By James H. Bushart
Hail damage to a roof is a common occurrence and damage is often and routinely repaired at the expense of insurance companies.
For some insurance adjusters delaying, denying and defending a claim is also routine and are the three main strategies used to promote the financial interests of the insurance carrier at the expense of the insured.
As a part of this strategy when delaying, denying or defending a claim filed for hail damage to a roof, many claims adjusters (after making their own inspection and declaring that there is no damage to the roof) will arrange to provide an insured home owner with a “special service” by having an engineer evaluate the roof for damage, as well.
Evaluating the condition of a roof covering does not require an engineering background, but it does impress many people to see an engineer’s seal and signature under an observation. While making an effort to appear to be objective, and while still fully aware that future referrals and fees are at stake, the hired engineer will sometimes seek ways to confirm the initial finding made by the adjuster.
Here is one of the methods used to minimize observed hail damage to a roof while appearing to be objective and “scientific”.
In spite of the damage that is visible to the naked eye many engineer reports that have been used by insurance companies to deny claims that I have personally read will refer to an opinion that a “rate of acceleration” and “velocity” of the hail strikes were insufficient to cause “significant” damage to the roof coverings.
Sounds like some real indisputable engineering stuff, doesn’t it? At least, it does until one considers the following:
1. The storm has passed by the time the adjuster and engineer have examined the roof.
2. “Terminal velocity”, or the maximum speed reached by a falling object, is measured by a mathematical formula that takes into account the size of the hail stone and the high winds and gusts that can accelerate the speed of the hail stone.
3. The actual size of each hail stone that struck the roof … and the speed of the wind and gusts that drove the hail stone into the roof … cannot be determined by simply looking at the roof days, weeks, months or years after a storm.
4. Remarks that appear in the engineer’s report that address the sufficiency of the “velocity” or “rate of acceleration” to cause damage is pure speculation. The fact that it is being “speculated” by an engineer does not make it more than speculation. It is not factual.
The physical evidence of hail damage will speak for itself. Speculations as to velocity and acceleration that are provided from observations made days, weeks or months after the event are not factual and should not be allowed to be used to deny a claim in the presence of actual damage.
If you find references to “velocity” and/or “rate of acceleration” in any engineer’s report that supports your insurance company’s denial of your claim for roof damage caused by hail, request in writing that you be provided with the factors and formula(s) used to calculate these rates. Also, ask for the source of the data used to determine the size of the hail stones and the speed of the wind and gusts that drove the hail stones into your roof.
Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart