The hail-storm that hit Seminole County, Florida last May (2020) was one of the worst in recorded history. P.Z. Law Firm has successfully handled/resolved/settled countless hail claims.
The following blog post is meant to provide Homeowners with tips to maximize their recovery for a hail damage roof claim. When insurance companies deny a valid hail damage claim, it’s too often for reasons that conjure up images of the movie Groundhog Day at least to me.
- Report the claim ASAP: I know that I say this repeatedly, but it’s foundational. The longer you wait to report the claim, the more likely the insurance carrier can argue they “are prejudiced” by the delay in reporting the claim. The reason the carriers grab onto this is they hope to change the subject from the valid claim toward timing and process. Keep in mind with every valid insurance claim denied by the carrier, the carrier is looking for a loophole or exclusion under which it can deny your claim.
- Document, Document, Document: The more detailed chronological notes you take of what you did, who you spoke to, and what invoices you paid, the more smoothly your claim will proceed. After a hail damage storm, the carriers love to argue that “well you didn’t tell us that you were also making a claim for damaged windows.” If you have contemporaneous notes that say otherwise, it can strengthen your claim. Heck, if possible, after the hail storm has passed, pick up some of the hail balls, measure them, take photos and even store them in your freezer!
- Take Pictures/Videos of the Damage: The hail damage cases with visual evidence (e.g., an iPhone video or photos) are compelling. What is the carrier going to say in response? That the hail didn’t cause damage? It is also a clear rebuttal to any hired loss consultant sent out to inspect the property by the carrier who denies the claim.
- Retain Representation: In most hail damage claims, the carrier typically addresses the claim in the following steps:
- claim is reported;
- carrier then retains a defense friendly engineer (someone who does 90 + percent work for insurance companies, such as Donan Engineering) to inspect the property; and
- engineer then inspects the property and drafts a report claiming that the roof was – wait for it — NOT damaged as a result of hail damage but due to wear and tear, aging of the roof, blistering;
It is best to have someone present for this defense inspection. It can be a general contractor, a public adjuster, a lawyer, or your local neighborhood roofer. You simply need someone to be present not only to document what the engineer did/did not do but also to be able to have someone point out to the engineer where the evidence of hail damage is on the roof. You could even videotape the inspection. A Florida Court two months ago held that if a homeowner provides the carrier with a copy of the video, it is not an invasion of the inspector’s privacy.