Thanks to a Florida Statute (627.70132), that gives homeowners three years to file an insurance claim related to hurricane damage, Floridians have until September 10, 2020 to file for Hurricane Irma damages. Increasingly, though, they may not be happy with their insurers’ initial rulings.
According to Mike Whitten, Vice President of Operations for the Southern Division of American Building Contractors, insurance companies seem to be increasingly resistant to covering roof replacements as more time passes since the hurricane hit. Whitten estimates that approximately 75% of his recent clients are initially denied coverage, and that denials are especially common for older roofs.
“The majority of the time, what happens is the insurance company comes out and brings their own engineer that writes a report of no [hurricane] damage. They always attribute it to pre-existing conditions such as: age, wear and tear, deterioration or foot traffic,” Whitten said.
If a roof’s damage is indeed a result of aging, and not a result of the hurricane’s wrath, homeowners will typically be responsible for footing the entire bill themselves. However, Whitten said that in many cases, Hurricane Irma really is responsible, and that American Building Contractors can help customers prove it.
Proving that damage was caused by Hurricane Irma — not aging
In spite of a high rate of initial denials, Whitten encourages homeowners to get a second opinion and further investigate the damage.
That’s because there are often clear signs that a roof was affected by a hurricane. After an initial consultation, American Building Contractors will send an engineer of their own to look for those signs, helping their customers build a case to refute the denial.
“You look for up-lift,” Whitten explained. “If you can lift the tile up more than two inches, then the wind affected tile is considered damaged according to the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance.”
The engineer hired by American Building Contractors will then develop an independent report noting the totality of the damage to include broken, cracked, displaced or up-lifted tiles and explain why replacement is necessary. Often, the report alone is enough to convince an insurance company to reverse their decision and agree to fund the roof replacement.
When the engineer’s report alone isn’t enough to overturn a negative decision, American Building Contractors will then try a different route: they can direct the client to a law firm that the company has an ongoing relationship with. Often, said Whitten, a lawsuit isn’t even necessary; a mere phone call from an attorney to the insurance carrier may be enough.
Honoring the spirit of the three-year statute
Insurance companies refusing to cover older roofs and saying that roof damage is a result of aging goes against the spirit of the three-year statute. The statute was intended to give homeowners sufficient time to become aware of damages and file their claims without being penalized for waiting, Whitten said. American Building Contractors’ extensive efforts on behalf of their customers help to uphold that spirit.
After all, there are many valid reasons that it can take people some time to file a claim. Some people don’t file right away because they’re snowbirds, and only spend a few months of the year in Florida. Others don’t initially want to pay for their deductible but change their mind when they realize the full value of getting the rest of their roofing costs covered. Still others filed a claim shortly after Irma but were denied, the damage was under their deductible or they didn’t realize that they had any recourse until hearing about companies like American Building Contractors.
Streamlining the refutation process for customers
Since American Building Contractors has seen so many cases where initial denials are reversed, the company covers the cost of sending out an engineer itself, at no risk to customers.
If American Building Contractors is successful in obtaining a full roof replacement from the customer’s insurance company, all the customer has to pay is their deductible. If not, the customer will walk away with no bills. To date, the approach has been successful — the company has replaced over $100 million worth of roofs locally since Hurricane Irma hit, and that number is only growing.
For more information on how American Building Contractors can help you prove hurricane damage to your roof, schedule a consultation.