Insurance Claims for Hail Damage

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 homeowner 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 hailstone and the high winds and gusts that can accelerate the speed of the hailstone.

3.  The actual size of each hailstone that struck the roof … and the speed of the wind and gusts that drove the hailstone 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 hailstones and the speed of the wind and gusts that drove the hailstones into your roof.

For more information about how some insurance companies use engineer reports to routinely deny valid claims, click on the following link and read:  https://missouripublicadjuster.org/2017/03/09/fraudulent-engineer-reports-and-your-homeowners-insurance-claim/

 

 

Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart

Tree Dangers to the Home

Tree too close to house
Although trees are generally a desirable feature of home landscaping, they can pose a threat to buildings in a number of different ways. Home owners may want to educate themselves about tree dangers so that they can be aware of potentially dangerous situations.  Questions regarding home insurance claims can be answered by contacting me for a free consultation.
Tree Roots and Foundations
Contrary to popular belief tree roots do not normally pierce through a building’s foundation. They can, however, damage a foundation in the following ways:
  • Roots can sometimes penetrate a building’s foundation through pre-existing cracks.
  • Large root systems that extend beneath a house can cause foundation uplift.
  • Roots can leech water from the soil beneath foundations, causing the structures to settle and sink unevenly.

Other Dangers:

  • Trees that are too close to buildings may be fire hazards. Soffit vents provide easy access for flames to enter a house.
  • Leaves and broken branches can clog gutters, potentially causing ice dams or water penetration into the building.
  • Old, damaged or otherwise weak trees may fall and endanger lives and property. Large, weak branches, too, are a hazard, especially if weighed down by ice.
  • Tree roots can potentially penetrate underground drainage pipes, especially when they leak. Water that leaks from a drainage or sanitary pipe can encourage root growth in the direction of the leak, where the roots may eventually enter the pipe and obstruct its flow.
  • Trees may be used by insects and rodents to gain access to the building.
  • Falling trees and branches can topple power lines and communication lines.
Structural Defects in TreesDangerous Crack in tree .
Trees with structural defects likely to cause failure to all or part of a tree can damage nearby buildings. The following are indications that a tree has a structural defect:
  • dead twigs, dead branches, or small, off-color leaves;
  • species-specific defects. Some species of maple, ash and pear often form weak branch unions, while some other fast-growing species of maple, aspen, ailanthus and willow are weak-wooded and prone to breakage at a relatively young age;
  • cankers, which are localized areas on branches or stems of a tree where the bark is sunken or missing. Cankers are caused by wounding or disease. The presence of a canker increases the chance that the stem will break near the canker. A tree with a canker that encompasses more than half of the tree’s circumference may be hazardous even if the exposed wood appears healthy;
  • hollowed trunks;
  • Advanced decay (wood that is soft, punky or crumbly, or a cavity where the wood is missing) can create a serious hazard. Evidence of fungal activity, such as mushrooms, conks and brackets growing on root flares, stems or branches are indications of advanced decay. A tree usually decays from the inside out, eventually forming a cavity, but sound wood is also added to the outside of the tree as it grows. Trees with sound outer wood shells may be relatively safe, but this depends on the ratio of sound-to-decayed wood, and other defects that might be present;
  • cracks, which are deep splits through the bark, extending into the wood of the tree. Cracks are very dangerous because they indicate that the tree is presently failing;
  • V-shaped forks.  Elm, oak, maple, yellow poplar and willow are especially prone to breakage at weak forks;
  • The tree leans at more than 15 degrees from vertical. Generally, trees bent to this degree should be removed if they pose a danger. Trees that have grown in a leaning orientation are not as hazardous as trees that were originally straight but subsequently developed a lean due to wind or Canker in tree root damage. Large trees that have tipped in intense winds seldom recover. The general growth-form of the tree and any uplifted soil on the side of the tree opposite the lean provide clues as to when the lean developed.
Tips for Home Owners:
  • Binoculars are helpful for examining the higher portions of tall trees for damage.
  • When planting trees, they should be kept far from the house. It is impossible for the homeowner to reliably predict how far the roots will spread, and trees that are too close to a building may be a fire hazard.
  • Do not damage roots. In addition to providing nutrition for the tree, roots anchor the tree to the ground. Trees with damaged roots are more likely to lean and topple than trees with healthy roots. Vehicles are capable of damaging a tree’s root system.
  • Dead trees within the range of a house should be removed. If they are not removed, the small twigs will fall first, followed by the larger branches, and eventually the trunk. This process can take several years.
  • Inspect your trees periodically for hazards, especially in large, old trees. Every tree likely to have a problem should be inspected from bottom to top. Look for signs of decay and continue up the trunk toward the crown, noting anything that might indicate a potential hazard.
In summary, trees that are too close to buildings can potentially cause structural damage.
by Nick Gromicko and Rob London

Before You Renew Your Insurance Policy … Read This!

Two small teddy bears

Two small teddy bears (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people will carry insurance with the same company for years without ever having the need to file a claim … and then only at their greatest time of need, following a serious property loss, find that their insurer is NOT the “safety net” that they had expected.

Low rates, teddy bears, lizards with British accents, good hands and good neighbors … they all mean very little when disaster strikes your home and you experience improper claim denials and delays that add to your burden and interfere with your recovery.

Before renewing your next policy, check out (by clicking HERE) your insurance company with the Missouri Department of Insurance to see how they have measured up where it really matters … customer satisfaction in processing their claims. 

