It's likely when your roof is damaged to the point that it needs replacement, you'll want to get a new roof as quickly as possible -- but that doesn’t mean you should cut corners to speed things along. Your insurer could delay or even refuse a payout if you fail to follow proper procedure. As long as you file your claim correctly, your insurer should compensate you for any out-of-pocket expenses you’re entitled to receive.
Check your insurance policy documents to make sure you're covered for the damage to your roof. You might not be able to make a claim if your roof was in a shabby state of repair before the damage occurred. Neglecting your property can invalidate your home insurance.
Take pictures of the damage to your roof – and of any interior damage resulting from the damaged roof. Further, if a hail or snow storm caused the damage, note the date of the storm and perform an Internet search to find articles noting that a storm occurred on that particular date.
Contact your agent as soon as possible to find out how to make a claim. Your policy may require you to notify your coverage provider within a certain time frame. If you have questions regarding your claim, ask your agent. Find out your insurer's procedures for making temporary repairs and replacing your roof.
Call and meet with roofing companies. Ask them for written estimates on the cost of replacing your roof. Also ask them to indicate in their estimates that the roof needs total replacement and roof repairs aren’t an appropriate solution. If you have to make temporary repairs to your roof to continue living in your home, save the invoices or receipts for the repairs. If you cannot continue living in your home due to your roof damage, save the receipts for all costs you incur including living expenses if you have to stay in a hotel until the roof is replaced.
Make a claim with your insurer. Follow your agent’s instructions and any procedure outlined in your policy. Use the claim form your insurer provides. Make sure you include all the details and evidence your provider needs. If you are claiming interior damage, you’ll need to include furniture receipts of damaged furniture if you have them, as well as contractor estimates for any needed interior repairs. The American Association for Justice warns that an insurer could use even an honest mistake in your paperwork as a reason to deny your coverage.
Arrange for an insurance adjuster to visit your home to assess the damage. If possible, have a contractor on hand to speak with the adjuster. Show the adjuster the pictures you have of the storm or incident that caused the damage. The adjuster will most likely take additional pictures. The adjuster may give you a settlement quote before he leaves, or it could take a few weeks for your insurer’s quote.
Replace your roof once your claim is approved. If your claim is denied, or you feel the quote is too low, follow your insurer's appeals procedure. Keep in mind that the quote may be lower than you anticipated because the insurer can factor in depreciation of your roof. If you claim is denied on appeal, you may have to take your insurer to court.
- MSN Money: How to File a Claim -- and Win
- Brigham Young University: Explain the Basics of Homeowners Insurance and Know How to Reduce Costs
- Spading Insurance Group: How do I File an Insurance Claim for Roof Hail/Wind Damage?
- American Association for Justice: Tricks of the Trade
- MAW Construction: 7 Steps on How to File an Insurance Claim for Hail and Wind Damage
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images