Hail Causes Roof Damage or Opportunistic Insurance Claims?

Posted by Jeff Aughey on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 4:30pm.

alpharetta real estateI’ve noticed an alarming trend lately in the Alpharetta and Johns Creek areas involving roofing companies and “hail damage” claims against homeowner policies.

There are roofing companies out there that appear to be “drumming” up business by soliciting unnecessary roof replacements that are paid for by homeowner’s insurance. The sales tools include area maps marked up with big red circles around areas that have experienced “hail activity” and yard signs.

It also tends to happen more with some insurance carriers than with others. I asked about it with one of these roofing companies recently and their first question was “Who is your carrier?” the second comment was “They are tough, you probably won’t get it.”

So I have to ask…

  • If a roof is 20 years old and has already seen its best years, how can a roofing company tell the homeowner that they only need to pay their annual deductible of, say $500-1000, and they will receive a new roof?
  • How much extra premium is tacked on to the homeowner over the course of years for such a claim and how much fleecing of the insurance companies is going on?
  • What are the insurance companies doing about this trend?

I went to my insurance agent, Rick Taylor, of State Farm with my questions. He said I’m right, and that there has been a problem with these type of claims lately. State Farm has been sending out their own inspectors when these types of claims are made. He said that AllState is now following State Farm’s lead and is now doing the same thing to protect their clients, but many of the smaller companies are still simply approving the claims.

Getting a new $8000 roof for a $500 deductible may sound like a great deal in the short term, but the rise in premiums isn’t. Rick said that the rate hike may be as much as 30% and that verifying legitimate claims and denying bogus ones protects his own clients’ insurance rates.

He relayed one incident where a homeowner called with concerns about their roof following a hail storm. He immediately sent out an inspector who took photos of the roof, and noted that was in good condition. Two weeks later, the homeowner called again, after a roofing company had sent someone up to inspect the roof. When the insurance inspector arrived a second time, there was intentional damage to the back side of the roof, apparently caused by a hammer.

Although this was a single incident, Rick warned that some unscrupulous roofers will stop at nothing to “create” business and he wants to warn and protect his lients from such poaching.

Want to learn more about roofing? Visit my eguides section on roofing.

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