All too often, we receive messages from new clients that have had their homes damaged during a hail storm. They initiated a claim for their loss with their insurance company, who sent out a field adjuster to complete an inspection. Upon completing the inspection, the adjuster made the decision to deny the claim for a hail loss.
These denials are referred to as “bad faith,” meaning that legally, the insurance company should NOT have a reason to deny your claim. The big insurance companies figured out that when they deny your claim, there is only a small chance that you will fight the denial. Even if you are one of the few that fight them and they end up paying your claim, they still come out way ahead and pocket millions of dollars extra each year.
Find out why your claim was denied
When a hail claim (or any claim) is denied, a written explanation must be provided within 15 days of you providing all requested information. The letter should give you clear, specific reasons for the denial, and should reference the section of your policy that supports the denial. If you don’t have a denial letter, insist on one from the insurance company or adjuster.
Review your insurance policy
It’s important to understand your insurance policy. The insurance company acts in bad faith if hail damage is covered, you have hail damage, and the claim is denied. You should then compare the denial reason(s) with the language cited in your policy. If the reasons are ambiguous or vague, you should request further clarification in writing from your insurance company.
Make sure you document everything about your claim starting with the date the damage occurred, details of the damage, and photos or videos. Of course you’ll want to keep a copy of the claim and any correspondence you receive related to the claim. Finally, make sure you notate all conversations with dates, times, and names of each interaction you have related to the claim.
Rarely do they refuse a second inspection. When a reinspection is requested, the insurance company will often send a different adjuster out or even a supervisor. Sometimes, the original adjuster will come back out alone or along with his or her supervisor to reinspect it, especially if the roof was wet during the first inspection or if the adjuster did not get on the roof to inspect closely.
The claim handler may ask for photos of the damages prior to sending out another representative. Your roofer should be able to take these for you and make them available to the designated decision maker. We have seen roof replacements approved based on the photos, especially if the insurance company is very busy or based in different geographical area and are unable to easily have a representative stop back by.
Occasionally a team of adjusters will come out together. If your roofing contractor inspects your home and finds storm damage, it is wise to include him in that meeting to present those damages. He needs to be experienced and comfortable meeting with insurance adjusters, even if outnumbered five to one. The goal is never to punish or embarrass a professional insurance adjuster, but simply to provide the opportunity to present the actual damage to the insurance representative who will objectively inspect the damaged area.