The Map To Follow When a Storm Damages Your Roof in Montana
Prior to starting in the roofing industry our house was hit by a record setting hail storm. Over 6,000 homes in the area were damaged. We were new to home ownership and had never filed an insurance claim. Up until that point, we thought we only had insurance on the house because the bank made us have it. Being uneducated is a dangerous place to be, and our goal with this article is to make sure you have the tools to know what to do if you are ever in the same situation.
1: Insurance Agent
Your insurance agent is a great resource and the best place to start. Mark Carll with AAA is a member of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and would be a great person to check with regarding any insurance related questions. You will want to have a base level of insurance knowledge so you know what questions to ask and why. Here is a list of some insurance information that we think every home owner in Kalispell, Montana should know.
Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value: Actual Cash Value (ACV) is what most people are familiar with when it comes to insurance policies. If you have ever been in a car accident and your vehicle was a total loss, you were likely paid the amount your car was worth at the time before the accident. Replacement Cost Value (RCV) is not common in the auto industry which is why many are unfamiliar with how it works. RCV is the most common type of homeowners insurance policy. In the event of a loss, your insurance company pays you the amount necessary to bring your property back to whole again. The ‘make whole’ is super important in Montana and I will tell you why in the next paragraph. Check and make sure your policy is RCV, if it isn’t, get it updated today.
August,20 2003: The date that Montana held the insurance companies accountable. John Morrison, the commission of insurance at the time, issued a memorandum on replacing damaged roofing materials, stating “It is the continuing position of this agency that under a ‘make whole‘ provision in any insurance contract, damaged roof materials must be replaced with similar quality, kind, texture and colored materials such that there is a reasonable match with any existing materials. In the event materials that meet this criteria are not available, the existing materials must be replaced to achieve a match”. What does this mean for a homeowner with a RCV policy? It means that if your property suffered roof damage and your shingles are no longer available, your roof will be covered for full replacement. If your shingles were installed prior to 2005, there is a strong chance there is not a match. Example, your roof is 22 years old, you have an RCV policy, a storm damages three of your shingles and you file a claim – if the shingle can’t be found to do a repair your insurance company will cover you for a full replacement minus your deductible.
Deductible: Questions relating to the deductible are some of the most common questions we get about insurance. To keep it easy, a homeowners policy has the same rules as an auto or medical policy. There are two main reasons so many homeowners have questions related to the deductible.
1) Mr. and Mrs. Smith had a hail storm damage the roof, gutters, siding, and garage doors. They hire four separate contractors to do the work and each contractor tells them they collect the deductible and then collect the insurance settlement upon completion (not a great way, but it is super common).
2) Your insurance company is going to send you two checks, the ACV and the deprecation so you won’t be able to do easy math right away with the money that is being sent to you.
The first reason is really the root of the problem and there is an easy answer. Here is an example that will give you what you need to know: Mr. and Mrs. Smith have $5,000 in roof damage, $2,000 in gutter damage, $5000 in siding damage, and $8,000 in garage door damage for a total claim of $20,000. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a $1,000 deductible so in total their insurance company is going to pay them $19,000. Mr. and Mrs. Smith take the $1,000 from their bank and add it to the account with the $19,000. Each trade is going to send you an invoice upon completion for the exact amount that insurance listed the damage and you pay for it out of the $20,000. To keep it simple, we recommend using a bank account solely for your claim.
2: Steps to Take
When our house was damaged from the storm we didn’t even know where to start. Here is a guide on what steps to take.
Inspection: Walk around your property and do a thorough inspection. Check the siding, see if any pieces are missing and lose, check your downspouts and make sure all parts are still there, check your landscaping and make sure nothing was damaged. Do a completed 360 degree walk around your house. Check the roof for anything that looks out of place, a shingle sticking up, shingles in the yard, granules coming out of the downspouts. Get your inspector hat on! If you notice damage take as many photos as you deem necessary. Documentation is always great when it comes to property damage. If you do notice damage, call your roofing contractor right away. If you don’t have a roofing contractor you trust, check with friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations. We recommend a contractor first because they will be able to do a more thorough inspection and help you determine if making an insurance claim is the right route to take.
Claim: If you and your contractor decide an insurance claim is the correct path call your agent immediately to make the claim. We recommend you send any inspection files that your contractor has given you and/or the photos you took during your initial inspection.
Contractor: If you haven’t already selected your contractor, now is the time. If you do have a contractor that has been helping you from inspection, make sure to give their number to your agent so the insurance adjuster and your contractor can meet at your property at the same time. If you haven’t selected a contractor yet, we recommend checking out our article on the ‘Top Three Questions You Need To Ask Your Storm Restoration Contractor’. Once you have selected a good contractor your work is done. They will help you through the process and make sure your insurance claim is well managed and completed. Insurance claims don’t need to be complicated – with a little information you can walk through them with ease.