After a hurricane has spared your business, you may be tempted to continue operations as though nothing has happened. However, it is always a good idea to have your commercial structure inspected after a hurricane, even if the damage appears to be minor. Attorney Bill Voss explains how business owners can perform comprehensive post-hurricane inspections, as well as why regular roof inspections can help save money in the long run.
Steps to Take While Performing a Commercial Roof Inspection
If your roof suffered damage that allows water to enter the structure, flooding could continue to pose a risk to your business years after the storm has passed. A failure to claim roof damage as part of your hurricane insurance claim can hurt you in many ways. First, by lowering your repair estimate for your current claim. Next, the repairs you make inside are likely to suffer water damage when the roof begins to leak. Finally, when you attempt to claim for roof damage in the future, your insurer may deny coverage due to pre-existing roof damage, leaving you paying out-of-pocket costs for your losses.
After a major weather event, business owners should protect their investments by:
- Clearing away debris quickly. If your roof is flat and the structure is stable, it is a good idea to remove any branches, leaves, outdoor furniture, or other debris that has been blown onto the roof. Sticks and branches can hide damage underneath as well as encourage mold and insect growth that leads to future losses.
- Watching for water indoors. Water may begin to make its way down from the roof in any number of ways—and while a dripping ceiling may be the most obvious sign of a leak, it is not the most common. Water may cause portions of drywall to swell, result in a musty odor as it soaks into support beams, cause mold to spread across ceilings and walls, or even pool in the light fixtures or appliances.
- Scheduling a professional roofing inspection. Owners may be able to assess some of the damage from the ground or by standing on a ladder, but only an experienced professional will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the damage (and know how to avoid injuries).
- Double-checking the inspector. The inspection should carefully examine the tiles and shingles on the roof, but also gutters, leaf guards, downspouts, vents, and flashing around any openings (such as chimneys or skylights). The inspector should also check for exposed or missing roofing nails, take note of any areas where standing water has collected, and ensure that roof drains and lightning protection systems are intact and functional. Finally, he or she should check attic spaces and duct work for signs of water ingress.
- Scheduling repeat inspections. A roof inspection may be an inconvenient expense, but the benefits can prove to be worth the cost if damage occurs in the future. Inspections that occur once or twice a year allow you to compare past and present versions of roof conditions, allowing you to identify and fix any damage as quickly as possible. In addition, these surveys can be invaluable as evidence if your insurer attempts to deny a claim based on pre-existing loss.
Hurricanes can cause a wide range of damage to a business, and it is often the damage of forced closures that result in the biggest loss. Companies that are unable to operate at full capacity may see profit losses for months after the local economy has recovered, especially if an insurer is refusing to cover loss of business income.
If you are still struggling to get proper payment from an insurer after a hurricane, we can examine the terms of your policy and take over the fight on your behalf. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact an insurance attorney at the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.