Texas has a higher incidence of hailstorms per year than any other state, so it is vital to procure insurance that will cover roof damage from hailstones. State Farm offers roof and property damage coverage from hailstorms for both home and business owners, but how can you tell if it will pay a fair amount for your claim? Attorney Bill Voss explores the process of filing a hail damage claim with this popular insurance provider, and what you can do if your claim is underpaid.
When Will State Farm Pay Hail Damage Insurance Claims?
Most homes and businesses are equipped with composite asphalt roofing, which can take years to show the full impact of hail damage. As a result, policyholders may actually be better off making claims for damage that seems minor before the total damage snowballs into a larger (and higher-cost) problem.
State Farm has issued its own operation guidelines directing its claims handlers on when hail and wind damage to composition roofs may be covered. Those guidelines include:
- Granular loss. The company warns its employees that granular loss occurs naturally during the weathering process, and that granular loss itself is not covered “since it does not affect the watertight integrity of the roof.” However, the company does admit that granules are necessary for blocking ultraviolet light from the asphalt layer, and adjusters may consider paying the claim when there is “excessive granular loss accompanying actual roof damage caused by hail,” as long as it affects the integrity of the roof.
- Wind damage. The company acknowledges that wind can cause a shingle’s seal to break, resulting in the bending, breakage, or loss of shingles. However, it does not specifically offer a guideline to adjusters when such losses should be covered.
- Unsealed shingles. Claims adjusters are directed to take careful note of any unsealed shingles that are discovered during the inspection, and question whether the bond of the sealant was broken by “accidental direct physical loss” (such as evidence of tearing on the shingle below or sealant residue underneath the shingle).
In general, State Farm’s guidelines indicate that damage will be covered on roof coverings “when water shedding ability or the life expectancy of the material is reduced.”
Insurers Often Look for Ways to Deny and Underpay Hail Claims
In its customer handouts, State Farm warns that not all houses are created equal: even if many houses in a neighborhood are damaged, the insurer evaluates each roof individually because the size of hailstones can vary widely, even across a small area.
State Farm offers its own advice to consumers on what they may expect when filing a claim, which include:
- Initial inspections. After a customer makes a claim, he or she will be contacted by a State Farm claim representative for an initial inspection visit. Claim representatives typically visit the most severely damaged properties first, so customers who have suffered smaller damages may wait longer for inspection than other customers.
- Advance payments. If a customer is unable to occupy the structure safely before repairs are made, State Farm offers advance payments to cover transitional expenses. Customers are advised to save receipts for these costs.
- Damage estimates. A State Farm claim representative is entrusted to estimate damage to a customer’s property. The company allows that it may be necessary to a contractor or engineer inspect the damage on the company’s behalf, and customers may “feel free to obtain [their] own contractor's estimate.”
- Payment. Once the extent of the damage has been established, State Farm offers an initial payment for the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged structure. Some customers may be able to collect additional payment once repairs are completed, if their policies include replacement cost provisions or other endorsements.
The important thing to note in these procedures is that the company uses its own adjusters and inspectors to estimate the damage to your property—and these people are employed to save the company money. If you do not hire someone to inspect your property on your behalf, you have no way of knowing if the value you receive is enough to cover the damages.
If you are having trouble collecting full and fair payment, fill out the form on this page today to contact the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.