If you have roof storm damage that your storm insurance should cover, hire a roofing contractor that practices the three “P”s. A successful insurance claim and roof repair depend on Professionalism, Patience, and Persistence. While not typical, read the story below to see how all of those factors were key to a successful outcome for one of our clients.
Insurance is something we all have but never hope to use.
We pay our premiums. We dread yearly renewal price increases. Insurance gives us peace of mind, but we hope we never have to file a claim.
If you own a business or commercial property, you probably have more insurance than you will ever need. In addition, different policies protect different aspects of your business, again with the hope of never having to use them.
If you experience a loss, you expect your insurance company to act honestly when working through the roofing insurance claim. Most claims can be negotiated and settled within a few months. Sometimes, an insurance company will delay their decision, but eventually, they write the checks and the case is closed. We have worked on countless commercial property damage insurance claims over our years in business. Most move quickly and smoothly through the claims process, allowing the property owner to fix the damage and get back to business.
Though most claims are relatively painless, there are always exceptions.
One example is a claim we handled recently. This claim was on a loss that occurred nearly four years ago on a 65,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.
The early phases of the insurance claim process went smoothly. Our initial inspection showed hail damage to most of the vents and soft metals on the roof, all three air conditioners, security roll-up doors, and the metal carports. We checked the hail data for that address, and we found a hailstorm with hail 1 ¼” in diameter three months prior to our inspection, which is well within the time frame to file a claim.
We filed the hail damage claim. The adjuster the insurance company sent mainly handled residential claims, but the insurance company sent him out anyway. He did a reasonably thorough inspection and made statements that left us optimistic that the claim would be approved. We ended the inspection with a promise of a call with the next step. We were happy, the client was happy, and we expected this to be a typical claim.
We were wrong.
About a week later, we received a call from the original adjuster asking if he could send an engineering company out to the property. Since all policies state that the policyholder must allow the insurance company to investigate the claim, we agreed. Unfortunately, in our experience, most engineering companies deny the claim in about 3 out of 4 cases, so we were a little nervous to hear the outcome of this next insurance roof inspection.
We reluctantly met the engineer onsite. We were pleasantly surprised by the thorough inspection, the questions, and the methods with which this engineer was investigating the claim. It was by far the longest inspection of the roof insurance claim process we have encountered so far. At the end of the inspection, the engineer said he would have his report done within a week and send it to the adjuster. We all shook hands and left.
Almost two weeks later, we received a call from the large-loss adjuster that the insurance company had assigned. He wanted to do an inspection and bring a contractor along. We agreed and a month after the engineering inspection, we were on site with the large-loss adjuster and his preferred contractor. The inspection was focused on construction instead of hail damage. We took core samples, measured the roof, and counted vents, swamp coolers, and air conditioning units. It seemed like we were well on our way to proving the loss and being able to fix the damage. We ended this inspection with the large-loss adjuster telling us he would email us with the next steps.
A week later, we received an email from the adjuster stating there was some confusion on where exactly hail damaged the roofing system. They wanted to do another engineering inspection. We assumed the original engineer was coming out, so we welcomed the opportunity to figure this out with the insurance company. We were told it would be a couple of weeks until the engineer could come out for another inspection.
When the next insurance roof inspection finally came, we found out it was a new engineer from a new engineering company. His complete assessment of a massive 65,000-square-foot building took a mere 40 minutes. He said five words to us throughout the entire inspection. We were not expecting a positive outcome.
After multiple roof inspections, the client received a denial letter.
Two weeks after that second engineering inspection, the client received an email. It was a denial letter, stating the engineering report from the second engineering company said there was no covered damage. Attached to the denial letter was the engineering report from the first engineering company. It stated there was covered damage across the building, on most of the other items listed earlier, and all in the policy period.
We had seen this coming after the second engineering company inspection, so we had already contacted our trusted law firm to help us with this claim. When the denial letter came, we passed all documents to them, signed the lawyer’s letter of representation, and most importantly, we stopped talking to the insurance company.
Roof damage insurance claims and the importance of maintaining professionalism.
We documented everything throughout the process, including every email, inspection and phone call. We knew the lawyer had everything he needed from us to hold the insurance company accountable. They ended up hiring another engineering firm, a meteorologist, an economist (for lost product and interest), and a slew of other specialists to pour through our notes and the insurance company’s claim file. The lawyers were on top of things, finding all instances of bad faith, all opportunities the insurance company had to do the right thing, and everything necessary to make sure the client was made whole.
Finally, the insurance company settled the roof damage claim.
Due to an abundance of red tape and Covid delays, it took 5 months from filing the claim to the carrier denying the claim. Then, it took three and a half years to work its way through the judicial system and for the insurance company to settle.
At the end of the day, the lawyers made their money, the public adjuster made their money, we received enough to fix all hail-damaged items at the property, and the client received reimbursement for some lost product they had due to leaks in the roof. We probably could have passed on the settlement, but we were still months away from trial, and the client would have ended up with a massive judgment. We knew that could delay payments another 2-4 years. Since the settlement offer was enough to pay everyone’s fees and make the client satisfied, we settled.
This situation was not typical, but we believe in persistence when we know we’re right.
Fortunately, this claim process is not typical. Most companies would have given up early on. Most clients would have given up and paid out of pocket to fix the damage themselves long before the claim was settled. However, we were patient, the client was patient (we updated them monthly with everything that had happened the prior month), and we could hold the insurance company accountable.
It took almost four years of patience, but we got it done.
If you’ve experienced storm damage, you may feel overwhelmed and wonder, “how do I file a roof damage claim?” Contact us and let us guide you through the roof insurance claim process as we did with this customer. We will be there for you too, through thick and thin, no matter what it takes.