your claim for you and be with you during from start to finish during the entire claim process.
Before the call, however, gather together certain things.
- Find a copy of your insurance policy and declarations page. This will have your policy number on it; it will tell you your coverage amounts, as well as additional information.
- Determine what your Date of Loss is. The Date of Loss is the date that the damage occurred – so, something like the storm date.
Call the phone number listed on your insurance declaration page – usually it is a toll free number. When the customer service rep answers, introduce yourself and tell them you’d like to file a claim for roof damage.
They will likely ask you several short questions:
- Policy Number
- What kind of damage are you experiencing
- When did you first notice the damage
This is a fairly short and brief phone call, so keep your answers short and brief. Many insurance companies will record the telephone conversations, so be careful about what you say – this is not the time to vent about your home, the weather, the stock market, or to speculate about what you think might or might not be causing the problem. Listen to the questions the customer service rep asks, and answer only those questions. All you are doing at this step is filing the claim.
After you’ve filed a claim for damage to your home, the next step is to wait for a call from your insurance company’s adjuster.
A few days after your claim has been filed, you will likely get a telephone call from an adjuster representing your insurance company. An insurance provider’s adjuster works on behalf of the company to inspect and appraise the damage in the claim. Some adjusters are employees of the insurance companies, while others might be independent adjusters that work with your insurance provider on an outsourcing basis. The adjuster will want to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect it, as well as talk to you.
Get ready for the Adjuster’s inspection of your home. Often the adjuster will take pictures, so make sure your house and yard are clean – always assume the worst case scenario – that one day a picture of your home could end up in court! Make sure your home looks well kept and taken care of – jurors like homeowners who take care of their home.
Think through what you will tell the adjuster when he or she arrives – remember, this is not a social call and the adjuster is not your friendly neighbor stopping by for a visit. The adjuster has a job to do, and he or she works for the insurance company, not for you.
During the adjuster’s inspection, be careful what you say, and say as little as possible. Adjusters are trained about types of questions to ask, so what might seem like pleasant chit chat could really be pointed questions designed to get you to reveal information that might harm your claim.
Listen to the adjuster’s questions, and think before you answer them. If you don’t know an answer, the best response is to simply say, “I don’t know”. If you don’t remember something, say “I don’t remember”.
In some cases, the adjuster will hire an engineer to judge the extent of the damage. Engineer’s reports are influential on the monetary amount of the damage but their judgment is not binding. Remember, these engineers are hired by the insurance firms and know who pay for their services…
- Never, For Any Reason Whatsoever, Guess
When speaking to an adjuster or anyone from the insurance company -guessing and speculating can, and will, not help you. If you are not certain about something, simply say you don’t know or you don’t remember. “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” are perfectly acceptable answers.
- Only Answer the Questions Asked
You have an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company during the investigation – but you don’t want to do anything to give the insurance company cause to deny your claim, either. When answering questions the adjuster asks you, listen carefully, think about the possible answers, and only answer what was asked.
For instance, if you noticed missing singles from your roof while mowing the grass two weeks ago, and the adjuster asks you, “When did you first notice the missing shingles from your roof?” you should answer, “I noticed them two weeks ago.”
You should NOT answer “I saw it two weeks ago, but I can’t remember if they were there before or not – but you know, it’s possible they went missing months ago – heck, it’s possible they were there when I bought the home. I just don’t remember.” Address the adjuster’s questions directly, without speculation, and honestly.
- What’s wrong with that previous answer?
You may think the adjuster will write “Homeowner believes single damage occurred two weeks ago” when in reality the adjuster could very well note that “Homeowner stated that roof damage may have been there prior to purchase of home.”
A few weeks or months later you may get a letter in the mail denying your claim due to a preexisting condition – e.g. the missing shingles were there when you first bought the home.
You are only required to answer questions about facts that you know – and in that scenario, all the homeowner knew was that the shingles missing were first noticed two weeks ago. Everything else is pure speculation, or guessing. By guessing, the homeowner harmed himself in this scenario. Do not guess; allow us to provide an opposing adjuster or possibly an engineer to inspect the damage to your home.
If You Think You Need a Lawyer
If you believe your home is subject to roof damage and need help during the claim process do not hesitate to contact to contact a lawyer or make a claim. The more signs of roof damage, the more important it is to have your home checked out to prevent further damage and possibly deadly mold. If you do not see visible roof defects but believe your roof is in fact defective, a lawyer can hire an engineer to test your roof.
If you liked this information go to www.DifatoLaw.com to read more. If you need to speak to a lawyer call the Difato Law Office at 904-347-5588 for a free consultation and evaluation of your home or simply fill out a free case evaluation form.
– Stephen Difato
Attorney at Law
The information contained in this post or on http://www.difatolaw.wordpress.com is provided for advertisement, illustrative, educational, and informational purposes only. The contents of this site are not legal advice, and this website is not an offer to perform services on any matter.
9248 Estate Cove Cir, Riverview, FL 33578