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What can happen if you do not file a Hurricane Irma claim?
After the 3-year time limit has elapsed to file an insurance claim, insurance companies have the right to inspect your roof to determine if there is existing damage.
- If damage is found on your roof, your insurance company could drop insurance coverage on your home.
- If coverage is dropped, you could be forced to find a new insurance company.
- The new insurance company will most likely not approve your policy unless you provide a new roof at your own expense.
You may still qualify for insurance reimbursement for a new roof even if...
- Your claim was previously denied
- you received insurance reimbursement for repairs only
- You received a cost estimate for repairs less than your deductible
- You never filed a claim.
If your claim was previously denied
Most roof claims in Collier and Lee County, filed either by a Homeowner or Contractor, are initially “denied”. But many of these denials have been later overturned in court.
After a claim is filed an insurance company will often hire a Professional Engineer to inspect your roof and use the Engineer’s report as the basis for denying your claim. The insurance company is hoping that you will believe this professional-looking report and give up on this claim. However, we have seen many cases where claims made in the Engineer’s report are simply untrue.
Most of the Engineering Denial Reports that are produced will say things like:
- Tile cracks were caused by “foot fall” (this is a term meaning damage to tiles by someone walking on the roof). Some insurance companies like to blame all the broken tiles on your roof on people such as roof cleaners walking on your roof. When they say the tiles are broken from walking, our reply to them is “how come the engineer or adjuster did not break tiles by walking on the roof?”
- Cracked tiles were caused by “Thermal Contraction” (this is a term meaning the tiles were damaged from large changes in air temperature over a short period of time). This is laughable because we live in a climate where the temperature changes do not drastically change in a 24-hour period. Also, roof tiles used in Florida are typically designed to allow for thermal contraction cycles.
- “There was less than 25% damage to Roof”. If the Engineer finds a small number of broken tiles, they like to write in their report that the few tiles broken are not enough to require full replacement as per the Florida Building Code and can be repaired. The Florida Building Code does not require roof replacement if less than 25% of the tiles have been damaged. However, the Engineer’s Report will usually not mention that there was wind uplift damage (see next bullet point) or that under Florida Statute 626.9744 some tiles that are not damaged must still be counted in determining this percentage if replacement tiles cannot be found that match the quality, color or size of the damaged tiles.
- “Winds were not strong enough to cause tile damage”. This is also laughable and demonstrably belied by the large number of roofs that have been replaced in our area due to clear and significant damage from Hurricane Irma.
A significant amount of roof tile damage is not visible. Hurricane winds can cause roof tiles to lift up and become loose, without cracking. There are accepted industry standards for determining if tiles are loose. This determination can only be made by physically trying to lift the bottom edge of a tile using a certain amount of force. Most Engineers for the Insurance companies will not mention the nonvisible tile damage such as wind uplift. Many roofs are approved for replacement even though few tiles are cracked or broken.
If we find sufficient hurricane damage to your roof, there is a good chance your roof can still be approved for full replacement by your insurance company. If your hurricane claim was denied by your insurance carrier you can reopen the claim with one simple phone call to your insurance carrier.
If you received insurance reimbursement for repairs only
We have seen cases where homeowners paid a roofing contractor to make repairs to their roof after hurricane Irma, but were unaware that the damage to the roof was more extensive than what was indicated by the repair work that was done. In some of these cases, our inspection of the roof has uncovered substantial additional damage of which the homeowner was unaware.
If we find sufficient hurricane damage to your roof, we can submit for approval to your insurance carrier for a new roof even if you have already received payment for some repairs. Your claim is not necessarily closed because you received insurance proceeds for repairs. In fact, these are often the easiest claims for new roofs to get approved. If your insurance company has paid you for costs to repair your roof, then they have in effect also admitted that the hurricane caused damage to your roof. The admittance of this damage opens the possibility of getting your roof approved for full replacement. Even if there were only a relatively small number of visibly damaged tiles, you may still qualify for a full roof replacement under Florida statute 626.9744 (i.e. if replacement tiles do not match the quality, color or size of the tiles they replaced).
IF YOU NEVER FILED A CLAIM
Some homeowners think that if their roof is not leaking so there is no basis for an insurance claim for a full roof replacement. This is not necessarily correct. Or perhaps you paid for repairs to some visible tile damage and the cost was beneath the amount of your hurricane deductible so you didn’t file an insurance claim. You may in fact still have a valid claim for a new roof. In many homes some roof tiles are cracked, broken or missing but there is no visible leak. This is because there is an underlayment beneath the tile, and the underlayment is what actually keeps water out of the house. The primary purpose of the tile is to prolong the life of the underlayment and shed water. Tiles are not the waterproofing measures of your home. If there is sufficient damage to the tile you may qualify for a full roof replacement, even if the roof is not leaking, and even if you already made repairs to your roof.
Most tile damage cannot be seen from the ground, and as mentioned above wind uplift damage cannot be seen at all unless someone qualified physically tries to lift tiles to determine if they are loose. Many of the existing tile roofs in Florida were constructed with tiles that are no longer manufactured or available for purchase for repairs, in which case the door to a full roof replacement is possible.
If you received a cost estimate for repairs less than your deductible
This case is very similar to the one just above. The only significant difference is that you received no reimbursement from your insurance company. Nevertheless, damage to your roof may be more extensive than you are aware (e.g. from wind uplift), your claim is not necessarily closed, and your insurance company has in effect admitted that the hurricane caused damage to your roof.
WHAT IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE SAME INSURANCE POLICY NOW THAT YOU HAD DURING HURRICANE IRMA?
If you have changed insurance companies after Hurricane Irma you could still file an insurance claim with the insurance company that was active at the time of Hurricane Irma.