No matter how excellent your house insurance is, if disaster strikes you want to be assured that you will have a roof over your head quickly. Unfortunately, if it is a natural disaster that causes significant damage to many homes in your area often the insurance companies start to baulk at facing such a sudden and dramatic loss to their yearly profit, and they can start to try and find ways to payout less than homeowners anticipated.
Before The Storm
So how do you ensure that if you lose your roof in a storm, you don’t lose your shirt trying to arrange repairs? Before natural disasters hit, make sure you read through your insurance policy well. Notice any clauses that require gutters to have leaves removed or nearby trees trimmed. If you have a query about anything in your policy make sure you speak to your insurer to get clarification, and then make sure you get that clarification in writing.
After The Storm
Once you have ensured that everyone is safe, you will want to look at getting your home habitable as quickly as possible. There are companies like Shelter Construction that specialise in dealing with insurance companies to make sure that you have a safe and dry home again as fast as you can. Finding someone who can assess the damage is vital, but they not only need to be able to tell you what needs to be done to create a temporary weathertight home, but they need to be able to provide detailed pricing and explanations to the insurance company in order to get work approved and paid for.
Is There Damage?
Of course, it is easy to tell that you have had damage if a hurricane sweeps through, or gale force winds take your shingles with them on their way through. But often homeowners will discount the strange thump they heard during a storm or write off that strange scratching sound as just normal storm noises. Unfortunately, what is often happening is storm damage, particularly to your roof, that may not be as obvious as a section of missing shingles (see here) and a bucketful of leaking water, but that still means your house is no longer weathertight.
If you have any concerns after a particularly bad storm, your best bet is to talk to a construction firm that specializes in insurance claims about getting a quick review. Many firms will offer this service at no cost, so it pays to shop around. An experienced building or roofing contractor will be able to assess your property quite quickly, as they know the standard areas that are prone to be damaged by certain weather patterns.
Do I Need To Worry?
It is better to be prepared that to be sorry. But, no, you don’t need to worry. What you do need to do is guarantee that if you need to make a claim with your insurance company, that you have had an assessment completed at the time of the damage occurring in order to speed up the claim process. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to minimise the amount of money that they pay out, that is their business after all. However, if you have had a licenced and experienced contractor in to look at potential damage as soon as possible after the damage occurred, you are more likely to have your claim quickly approved, and for the full value to get the work completed.
Can I Use Whoever I Want?
Although insurance companies can often provide a list of local contractors that they have worked with, you are usually free to use whoever you want. A quick check on search engines will give you reviews of local contractors and enable you to confirm that you are using a reputable firm that exists and can be contacted if anything does go wrong.
However, if you use an unlicensed contractor or a contractor who doesn’t repair the damage up to the specifications required by the insurance company (which will generally also be the same as the legal requirements for your local building code http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mdr/exterior/mdr_exterior_roofinghouseaddition), the insurance company may refuse to payout on your final invoice. They may even insist that the work be redone appropriately, meaning that you are out of pocket and without a safe and weathertight home.