Insurance companies are profit-oriented, so they often offer a low settlement for roof damage. Learn about how to dispute a roof damage settlement in Florida.
A roof is an integral part of a house. It does not only have aesthetic value; it protects the house's occupants. Unfortunately, like most things in life, roofs have an expiry date. When it is old, the homeowner has no option other than to change it. But sometimes, events like natural disasters can lead to the destruction of the roof.
When this happens, your homeowner's insurance policy covers the damage. Unfortunately, while this sounds simple enough, insurance companies deny insurance claims more often than they grant them. While their reason is sometimes legitimate, it could also be in bad faith. You should seek legal advice from a roofing lawyer in such an instance.
There's another scenario where the insurance company accepts your roof claim but offers you a low settlement. Here, you can dispute such a settlement if you do not agree. To do this, you need the best insurance claim attorneys.
At VG Law Group, we understand the roof damage insurance claim process and offer excellent legal representation to homeowners. So, contact us immediately if your homeowner's insurance company denies you insurance payment. But first, let's discuss ways you can dispute a roof damage settlement.
What Type of Damage Does a Homeowner's Insurance Cover?
Typically, the insurance policy sold to homeowners covers catastrophic roof damage. However, it does not cover damage from the homeowner's negligence. So, while your insurance covers major disasters like fire, it will not cover you intentionally damaging your roof. So, if the harm to the rooftop is covered in the policy, the insurance provider will cover the repair costs after assessing the claim's value.
Below, our experienced lawyers discuss the type of roof damage covered by homeowners insurance.
Florida is known for severe weather. Homeowners face the threat of hail damage, flood damage, strong winds, and tornado plagues yearly. These natural disasters can damage the entire roof, leaving the homeowner with costly repair bills running into thousands of dollars. Thankfully, their insurance policy covers it.
Homeowner’s insurance covers accidental fires. So, suppose you accidentally left your stove on while you ran to the nearby grocery store. If your home catches fire, your policy will cover the repairs. But if the fire is intentional, any roof insurance claim to your insurance company will fail because it is arson.
If a falling tree causes roof damage, your homeowner’s policy will cover it. However, note that your policy will not cover all falling tree damage. The insurance adjuster will inspect the damage to determine if the fall was weather-related or from neglect. The content of the inspection report determines if you get a roof damage claim settlement.
Although it is not as common as falling trees, fire, a hail storm, or flood insurance claims, roof vandalism does occur. Vandalism is damage to someone's personal property, in this case, the roof. Therefore, insurance carriers generally include vandalism in an all-risks or all-peril policy unless specifically omitted.
Generally, it is possible to get additional coverage for your roof. But most coverage is under the umbrella of your property insurance policy or comprehensive homeowners' insurance policy. As a result, if your roof damage causes interior damage — e.g., a leaking roof destroying your furniture — your insurance will handle the replacement cost.
There are some damages that the homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover. The first is pest damage. Pest control is your responsibility and is not included in your insurance coverage. As such, your insurance company will not pay for a roof repair caused by pest damage unless it leads to a disaster. An example is a squirrel causing a fire by gnawing on an electrical wire.
The second instance is wear and tear due to the roof age. Again, an old roof will experience problems, so schedule regular roof inspections with professional roof repair contractors. Note that your homeowner's policy does not cover inspections and maintenance because they are preventative works.
Lastly, your insurance money does not cover cosmetics loss or damage. The latter refers to the altering of the physical appearance of the rooftop. For example, high winds may only rip off a few shingles from the roof. So, your insurance provider may choose not to pay the money for such minimal repair. However, they can also choose to cover the repair, but it may cause your insurance rates to go up.
As your experienced home insurance attorney would tell you, the success or failure of a claim dispute starts from the filing state. So, if you need to file one and are unsure of what to do, contact a roof damage attorney. But below, we share steps on how to file roof damage claims.
Before filing a claim for roof damage, you need to schedule an inspection with an independent and reputable roof inspector or licensed contractor. This is different from a regular inspection, so do this before insurance company adjusters inspect the damage. Plus you'll get a neutral evaluation. If you don't know where to find a reputable inspector, insurance claim attorneys can help you find one.
Find out if your policy covers your roof damage. Also, find out the extent of the policy benefits. For example, the coverage may be for roof repair and not for roof replacement. It could also be only for a part of the roof and not the entire roof. In addition, note the policy limits and any provision for deductibles. After reading the policy, if there are gray areas, contact your insurance agent or property damage attorney.
Insurance adjusters and your claim handler would need proof of the roof damage. So, you need to document the roof damage. The best evidence is before and after photos of your roof and home exterior and receipts. So, suppose there is news of high winds coming to your city, take photos of your roof. This way, you can show how it looked before the wind damage. If you need any more evidence, your roofing attorney will inform you.
An insurance claims dispute for settlement is different from a claim denial. A claim denial means after the insurance adjuster carries out a professional inspection of the damage, they did not offer you a settlement agreement. Usually, they do this when they find fault with your claim, or you brought the claim after the expiration of the filing time limit.
Alternatively, you may get a settlement agreement after filing your roof insurance claim. But it may not be a fair settlement. The actual cash may be less than your policy limit and can only serve for temporary repairs and not permanent repairs. If this happens to you, you can dispute the settlement offer.
Below are ways to do this.
If you failed to review your policy before commencing the roof damage claim, now is the time to do so. First, go through the policy to ensure you did not miss anything vital. Next, ensure your claim is within your insurance limit and not above it. Finally, if you find you're on the right side of the facts, get an experienced roofing attorney involved.
You or your insurance lawyer should contact the insurance company through written correspondence. In the letter or email, state why you are disputing the settlement. Additionally, attach repair estimates, and what it is expected to cover. If your policy includes replacement cost coverage, attach the replacement estimate.
Suppose the insurance company argued the low settlement was based on the adjuster’s estimates. Hire a public insurance adjuster to evaluate the damage and come up with an estimate. Their report will be harder for your insurer to dispute. Lastly, attach any additional new evidence to get you a fair settlement.
If your insurance provider does not budge after doing the above, you have two options. First, you can escalate your complaint to the Florida Insurance Regulating Agency or file a civil lawsuit. If you go with the agency, you might sit in on a mediation conference with your insurer.
However, if the mediation program fails, the court may be your last option. If you wish to file a lawsuit, you should contact an insurance litigation attorney. Don't worry about attorney fees, as your lawyer will develop an arrangement that benefits you both.
Insurance carriers have an experienced legal team working for them. So, you can't go against them alone. You need insurance lawyers who will offer you expert legal advice through the claims process. In addition, we will work with public insurance adjusters to get the right estimate for your repairs.
If need be, our insurance litigation attorneys will represent you in court until we get your deserved policy benefits. Our sole goal is protecting your rights and getting you the compensation you deserve. So contact us today at VG Law Group for a free review of your case.