It’s been a crazy hail season (and pre-hail season and post-hail season… all full of hail) here in Colorado this year. From Fountain to Wellington and much of Denver metro in between, each storm seemed to be worse than the last. The season started early and ended late. We’ve completed 132 residential roof inspections so far this year and still have more trickling in every week even as winter approaches. In that time, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to many homeowners, roofers, and both private and public adjusters. During those conversations we’ve heard a reoccurring concern about claim denials voiced by both homeowners and roofers.
This concern shared nearly universally by Colorado homeowners is absolutely valid. 2017’s historic proportion, early spring hail storm damage total has been calculated at an incredible $2.3 billion (https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/07/2017-front-range-hail-storm-damage-cost/). 2018’s total surely won’t be far behind. With claim dollar outlays this massive, insurance companies are looking for any and every way to cut their losses - including making bad-faith denials of claims for “preexisting” damage or “irresponsible maintenance”, minimizing payouts by making only small repairs rather than full roof replacements, or blaming damage on manufacturing defects.
How can you as a homeowner protect against these claim denials? We can help. The Amaro Law Firm that specializes in hail damage claim advocacy has some tips here: https://hailclaimlawyers.com/key-facts-hail-damage-claim-process/ - the first of which is:
1. The evidence of damage that you collect matters – This can include extensive pictures of the damage, as well as pre-damage pictures (for a point of comparison).
CNBC’s personal finance expert also recently ran an article giving advice to homeowners prepping for Hurricane Florence: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/12/what-homeowners-can-do-now-to-prepare-for-insurance-claims.html
One of the easiest ways to document your house, your belongings and their condition is to take pictures of them.
The idea is to have proof not only of what you own, but also what kind of shape it was in before the storm. If you can’t prove the prior condition of, say, your now-missing side door, it could cause snags or denials in the claims process if the insurance company has reason to question whether it was maintained properly.
For purposes of documenting before and after, video generally doesn’t work as well, Odess said.
“Some people do it because it’s quick and easy, but it’s difficult to search and bookmark,” he said, adding that photos can be sorted and cataloged easily.
Once you’ve taken the pictures, back them up online if possible.
This is where we can help you, the homeowner, with insurance claim preparation. Due to the high cost of commercial roofing, it’s standard practice for commercial building owners/lessors to take annual stock of their roof’s condition, keeping photograph records for each year to prove prior condition and maintenance to avoid “preexisting” damage denials should the need for an insurance claim arise in the future. Most owners have moved to drone-based roof inspections due to the speed, detail, and cost savings they provide. We have completed dozens of these inspections and, based on the homeowner concerns/feedback mentioned above, will now offer them for residential roofs as well. The service will include close-up, high resolution photo documentation of main roof pitches, ridge caps, and roof-mounted soft targets (vents, pipes, swamp coolers, etc.) in a format similar to what most insurance companies themselves would use to document a roof’s condition. Inspections typically take less than a half hour. Image files have both date/time and GPS location embedded in them prove exactly when and where the inspection was performed. Images files can be provided to the homeowner electronically for the homeowner’s own keeping or, optionally, backed up online in a private, secured Dropbox folder the homeowner can access whenever needed and use to catalog multiple years worth of inspection files.
Just had a new roof installed and want to document it fresh? Want to get ready for the fast-approaching 2019 hail season? Reach out to us to schedule a roof inspection now.
Are you a roofer or public adjuster that would like to directly offer this service to all your clients? We’d love to discuss sub-contracting options with you.