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Scott promptly came out to the home and climbed up on the roof to evaluate the damages. He spent more time than the insurance adjuster did to adequately review and document the entire roof and damages from the claim. Scott explained to us the entire process without any pressure to sign if we weren’t ready to move forward. Orlando Homeowner

Understanding Roof Damage Claims

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 when they refuse to pay. 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.

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.

Roof Collapse from Snow

Roof Collapse from the weight of snow and ice is a common insurance claim areas that experience heavy snowstorms. Snow can build up on a roof and add tremendous amounts of extra weight to the roof. What happens if it proves too much and your roof collapses? If you have homeowners insurance, you should be covered but remember you’ll still have to pay a deductible.

Not all coverage is the same however. With roof collapse due to snow and ice, insurers look at several variables before deciding what to pay. The age of your roof, the condition of your roof at the time of loss, maintenance and even how well your gutters work can impact the claim. So it’s important to keep records. Letting a public adjuster that works for you review all these variables can have an impact on how the claim is presented to your insurance company.  

 

 

FAQs About Roof Damage

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The most immediate thing you should do, and what your insurance policy requires is for you to mitigate your damages. That means having temporary repairs done to your roof/other building areas to try to stop additional damage from occurring, such as by water intrusion. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS BEFORE ANY TEMPORARY REPAIRS ARE DONE; YOU MAY NEED THIS FOR EVIDENCE LATER. We can have an experienced adjuster meet with you and inspect your property within 24 hours, or at a time you are able to meet. At that time we can discuss a contractual relationship with you to handle your hurricane claim. The association president will need to be available for signature.
It may depend on what state you reside in and what your local building codes are. In Florida, it certainly sounds like a case can be made for replacement of your entire residential roof tiles and underlayment. Florida building code basically says (and we are paraphrasing here) that if you have 25% or more of your roof damaged within a 12 month period, then the entire roof must be replaced. It sounds like in addition to the tiles, the underlayment needs replacement to stop your leaks and you may need to have the roof sheathing renailed to code. Most residential policies have what is called “Ordinance and Law” coverage to pay for the increased cost of code upgrades.
Not likely. In the absence of an insured peril occurring (hurricane, tornado, fire, explosion, hail, collapse, etc) your insurance would likely deny this type of claim. Typically, the normal aging of the roof (“wear and tear”) as well as pre-existing and maintenance type problems are not covered.

In Florida there is something called the 25% rule which basically is a law and ordinance issue. If it applies to your roof AND you have law and ordinance coverage you should be able to collect for the total replacement of your roof under this coverage as long as you actually do the work. Law and ordinance coverage requires you to incur the cost of the repair and then submit for reimbursement.

I am somewhat concerned that an umpire is ready to sign your award. I hope the appraisal folks took into consideration this important issue and put a line item on the appraisal award form for law and ordinance coverage. If they did, then once you make the replacement, send in the award with the paid invoice to your insurance company and request payment. If they did not, you should notify the insurance company of your claim for law and ordinance coverage.

Finally if you are awarded the full replacement cost of your roof in the appraisal and are paid this amount then you are good to go. Law and ordinance needs to be looked at in all roof claims if that coverage is available and you have over 25 % of your roof damaged.

This certainly sounds like the type of situation where we can be of service. You will need to make continued efforts to stop your roof leaks by means of additional temporary repairs. Notify your insurance company in writing of the action you are taking to reduce your damages. Take photos before and after to document your roof damage. Not only can Tutwiler and Associates assist in your roof and building loss claim, but we also have business interruption specialists on staff to assist with your loss of rents, and extra expense coverage.
The impact of hail can loosen and remove the granules on the surface of the shingles. Many times heavy accumulation of granules will appear in your gutters or areas beneath your eave. There are frequently dimples on your shingles that may be round, half-round or crescent shaped indentions. Often there are also dents in the metal components of the roof such as flashing, ridge vents and vent stacks. Most homeowner policies do cover the perils of windstorm and hail to your building. Tutwiler and Associates can help sort out the old and new damage to help you get full benefits under your policy.
One test frequently used is a wind up-lift test that can tell if the roof has separated from its sub surface attachment. Another test is a moisture survey. Both test may be needed and should be coordinated by the professionals at Tutwiler & Associates. We know the team to assemble to get the test completed as well as the type of presentation required to make the argument for a replacement if the facts warrant it. Our years of experience on roof damage claims has been that unless the roof is completely blown off, there will be arguments on the extent of damage. The insurance carrier will also question if the damages now being claimed are old and pre-date the loss.
The bottom line is that if your roof is damaged for more than 25% of its total then the building officials should not give you a permit to repair. Thus you must conform to code by replacing it. The building officials are the law and ordinance people and if you have the coverage (which you should have unless you rejected it or you are covered by a Surplus Lines carrier or Citizens) the company will need to pay you only IF you have completed the work to conform to the building code.

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Local Office

Charles R. Tutwiler & Associates Inc., DBA Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters
Licensed Public Insurance Adjusters & Loss Consultants
Offices: Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm City, Ft. Myers, Florida; Dallas, TX; Pittsburgh, PA

Executive Office
4300 W. Cypress St.
Suite 780
Tampa, FL 33607
Phone: 813.287.8090
Toll Free: 800.321.4488

Licensed in Florida # W840088 &
Texas #1399706 plus 16 other states
and the Virgin Islands