Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on May 24, 2017 in Insurance Lawyers
Hail storms are all too common in Texas, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to cars, homes and other personal property each year.
In 2015 alone, hail storms caused $586 million in property damage, as The Lone Star State led the nation with 783 major hail events, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Hail storms were a big problem last year as well. In March and April of 2016, hail storms caused more than $4 billion in damage to thousands of homes, most of which were in San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This includes a hail storm that destroyed 80 percent of the homes in Wylie, Texas.
Fortunately, people who suffered property damage in a hail storm may be able to obtain insurance compensation for repairs or to replace property that is a total loss.
Unfortunately, many people believe common myths about hail damage insurance claims. In some cases, believing in these myths causes people to not file insurance claims. In other cases, myths cause people to not fight back if their insurance company denies their claim or offers an unfair settlement.
Below, Stephens, Anderson & Cummings' insurance bad faith lawyers reveal myths and facts about hail damage insurance claims. If you think you suffered property damage in a hail storm, review the facts about these myths so you can make informed decisions about a hail damage insurance claim.
These are some of the most common myths about hail damage insurance claims, along with the facts debunking them:
1. Do Not File a Claim for Roof Damage Unless You Can See the Damage
Some people wrongly assume that there was no damage if they do not see missing shingles. However, shingles are usually taken off a roof by wind, not hail. This is why insurance companies do not use missing shingles as an identifying criteria for hail damage.
Hail damage to the roof is often difficult to see from the ground. This is why you should have your roof inspected by an insurance adjuster who is trained to identify hail damage. An inspection by a roofer is not good enough because these people are usually not trained on identifying hail damage.
It is better to have an inspection than to assume there is no roof damage. If you are wrong, the damage could lead to leaks or other problems down the road and you might not be able to obtain insurance compensation for the damage that occurs.
2. Hail Damage to the Roof is Covered by the Warranty
This myth is common among people who recently had the roof on their house replaced or people whose houses have roofs that are still under warranty. Unfortunately, hail damage is often excluded from roof warranties offered by contractors, builders and manufacturers.
3. The Roof Sustained Minor Damage So it is Better to Not File a Claim
You should always report damage to your roof from hail, no matter how minor it may seem. If you do not deal with the damage now, it could lead to more costly problems later, like leaks.
4. My Insurance Company Will Cancel My Policy if I File a Claim
Under the Consumer Bill of Rights adopted by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), homeowner's insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in effect for 60 days or more unless:
- You fail to pay your premium on time
- You file a fraudulent claim
- There is a determination by TDI that continuing the policy would violate insurance laws
- There was an increase in the hazard your policy covers, provided the hazard was within your control and caused the policy premium to increase
5. If I Do Not File a Claim My Rates Will Not Increase
It is possible that your rates will increase after you file a claim. However, this could be because of factors you cannot control.
For instance, if a lot of other homes were damaged in the hail storm, a lot of people will likely file claims. Insurance companies often raise rates when they receive a lot of claims in a short period of time.
You should not let this deter you from filing a claim because it may be the only way to obtain the compensation you need to be able to repair the damage to your home.
You are going to pay the higher premium whether you file a claim or not. However, if you do not file a claim, the higher premium will fund other people's insurance claims while you get nothing.
6. The Insurance Company Denied the Claim So I Cannot Obtain Compensation
In some cases, you are out of luck when the insurance company denies your claim. However, there are other cases where the insurance company denied a perfectly legitimate claim for property damage from hail.
It is best to meet with an experienced insurance bad faith lawyer to review your situation. It is possible that the insurance company acted in bad faith and you could have more success by filing another claim.
7. There is a One Year Time Limit for Filing an Insurance Claim
The time limit for filing claims should be stated in your policy. It is better to double check your policy than to make an assumption about how much time the insurance company gives you to file a claim.
If the hail storm was severe enough that there is damage to many homes in a large geographic area, the insurance company could extend the deadline for filing a claim.
However, you should still file a claim as soon as possible. Waiting could arouse suspicion with the insurance company that you are just trying to get money and your home did not sustain damage.
8. Insurers Do Not Have to Pay to Replace the Roof
Sometimes insurance companies say they will only pay to repair the damaged sections of the roof rather than replace the whole thing. In some cases, this is a perfectly legitimate response.
However, it depends on the details of your policy. The insurance company may be offering to pay for sections of the roof because it costs less than replacing the whole thing.
It is best to consult an attorney to ensure you receive all of the compensation you deserve. You could void the warranty on the roof by repairing sections of it and not replacing the whole thing.
9.The Insurance Company Does Not Have to Pay if the Roof Was Improperly Maintained
This might be true, but you should not take the insurance company's word for it. The goal of every insurance company is to spend as little as possible on policyholders' claims. This means they will use every tactic they can think of to deny or devalue your claim.
You should review your policy or ask for an explanation from the insurance company about why it will not pay for repairs to the roof.
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