Insurance Appraisal: You Have An Option If Your Insurer Denies A Claim For Your Roof

Posted on: 9 June 2016

A hail storm -- or maybe a wind storm -- passed through your neighborhood. If you sustained damage to your roof, you may not be concerned. After all, that's why you have homeowner's insurance, right? You probably expect that your policy will cover wind or hail damage to your roof.

Overall, wind and storm damage are a common reason for homeowners to file a claim -- for example, State Farm alone paid out nearly $3.9 billion in 2012. But it's not unusual for insurance companies to deny claims for storm damage to roofs, especially older roofs. Often, policies don't cover the replacement cost of your roof, because the insurer will prorate for the age of your roof. Sometimes, claims are flat out denied.

What Can You Do if Your Claim is Denied?

You do have some recourse if you aren't able to get your insurance company to pay your claim for roof damage. You may decide to hire an attorney to plead your case with the insurance company, but that can get expensive -- lawyers will take a cut of whatever award they earn for you.

Another option is insurance appraisals. Appraisal is a bit like meditation; it's a way for a neutral professional to evaluate your claim and get a fair resolution.

How Do Insurance Appraisals Work?

Your insurance company may have a set method for how to request and work through an appraisal, but a typical process goes something like this:

  1. You submit a written request for an insurance appraisal.
  2. You select a qualified appraiser, who may be a public adjuster or third-party professional appraiser.
  3. Your insurance company selects an appraiser. This may be someone who has helped the company before -- it's okay if they have an existing relationship as long as they are not employees of the company and disclose any work they've done for the company in the past.
  4. The two appraisers select an umpire. If they can't agree, a judge may make the selection. 
  5. Each appraiser does an independent evaluation and determines the value of the property and the total loss. If the two amounts substantially disagree, the umpire makes the final decision.

The final decision is considered to be binding to both you and the insurance company, but in some limited circumstances, the insurer can still deny your claim. However, in most cases, you'll be able to collect some amount on your claim and move forward.

If your roof has been damaged by weather and your insurance company is balking at making a fair payout, talk to an insurance appraiser about what options you have.