Beware: Some contractors in Florida have been offering homeowners free roofs and offering to handle the insurance claim in exchange for signing what is called an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract. This may allow the contractor to charge high fees and sue your insurance company. In Florida, it is against the law for contractors to file or negotiate an insurance claim and by signing an AOB contract you are giving up all your rights to the insurance claim. Do not lose control of your claim. Legislation to address this problem is pending.
In the property insurance claim business many of the insured perils result in roof damage. This can be from windstorm (which includes hurricanes and tornadoes), hail, fire, explosions, sinkholes, and collapse to name a few. It is not uncommon for the roof to be breached by an insured peril, thus resulting in a variety of additional damages to the interior of the building, its equipment and contents. Failure of a roof’s system can often result in a total loss to the interior building finishes as well as the contents.
Each roof damage case comes with its own set of unique factual circumstances. In all cases your professional public adjuster at Tutwiler & Associates must consider:
- Evidence of the insured peril that caused the damage
- The age and condition of the roof
- The type of roof system involved: asphalt shingle, built-up flat roof, ceramic or metal tile roof, sheet metal, reinforced thermoplastic membrane, spray polyurethane foam, etc.
- What maintenance records are available?
- Building codes (especially a thorough understanding of the 25% Reroofing Rule) must also be considered.
Obvious evidence of damage includes: uplifted roof membrane, missing and broken shingles, gouge marks from flying debris, buffeting of the roof membrane, scouring of shingles, missing or broken roof sheathing, broken or missing roof trusses to name a few. Remember published research has reported that a modest breach of a building’s envelope will likely increase internal pressure causing uplift or perhaps a blowout of a wall system. This research goes on to say that a roof panel removal by wind uplift can increase the magnitude of losses on the order of 80% of the total insurance claim!
Some examples of not-so-obvious damages are: built-up flat roofs that do not show obvious exterior damage but have multiple leaks that were not present prior to the insured event; cracking on the underside of the flat roof membrane; and torqueing of roof equipment such as A/C units that can break the membrane and cause leaking. Separation or uplifting of the nails between roof trusses and roof sheathing caused by uplift forces can be an indicator of high wind pressure. These are typically the cases where no agreement can be reached with the carrier’s adjuster. Therefore, it is generally wise to consult a roofing expert and a structural engineer all of which will be coordinated with the help and input of the professional public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates.
With the owner’s permission, roof cutouts may be taken in order to analyze the necessary core samples. Most insurance policies are written to exclude maintenance issues and preexisting conditions of your roof. However, that’s not to say that simply because a roof is old, that damage from an insured event isn’t covered. It is. The key factor sometimes comes from separating the old damage from the new damage and it is in these cases where you would be well served to have the public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates on your side. We also see cases where initial inspection by a carrier results in a payment that is inadequate to effectuate full repairs for the damages sustained.
If you have suffered a roof failure particularly in a catastrophic loss environment like a hurricane, your first duty is to try and mitigate damages. You must try to protect and prevent further damages which can be a challenge. Decisions as to whether to put on a temporary roof or make a replacement will need to be made and in some emergency cases without the input or authority of the insurance adjuster sent out by your insurance company. Documenting and making the right decisions can have an impact on your claim.
The burden of proof is on you, the policyholder, to mitigate as well as prove your claim. Having Tutwiler and Associates on your side helps you prove your case as well as provide you with our experience and guidance in dealing with many types of roof losses which frequently results in full payment of your damages.