You’ve had a major weather event that’s necessitated repair or replacement of your roof – what next? Your first stop is typically going to be your homeowners insurance. From this point on, there are quite a few people involved in the process and it can all be overwhelming. It is important to remember that some of those people have your best interest at heart and are working for you and others have their eyes on their company’s bottom line. Meaning, they want to save their company money. Guess where that cost saving comes from? The homeowner’s pocket. At Indy Roof Company, we highly recommend working with an appraiser for your roofing estimate. We’ll outline the reasons why in this blog post and hopefully by the time you finish reading it, you’ll agree that it’s a good idea to hire an appraiser too!
Navigating the Claims Process
As mentioned above, even though homeowners pay an insurance premium, that doesn’t always mean the insurance company has the homeowners’ interests at heart. Homeowners want to get the most they can out of their claim. Insurance companies want to minimize the amount they have to pay on a claim. Both positions are, quite frankly, at odds with one another. You may also have a contractor involved in the claims process at this point too and they may be offering different estimates that may be higher than what an insurance company is willing to pay.
In fact, you may find that the field adjuster sent out by the insurance company may deny your claim or offer a lower amount than anticipated. Fret not, as a homeowner, you have rights in this situation. You can ask the claims department to send out another person to complete the inspection. This route is akin to getting a second opinion from the doctor. If the claims department requests a reason for requesting a second opinion, you can simply point out that you and/or your contractor do not agree with the first field adjuster’s opinion. The claims department may ask for specifics, this is where you will want to use your contractor’s estimate to back up your concerns.
Your Homeowners’ Policy as Insurance
Be certain to get your field adjuster’s estimate as well as your contractor’s estimate. Review both estimates as well as your homeowners’ insurance policy. Your insurance policy documents will outline exactly what is covered or not. You can frequently make a case by referring to the homeowners’ insurance policy and your coverages compared against the field adjuster and/or contractor. If your contractor already has experience with the insurance company, that will be helpful in getting an accurate estimate. However, contractors also have a stake in this process too. They want to successfully win a bid at a job that pays well.
In fact, in our educational series (such as this blog), Indy Roof Company advises homeowners to NOT hire a contractor that is willing to accept whatever estimate the insurance company gives. Your contractor should have their own estimate and know what the roofing repair or replacement should cost using quality materials and well-qualified labor. If the contractor is willing to accept any lowball estimates, that will likely show up in a low-quality install and a sub-par roof on your home. With all the money that roofing repair or replacement costs, the last thing you want is to have the job done poorly!
Appraising the Situation
At this point, you may be wondering if everyone is out to get you and/or nickel and dime you. While it may feel that way, honest companies such as Indy Roof Company truly do want the best for our customers, and not all roofing companies are created equal. You know the saying, “It’s not personal, it’s business”? It would do you well to keep that in mind as a homeowner. Empower yourselves by becoming familiar with the process, your rights, and do not be afraid to bring in additional parties to weigh in on estimates, claims, costs, etc. Arguably, the most powerful person a homeowner can bring in is a “Public Adjuster” or an “Appraiser”. The two terms are used interchangeably.
Public Adjusters work directly for the homeowner. They are akin to having a lawyer representing your interests and only your interest. They are not there for the contractor or the insurance company, they are there for YOU. Your contractor will likely have relationships already established with one or more public adjusters that they can refer to you. Like the field adjuster, the public adjuster will complete their own independent assessment of your roofing damage by doing a walk-through of your property. From there, they will develop their own estimate and negotiate directly with the claims department. If they cannot get your claim fully approved, they can hopefully help increase the current coverage.
Note, this avenue can require the most time of the claims process. However, it is worth it as it typically has the greatest rate of success. In fact, appraisal law is designed to keep for-profit insurance companies honest. For example, when insurance companies are developing their claims payout process, they often do not consider local building codes. The result is that their claims paid out typically violate building codes and leave the homeowner on the hook for remediation of any code violations. Independent appraisers directly consider building codes when developing an estimate and provide justification as to why insurance companies should increase their current coverage to take building codes into consideration and pay a reasonable amount to ensure all roofing repair and/or replacement is done to code.
Not Endorsed by Insurance Companies!
Insurance companies are typically not happy about an appraiser being brought in. You know why? Because it usually doesn’t work in their favor and ends up costing them money. The homeowner should plan on pushback from the insurance company and/or settlement offers from insurance companies to quickly settle the claim and move on before an appraiser can get involved. Do not feel bad for the insurance company, while you have your own appraiser, they will have their own appraiser too. The role of both appraisers at this point is independent. Neither have a financial stake in the matter. Neither work with the insurance company.
