Winter’s Impact on Roof Insurance Claims
“At least it’s snowing.” This was in an email message I received from the manager of my client’s hotel in Kentucky. Hard to believe that given this winter’s bitter weather, ice and snow that a property management team would be glad it is snowing again!
The back story on this is that all the buildup in ice and snow caused major damage to the roof at this destination resort. When the weather warmed up, things started to melt, then it started to rain and water poured into the interior causing damage to the resort from the damaged roof. Another cold front then turned the rain back into snow and this client is now grateful for the snow as the water intrusion has temporarily stopped.
This reprieve will be short-lived as warm weather conditions will create more snow and ice melt. Unfortunately, this client’s physical location is right in the path of a major rain event so the misery will be compounded.
This same scenario will be played out all over, especially in the hard hit northeastern part of the country. Once the ice and snow starts to melt, damages will be compounded. If the warm weather brings rain, it will be a double-down dose of misery for homeowners and commercial properties.
Roofers will be in high demand, but be careful when signing a contract for repairs or replacement. Read the contract and know exactly what type of material and workmanship you are being promised. Never give an upfront deposit. If a deposit is demanded, set up an escrow account with your mortgage company, trusted banker, or even a law firm. I cannot begin to tell you how many scams we have seen over the years with roofers. Not all roofing companies are bad and hopefully you have established a relationship with a trusted member of your community. If not, turn to folks you trust for a recommendation. Check references, not the one or two they give you but ones you or your colleagues and neighbors know can be relied on to tell you the truth.
Remember, building permits will have to be pulled. So it is critical that once the roof repair is complete that you withhold enough funds to cover any contingency that building officials may require to sign off on the repairs or replacement.
If your insurance company wants to patch or make a minimal repair, ask them who the roofer was that they had do the inspection will guarantee the repairs. We have found over the years that roofers, when pressed to do the work an insurance adjuster offers, will not guarantee the work. If that is the case, then the insurance adjuster and/or their preferred vendor needs to issue a written guarantee.
Finally, if your roof is still under warranty, you should get the warranty out and read its terms. You may find that the warranty is now void due to the conditions that caused the damage. If that is the case, the loss of the warranty may be covered under your insurance policy, allowing you to make a claim for the value of the balance of the warranty.
My guess is that we have not seen the last of the cold, snowy and icy winter of 2015. The impact to real property is just starting to manifest itself.