 

Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart

Superstorm Sandy and Property Damage Insurance

As is often the case following such damaging events as the recent storms in the Northeastern section of the United States from yesterday, hundreds of thousands of home and business owners will awaken and begin to discover the realities of their insurance contracts … those conditions and exclusions that are written into their insurance polices that, like landmines, often impede their steps toward restoring that part of their lives that has to do with their property damage and loss.

Believe it or not, thousands of home owners with their houses under water brought in by the sea or overflowing river banks will only — today — discover that flooding is not a covered peril under their insurance policies.  With all or most of their personal property missing or destroyed, providing proof of their losses will appear to be impossible.

Because the burden is on the insured to “prove” his loss and most are not totally aware of their rights or the process of proving their insurance claims, many will accept lower settlements or denials that will unnecessarily add to the burdens that they already are forced to endure.

Some “storm chasing” public adjusters from all over the country will soon be descending upon the area to help people with their insurance claims to help home and business owners contend with the wave of adjusters sent by the insurance companies to protect their financial interests … and while many of them will actually be helpful, the shock and the awe of the recent disaster still hangs over its victims like a dark cloud and not all of their choices during this period will be, upon later reflection, “good” choices.

Prudent home and business owners throughout the country can benefit from this lesson and take the opportunity — today — to meet with a public adjuster close to their home.  Get to know him and discuss your insurance contracts with him.  Let him show you what they do and do not cover, what your immediate steps should be following a loss and how to protect yourself from actions that could nullify or reduce the amount of your claim.

Public adjusters do not work for insurance companies and can help you through the process of proving your claim  … even before it happens … so that you can concentrate on more important things that you will certainly face during a personal property disaster.

It is also important to note that, if you try to handle your claim on your own and are unsatisfied with the results, a local public adjuster can review your claim and reopen it to address a wrongful denial or underpayment.

Take the time, today, to find a local public adjuster who will be there for you when you need him the most.

Your Denied or Underpaid Missouri Insurance Claim Can Be Reopened

By James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Insurance adjusters hired by insurance companies will often deny legitimate home or business owner claims for property loss … or underpay them.  The chances are great that you are, or know, someone that this has happened to.

Until they have experienced the process, most folks believe that when they suffer an insurable loss to their home or business, all they need to do is contact their insurance company and someone runs out right away with a check to cover all that they need.  They are shocked to learn that, in the middle of their crisis, they are called upon to focus their attention on “proving” their loss while navigating a mine field of conditions and exclusions that often (and mistakenly) result in disappointment.

Public Adjusters do not work for insurance companies.  Instead, they work for insured home and business owners who benefit from assistance in negotiating their claim.It is important to know that … when the dust has settled and you are ready to address the disappointing shortfall … a review of your claim by a licensed Public Adjuster can be your best choice.

I am a Public Adjuster and I offer free consultations to Missouri home and business owners who want to inquire about their past claims and the possibility of recovering money that is owed to them under their insurance policy.  Many other Public Adjusters in other states offer the same service.

Remember that, when it comes to your insurance company, the first offer is usually the lowest and that “No” does not mean “forever”.

For more information, visit www.publicadjustermissouri.com or call me at 314-803-2167.

It’s your money.

What Should Your Insurance Company Pay You for the Repair and Restoration of Your Home?

When your home has been partially or totally destroyed from a peril covered by your insurance contract or policy, you have the right to expect to receive financial support from the insurer toward restoring your home to the condition that it was prior to the loss.

The only fair amount that an insurance company should pay for loss to real property (and that an insured should expect to be paid) is the cost for repair and restoration work that the specialists who undertake the project agree to work for.  Sometimes, insurance contracts will allow for reasonable depreciation … but the figure from which the depreciation is made or settlement is awarded should be the actual cost of restoring the property and not an arbitrary estimated amount.

Sometimes, their adjusters who work on their behalf will encourage home owners to agree to settlements that will provide less than what they are entitled to and that can appear to be reasonable … but are not.

For instance, many insurance company adjusters will rely upon and use computer software or publications that claim to represent costs for various incidents, materials and tasks and that are periodically updated by telephone surveys.  The errant suggested costs from these computer programs are what the insurance company’s adjusters will often use to base their settlement offers.

These estimating applications are often incomplete,  inaccurate and unreliable and will likely be used to represent the company’s first offer of settlement.  Unsuspecting home owners will feel obligated to accept these lowball offers … particularly when they are in a hurry for cash.

Sometimes, the insurance company will hire retired or former contractors and will pay them to provide “estimates” for repairing or restoring the home.  Many of these folks have not been directly involved with the actual repair or restoration process for many years  and lack current knowledge of material costs and procedures.  They are also unlikely to be the professionals who are going to be performing the actual work.  Additionally, being paid by the insurance company for their bid and their future referrals provides some of these folks with an incentive to provide low and unrealistic “estimates”.

Sometimes the insurer will offer a lump sum “cash out” that will (with quick and fast money) provide the home owner with the enticement to accept a fast settlement that will provide less than the required amount to fully restore their home to the original condition.  The idea of lower payments for “do-it-yourself” repair work provides the insurer with a lower payment while leaving the home owner on his own to seek and use lower quality and cheaper materials, inexperienced labor and with no warranty on the final work.  This is never a good idea.

Remember, the only fair fair amount that an insurance company should pay (and that you should accept) is the price for repair and restoration work that the specialists who undertake the project agree to work for.

If you feel that you have been underpaid for a recent claim and you live in the State of Missouri, contact me.  I will be happy to review your claim and let you know if there are additional steps that can be taken to assist you in receiving all that you are entitled to from your insurance company as a result of your loss.

Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart

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