If you find yourself in the position of having damage to your roof, your first thought might be to file a claim with your insurance company. However, you should not do so right away. Filing a claim may have an impact on your policy, so you should be very sure before you proceed.
Begin by reviewing your policy to understand what is covered and what your responsibility is. Then, have the roof inspected by an experienced professional. If the estimated repairs aren’t going to cost much more than your deductible, it is probably best to pay out-of-pocket. There is a limit to the number of insurance claims that you can make in a given period of time without affecting your premiums or even voiding your policy. Multiple claims within the same year are a big red flag to an insurance company.
Even talking to the insurance company may result in a report to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which maintains an “insurance score” for homeowners. This score affects your ability to be approved for new coverage with the same or a different insurer. This is another reason not to call the insurance company until you are sure you want to make a claim.
If the damage has resulted from wind or hail, this is considered an Act of God and should not affect your insurance rates. Earthquake and flood damage, however, are not usually covered. Other situations which are under your control, such as damage from low-hanging tree branches which could have been trimmed, may affect your policy. Typically, the first claim on a policy does not affect the premiums, either.
Claims may be denied if you are not up to date on your premiums or if you have failed to maintain the home satisfactorily. Termite damage, mold, and faulty plumbing which has been neglected are not covered by most policies.
If you do decide to file a claim, you should have your roofing contractor present when the insurance adjuster inspects your home. The contractor can help to assure that you get the full settlement to which you are entitled. The insurance company will naturally try to get away with paying as little as possible.
It is important to understand your home owner’s insurance policy and what is and is not covered, as well as what your deductibles are. If you have a roofing disaster, consider carefully before making a claim. To be safe, have the damage fully assessed and obtain an estimate on the repair before making any contact with your insurance company.