hail damage

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Did you know that Illinois had the third most hail damage claims in the United States in 2018?  According to a claim report prepared by State Farm Insurance, they paid $330 million dollars in hail damage claims in 2018, with only Colorado ($600 million) and Texas ($437 million) suffering more damage.  Hail claims were down 36% nationally from the prior year, but still amounted to nearly $3 billion in paid losses.  While changing weather patterns from year-to-year accounted for some of the decrease in paid losses, modifications to home insurance contracts have also contributed to the decrease.

The most common coverage modification is a separate deductible for home insurance loss due to wind or hail, with the deductible equal to 1% to 5% of the amount of insurance on the home.  For example, if a home is insured for $500,000 and the policy includes a 2% wind/hail deductible, the loss to the roof must exceed $10,000 before the insurance company will pay.

Other insurance companies have added a depreciation table to their policies, which gradually shifts more of the cost of roof replacement to the customer as the roof ages.  For example, if your roof is asphalt shingles and 10 years old, the insurance company might apply 30% depreciation to the claim. 

While many of the hail losses can be attributed to changes in weather patterns, the prevalence of “storm chasers” has also contributed to these changes in coverage and premiums.  “Storm chasers” refers to aggressive roofing contractors who go door-to-door in neighborhoods after a storm, promising a free roof to unsuspecting homeowners. 

As noted by the Better Business Bureau and the Northern Illinois Home Builders Association, victims of storm damage should never sign a contract or pay a repair person who shows up on their doorstep, nor should they allow a roofing company to file a claim on their behalf. 

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While the promise of a “free” roof after a storm is appealing, we strongly recommend contacting your agent before filing a claim or signing a contract with a door-to-door roofing company.  Once a claim is filed, the insurance company must assign an adjuster, inspect the home, and review the estimate from the roofing contractor.  Experienced insurance adjusters know which contractors are “storm chasers” and which ones aren’t and are increasingly turning to third-party engineering reviews and historical storm data before agreeing to pay a claim.  If the insurance company denies the hail claim, the claim still counts as an “incident” that could result in a surcharge, and the data they gathered from the engineering report gives the company greater insight on the condition and upkeep of your home. 

We will advocate for our clients to ensure they get the coverage to which they are entitled; however, our ability to assist is greatly diminished when a contract has already been signed or a claim has been filed in haste.  Don’t jeopardize your homeowner’s insurance over the promise of a “free” roof. 

David Miller, who writes the monthly DID YOU KNOW? blog is The Plexus Groupe’s Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.