Your roof has been damaged and you’re seeking repairs – naturally, one of your first moves is to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance. But what if your insurance company comes back with lower-than-expected coverage, or they deny your claim altogether? Before allowing your stress level to reach an all-time high, remember that you still have options to maximize your reimbursement.

Understanding Your Insurance Company’s Motivation

You pay your home insurance premiums on time and, in return, you expect your insurance company to cooperate with you when you need to make a claim. Although it’s disappointing to acknowledge, your insurance company has the same top priority at all times: profit. This isn’t to say every company is guaranteed to under-insure you, but it’s important to remain skeptical throughout the process in order to look out for your own interest and get the most from your claim. So don’t be surprised if your contractor and the insurance field adjuster have different opinions about the damage to your home and the reimbursement you should receive.

Option 1: Request Another Inspection

If your claim gets denied or the field adjuster offers lower coverage than you expected, you can ask the claims department to send another person to complete the inspection. When the insurance company asks why you’re requesting this, simply say you don’t agree with the first field adjuster’s opinion and neither does your contractor. Be prepared to provide specifics, such as the adjuster doesn’t think you should receive reimbursement for a certain type of damage despite it being covered in the policy.

Typically, the insurance company will request a repair estimate from your contractor before sending a second adjuster to your home; in which case, you’ll need to submit the contractor’s estimate to the claims department. Again, to look out for your own interest and save time and energy, be clear that you want a different adjuster to come out and inspect the damage. If your contractor has experience with the same insurance company, that’s going to be your best resource for getting an accurate damage estimate.

Option 2: Hire a Public Adjuster

If you didn’t have any luck or you simply don’t want to hire a second adjuster from your insurance company, try hiring a public adjuster. The upside here is that a public adjuster works directly for you rather than the insurance company, which is a great way to get an unbiased opinion. Plus, a good contractor will have the resources to help you get in touch with a public adjuster and get the ball rolling. They’ll also advise you on whether pursuing a public adjuster is the best decision at this stage in the process.

After completing a walk-through of your property, the public adjuster will negotiate with the claims department to get your claim fully approved, or at least help increase the current coverage. An important thing to keep in mind is the public adjuster will charge you a percentage of the increase between the proposed claim settlement and what he or she negotiated with your insurance company. Make sure the contractor you hire has agreed to cover these fees out of the insurance scope for any of the work they are performing so that this additional public adjuster service is of no additional charge to you. At Indy Roof & Restoration, we offer this service so we can maximize the claim for every customer without our clients incurring any additional costs. This is extremely important.

Option 3: Hire an Appraiser

If you’ve tried or ruled out both of the options above, you could also consider hiring an appraiser to challenge your field adjuster’s report. While this route typically takes the longest, it has the greatest rate of success. Appraisal law came about many years ago as a checks-and-balances system to keep the for-profit insurance companies honest. As we discussed above, insurance company policies are designed to make the most profit for the company, but they have no bearing on building codes enforced in your area and typically violate many of those codes. When you choose appraisal, you negate those insurance company policies, and the appraisers will make decisions based on those enforced codes – with that, comes a more accurate estimate with all necessary components of building code considered.

Appraisals: A Few Things to Expect

Because an appraisal is often very effective for getting homeowners proper pay-outs for their claims, don’t be surprised if your insurance company pushes back or even offers a quick settlement to stop the process in its tracks.

There will be two appraisers assigned to your case – one hired by you (again, your contractor should have pre-established relationships to help point you in the right direction) and one hired by the insurance company. Both appraisers work independently and don’t have a financial stake in any specific outcome with your claim, which increases your chances for maximized coverage. Both appraisers will inspect your property, separately or together, and start negotiating toward a settlement. Because your insurance provider won’t be able to insert its own bias into the decision, the two appraisers should reach an agreement that fully indemnifies you from the storm damage on the date of loss given.

Although it’s uncommon, the appraisers may not be able to come to an agreement; if this does happen, an umpire would come in to make the final decision. Both parties must then abide by the approval or denial of your homeowner’s claim, as well as the value the umpire reported.

Successful Indianapolis Appraisals at Indy Roof & Restoration

Indy Roof & Restoration completes approximately 500 appraisals each year, with a win rate of 95 percent. The things we see most often with this high success rate are recommended repairs that should have been replacements or undervalued costs of repairs or replacements. While the process is often successful, keep in mind that it can take quite a bit of time – anywhere between two months and one year. The key to getting through it is making sure your chosen contractor is willing to fight for you regardless of how long it takes. Although it might be convenient, never hire a contractor that is willing to accept whatever low-quality estimate the insurance company sends out. This will result in a low-quality installation and a sub-par roof on your home.

Another way you might think of this is: You have to pay your deductible no matter what. Don’t you want the best quality product for that deductible? If you had to pay $5 for a steak and could get ANY steak, would you pick a steak from a three-star restaurant or would you choose the best steakhouse in your city? Of course, you would pick the best steak! You’re paying the same amount of money no matter what, so you want to get the best quality possible. The same concept applies to your insurance claim. There’s no question that waiting for your claim to process for the proper amount can be frustrating. If you simply accept the decision, you’re stuck with either an unpaid claim or reimbursement of only a portion of the funds needed to repair your storm damage. When you challenge the original decision, you stand a much better chance of achieving the outcome you wanted in the first place. Even though it’s slow sometimes, look at it like this: You can take a definite “no” now, or you can get a probable “yes” or at least an increase later.

Aaron Christy

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