Protecting your investment when repairing your roof

Investigations

Homes around East Tennessee have seen their share of structural damage caused by bad weather and treacherous storms over the last few years. The hail storm seven years ago damaged thousands of roofs in multiple counties.

Changes were eventually made following the storm of 2011. These adjustments benefited consumers, better protecting the value of their property in the event of damage.

Storm chasers, out-of-state contractors who suddenly appeared on the scene and then vanished when roofs were repaired, weren’t the only issue people had to deal with in 2011. Thousands of people also received a quick lesson on how to deal with their insurance company to get the best deal.

After negotiations between the state and insurers, some solutions have been reached so roofing contractors can better serve their customers.

The roof of Sam Barnes’ old home in North Knoxville leaks. He had never confronted a damaged roof before and had no idea where to start to have it repaired, so he called a roofing contractor.

“I wanted to know what I was actually dealing with and if I should call my insurance company,” Barnes said.

Barnes said he made the right choice. Violent storms on Election Day downed trees and damaged roofs across East Tennessee, but would all of those roofs need to be replaced or repaired?

“There are lots of levels of damages to a roof. There is simple roof leaks, shingles that might be missing, or the total roof might need to be replaced,” said roofing contractor Kirby Smith.

Smith, of Litespeed Construction, says calling a roofing contractor for a free consultation may save you money in the long run.

“They’re going to assign an insurance adjuster who will touch base with the customer. At that point what the customer is going to want to do is have a contractor, or their own personal adjuster, their advocate, speak to their insurance agent on their behalf,” said Smith.

Smith’s company, like a few others, has a licensed public adjuster on staff.

“I prefer not to talk to the insurance company, I’m not an adjuster. So, I like to send my own professional out. They’re use to and equipped to handle that, who know adjusting law and know insurance law. And, can speak to that appropriately and to those adjusters and to the insurance company alike,” he said. “If the insurance company, lets say, wants to pay X, yet the homeowner feels they’re entitled to have X times 10, or an entire roof replaced or more damages that should be appropriately paid for, that’s where a public adjuster can step in and negotiate to steer that ship correctly.”

In October 2017, Tennessee’s Matching Rules was adopted by the state’s insurance commissioner. It states: “If a loss requires an item to be replaced, say a group of roof shingles, but the replacement does not match in quality, or color or size, the insurer shall replace the items and the insured should not bear any cost beyond the deductible.”

Smith says the ruling is used as a tool for those in his trade and protects customers if there’s a dispute.

“The state of Tennessee says, right here, that you are required to help this customer have a matching roof, or have matching paint on the outside of their homes. It’s not so much that we are required, we use it more as a tool to submit to insurance companies, so they’ll do the right thing and pay what is appropriate,” Smith said.

Discovering damage to your roof can be a stressful time for most homeowners. Having to navigate the insurance claim process can require lots of follow-ups with adjusters, roofing contractors and in some cases, your mortgage company.

Here are a few steps to ensure you can handle the process from start to finish.

Look for damage immediately after a storm. If you suspect your roof is damaged, call a reputable and licensed roofing contractor to come and inspect it.

Take pictures and document details related to the damage. An experienced roofer will know where to look. In some cases, you may have roof damage that is not major enough to warrant an insurance claim. Your roofing contractor can work with you on a repair plan.

When dealing with extensive roof damage, contact your insurance company immediately. Always have a current homeowner’s policy handy to review what limitations may be in place. If you wait too long, you may not be able to submit the claim. 

Calling a contractor and getting them out quickly to look over the deal is important, but be careful what you sign.

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