How the appraisal process works:
- The homeowner obtains an independent appraisal (frequently recommended by their contractor
- The insurance company obtains their own appraisal (working independently at this point
- Both appraisers inspect your property (either separately or together)
- Both appraisers begin negotiating towards a settlement independent of the insurance company’s biases
- Both appraisers hopefully reach an agreement that fully indemnifies (compensates) the homeowner for any damages
- In the event that both appraisers cannot come to an agreement, a third party “umpire” becomes involved
- Your claim is either approved or denied
- If approved, work can begin!
Do not let the concept of an “umpire” scare you. It is an uncommon situation. We only mention it here because it can happen on occasion. If an umpire becomes involved, their decision is final and both appraisers agree to abide by their decision.
It should also be forewarned that this process can drag out anywhere between 2-12 months. Which leads us to our next point, finding a reputable contractor that is willing to fight for you no matter how long it takes.
Wait…What’s This Gonna Cost?
As mentioned above, a reputable contractor should agree to cover the appraisal fees out of the insurance scope at no additional charge to you. They should also be willing to endure the delay that an appraisal process causes. Indy Roof Company does not charge its customers for this valuable service. We understand that it only serves to help both the customer and contractor maximize the insurance bid. Therefore, it is our policy to pass on the savings, not the cost, to our customers.
An analogy that is helpful to consider is the $5 steak from a greasy spoon diner or the $5 steak from the best steakhouse in town. What that means is if you had to spend $5 on a steak anyway, would you choose the one from the local greasy spoon diner or the one from the best steakhouse in town?
Basically, the homeowner has to pay their deductible regardless. The cost of an appraiser should come out of the contractor’s end. A high-quality contractor will not only support the use of an appraiser, but they will encourage it! In fact, they may already have relationships established with quality appraisers that they can recommend to you! Using an appraisal process should not cost the homeowner additional money beyond what they were already paying anyway. It may take a little more time, but it can yield favorable results! Your contractor should be getting you the best steak you could possibly get for your money!
Homeowners may get frustrated with the first part of the equation, the “wait” part. Yes, waiting can be cumbersome, slow, and frustrating. However, we promise that it is worth the wait and patience. Below are some considerations and advantages to waiting:
- Maximize your insurance claim that you pay premiums on
- Possibly less money out of pocket beyond the deductible
- You pay the same deductible either way
- Play the long game to get the best outcome possible
- Don’t fall prey to the insurance company’s games or profit-seeking ways
When homeowners exercise patience and refuse to quickly settle or accept insurance claims right away, they set themselves up to potentially receive far more than they would have if they simply settled. There is a reason why insurance companies want to quickly settle and avoid involving appraisals at all costs: it simply usually does not work in their favor!
Maximizing your Claim Since 2018
Indy Roof Company is a roofing company, not an insurance company. We are in it for the customers, not the quick buck. We care about the quality of the work we do and the integrity of our company values. How many roofing companies or insurance companies do you see developing a series of educational blogs and materials to better educate consumers on navigating roofing repair or replacement? Our goal is customer satisfaction; we believe in the quality and the work we do within our communities. We live, work, and play with the customers that we serve. They are our family, friends, neighbors, and community members. We would not sleep well at night if we were perceived as one of those fly-by-night unreputable roofing companies. We also hate seeing our customers lowballed with insurance claims that do not accurately cover roofing repair or replacement costs. Because then the difference has to come out of the homeowners’ pocket and it’s a significant investment.
The way we see it, homeowners pay insurance premiums for a reason. They should have those insurance premiums work for them when they actually need it. So, even if it makes us unpopular or makes us the bad guys in the eyes of the insurance company, we’ll tell it like it is. We tell customers that they can take a definite “no” from the insurance company right off the bat or use the appraisal process to get a probable “yes” and possibly an increase later. We think it’s better to wait a bit and get a better outcome if possible.
If your contractor is balking at this or does not want to cover the cost of the appraisal, then you may want to find a new contractor! Also, not to brag or anything, but we complete approximately 500 appraisals each year with a win rate of 95%. We’re kinda pros at this, which is yet another reason to choose Indy Roof Company for all of roofing needs! We’ve got you covered… in more ways than one! That’s just who we are and what we do!