Two hail storms in one day! #Airdrie, AB, took a big hit yesterday (Aug 7, 2014), as did parts of north Calgary. See here for Twitter pics of Airdrie before and after the storm. [UPDATE on August 8, 2014: Hail hit Okotoks today!]
Seasoned veterans of hail storms in Calgary and area may already have contacted their insurance adjuster to initiate a claim and begin the process of repairs.
Here are five tips for homeowners that have experienced hail damage for the first time (OK, those going through the process for the second or third time might find them helpful too):
1) Contact your insurance company ASAP and ask about your options and their implications. This is especially important if you have just renewed your policy or signed on to a new one in the last couple of years. In light of all the hail damage that has occurred in Calgary and area over the last five years, some insurance companies have modified their policies with regard to deductibles and how they assess coverage and repairs. Be informed before proceeding.
This is why we recommend starting with your insurance company and not calling a contractor first. Not all contractors will know the latest details of your policy and what’s covered. If you call Epic, for example, we’ll gladly come by and provide a free estimate for repairs, but we are not in a position to tell you IF you’ll get coverage or how much.
To avoid unnecessary hassles, avoid contractors that want to lock you in to hiring them even before your insurance company has assessed damages or provided an estimate for repairs. If you choose not to use your insurance company’s preferred roofing contractors, be sure you know what to look for in a roofing contractor.
Also, note carefully what your current deductible is and be sure you understand if, or how, that value might change in the future.
2) Consider carefully the advantages of using an insurance company’s preferred contractor. Generally speaking, your workmanship warranty options are better and the responsibility for ensuring that the work is done properly lies with your insurance company. We have an article about that here.
3) Find out how long you have to make a claim. Many insurance companies give you two years from the date of loss to process repairs to your home, but it is up to you know the various deadlines involved. For example:
a) By when do you have to make a claim?
b) Does the work have to be finished within that window of time? Or just started?
4) Turn the hassle into an opportunity for increasing the value of your home. First of all, wait to find out exactly what will be covered before planning repairs or hiring a contractor. If your insurance company approves full replacement of your roof or siding or soft metals, pay careful attention to market trends and pick colours, styles, and products that are likely going to increase the appeal of your home.
REMEMBER: Insurance only pays for replacement, not upgrades, but investing in upgrades (even minor ones) has at least two advantages:
a) you can improve the quality of your home’s exterior envelope for a comparatively minor investment
b) given that most insurance policies require replacement of the existing quality of products on your home, if you get hit by hail again you will get the better quality products replaced
5) By starting the process immediately you will have more control of the timing of repairs. Depending on how many homes were hit in your area or surrounding communities, insurance agencies and contractors could be swamped. If you are one of the first in line, you will have a better chance of getting repairs completed within the next few months. If you wait a month or two, the process could take you well into the next calendar year. Thankfully, many contractors in Southern Alberta work through the winter (find out why), but if you have considered selling your home in the near future or are concerned to get work done before the snow flies, you should get started soon.
As a preferred roofing contractor for Alberta’s largest and best-known insurance companies, we have processed thousands of claims in Calgary and Lethbridge and surrounding areas. The tips above are based on our experience of working with insurance agencies and customers. When you call your insurance adjuster, ask for Epic and we’ll do our best to help you process your repairs with confidence.