Should You Call a Roofer or Insurance Company First for Roof Damage?
Having roof damage after a strong storm is a stressful situation. Going through the insurance claim process to take care of your problem can add even more stress.
If you’ve never been through the process before, the most confusing part is knowing where to start. Do you immediately call a roofing company? Or do you call your insurance company first?
This is a common question that most homeowners have after realizing they have storm damage. Because we want you to be as informed as possible about the entire insurance process, we’re going to break it down for you.
The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped the homeowners in Nashville and surrounding areas with their insurance claims since 1990. We fight for you to ensure you get everything your roof needs to protect you and your family. That’s why we like to say “We work for you, not the insurance company.”
By the end of this article, you’ll learn who to call first when you realize you have storm damage and 3 things you need to know about hiring a roofing contractor for your insurance claim.
Should you call your insurance company or a roofing contractor first for a storm-damaged roof?
If your area was hit by a strong storm and you think you have roof damage, the first thing you should do is call your homeowner’s insurance company. Once you give them all the relevant information, what happens next depends on your area and your specific insurance company.
Some insurance companies schedule an adjuster to come out and inspect the damage to see if you have a claim. After their inspection, and if they approve your claim, then it’ll be time to start researching to find a great roofing contractor.
On the other hand, some insurance companies might tell you to have a roofing contractor inspect your roof for damage before they send an adjuster out. This is pretty common in the Middle Tennessee area, but you won’t know to do this until reaching out to your homeowner’s insurance.
No matter what scenario you’ll eventually fall under, the first thing you should always do if you suspect storm damage is to call your insurance company.
3 things to know about hiring a roofing contractor for your insurance claim
Now you know you should call your insurance company before reaching out to a roofing contractor. But when it’s time to call a roofing contractor for your insurance claim, there are a few things to be on the lookout for before hiring one.
1. The roofing company must have experience working with insurance claims
Once you’re ready to start looking for a roofing contractor to handle your insurance claim, you need to do some research. The first thing you need to look for during your research is if a potential roofing company actually has experience working with insurance claims.
Roofing companies who handle insurance claims know how the insurance claim process works, how to read your claim, fight to make sure everything is correct on the insurance’s estimate, and how to do the work in compliance with your insurance company. A roofing contractor that regularly works with insurance can also save you from inadvertently committing insurance fraud.
If you have a Replacement Cost Value policy or RCV, (your insurance company pays to replace your roof), you might run into a scenario where the work estimate is less than what the insurance company agreed to pay. You don’t get to pocket the money that’s leftover.
Your RCV policy requires proof of completion to ensure the items that were included in the insurance estimate were included in the contractor’s scope of work. If you ask for a check on the recoverable depreciation (the amount an insurance company determines a roof has depreciated over time) but didn’t get the work done, your insurance company won’t pay the depreciation to you.
Hiring a roofing contractor that knows how to work with insurance claims helps you have a positive experience during a stressful time.
2. You need to make sure the roofing contractor is local to your area
When looking for potential contractors to hire, especially for insurance work, it’s crucial to hire one local to your area. They must have a physical office location in your area and a phone number with a local area code.
The reason for this is because many out-of-state companies (storm chasers) come in after a big storm and undercut the prices of the local roofing companies in your area. They’ll send in highly trained salespeople and begin going from door to door using scare tactics to try to sell new roofs to unwary homeowners.
Once they get the money and move on to the next storm-hit town, the crews stay behind to do the work. Usually, the work on these roofs is done poorly without caring about following local codes or if they install your roof properly.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you when a strong storm comes through your area, make sure you reach out to a local reputable roofing company if your roof has storm damage. If you do have an out-of-state company knock on your door, check out this article on 5 tips to avoid getting scammed by storm chasers so you don’t get taken advantage of.
3. Ask to see the potential roofing company’s paperwork
Every roofing contractor should be licensed, bonded, and insured. These three pieces of paper are in place to protect you and ensure the job is done right.
You need to ask for proof to ensure the roofing company is licensed, bonded, and insured specifically in your state. If they’re missing even one of the three, it puts you and your roof at risk.
But what does this paperwork mean to you?
For a contractor to get a license, all they have to do is register with the state board of licensing contractors. The price of the job will determine what license they’ll need.
For example, a job over $3,000 requires a home improvement license and anything over $25,000 requires a general contractor’s license.
Roofing contractors should have a general contractor’s license since a roof is a large investment.
A bond ensures that if a company goes out of business during the middle of a job or if there's a problem with the work and they don't fix it, then the customer can fall back on the bond company.
Being bonded means that a bonding company knows that the roofing contractor does business correctly and ethically. The bonding company puts up the bond because they know the contractor will do the job the right way.
All contractors should be fully insured with general liability, workman's comp, and a company vehicle insurance policy on all the vehicles owned and unowned.
General liability insurance and workman’s comp limits depend on the size of the contractor’s jobs and the state they’re in. If all they’re doing is small residential work, their general liability will not be as much as a company that does larger jobs.
If a roofing contractor isn’t licensed, bonded, and insured in your state, don’t even think about hiring them. Otherwise, if something does go wrong, you will have literally zero recourse.
Show your roofing contractor your insurance estimate paperwork
You just learned 3 things to know about hiring a roofing contractor to handle your insurance claim. But what do you do after you choose one that hits all 3 points that we mentioned earlier?
The first thing you need to do is share all your relevant insurance paperwork with them. Some homeowners are hesitant to do this, but it’s absolutely crucial to share your insurance claim estimate with your roofing company.
The question you probably have now is, “Why is it so crucial?” Because we want to help you understand the insurance process completely, we broke it down for you.
Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has lent a helping hand to customers who have storm damage in the Nashville area. We work with you and your insurance company to give you a great experience during such a stressful time. If you’re local to Nashville, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or are ready to get your storm-damaged roof taken care of.
To learn why it’s crucial to share your insurance paperwork, check out this article on Why You Should Show a Roofing Contractor Your Insurance Estimate.