Submitting a claim to your insurance company for roof repairs is a pretty simply process in most cases. The first step is deciding whether it's a good idea to submit the claim at all. If you determine that it is, you then need to get in touch with your insurance agent and inform her of the roof damage. Good communication with your agent and the claims specialist throughout the process makes a favorable outcome more likely.
Determine that You Want to File a Claim
Before contacting your insurance company, think about whether it's in your best interests to file the claim. If the net recovery is relatively small -- a damage claim for $600 when your deductible is $500, for example -- it may be better to accept the loss without making a claim. According to a "Motley Fool" article on insurance claims, insurance companies often react negatively to water damage claims such as leaky roofs because of the potential for future sewage or mold issues. Many insurers might pass on your business if you make only one or two water-related claims. In addition, an ABC News report noted that premiums rise an average of 9 percent following a single homeowners claim in the United States.
Beginning the Claim Process
Don't wait until the roof has been repaired to contact your insurance company. If you've decided the damage warrants a claim, contact your insurance agent before beginning the repair work. Most companies have guidelines for several stages of the process. For example, as of 2013 State Farm has a process specific to roof repair, including advice about selecting an appropriate roofing contractor.
Setting up the Lines of Communication
Tell your agent what happened and then ask for her opinion on how to proceed. She may advise beginning temporary repair work as soon as possible to avoid further damage. The fact that your agent has recommended this will make getting reimbursed for the temporary repair go a little smoother later in the claims process. Make a habit of writing down the gist of all conversations with your agent or the company's claims specialist, including the date and time. If the conversation is substantive -- if, for example, your agent tells you to begin temporary repairs immediately -- write her a short, friendly e-mail thanking her for her advice. This documents the conversation.
Keeping Your Contractor Honest
Get several bids from roofing contractors recommended by friends or located through sites such as Angie's List. Ask for written bids in all instances. Once you've decided on a contractor, discuss anything about his bid that isn't clear and get those clarifications in writing. It's not absolutely necessary, but it's a good idea to send your agent or claims specialist a copy of the bid proposal. If there's anything in the proposal your insurance company won't pay for, you want to know that before the project begins.
Submitting Your Claim
By the time the repair is completed, you'll have been in contact with the claims specialist. In most cases he will contact you shortly after you've notified your insurer of the damage. When you have good and timely communication with your insurance company throughout the process, the actual submission of your claim will be routine.
Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.