According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, insurance claims from hailstorm damage increased 84% in 2012 from 2010. From January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012 the top five states with the highest hail damage claims include: Texas (320,823), Missouri (138,857), Kansas (126,490), Colorado (118,118), and Oklahoma (114,168).
Many speculate as to why there has been such a rise in hailstorms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) claims that the rise in storms is due to evident climate changes. A warmer climate can cause more instability, which in turn causes more storms. Could global warming be to blame? A study done by European scientists found that climate change will cause a predicted increase of up to 50% of crop damage due to hailstorms by the year 2050.
While there is nothing we can do to prevent Mother Nature from running its course, we can be prepared in the even that she damages your property:
- Check your property for damage only if it is safe to do so. Take as many pictures as you can of the damage from the outside and inside of your property.
- Call your insurance company and file a claim. Take good notes and document the date and your conversations with the insurance agent. Some insurance agents may try to tell you that there is not enough damage to meet the deductible just from speaking with you over the phone. Take notes of what they have said and continue to file a claim.
- Do what you need to do to temporarily mitigate damages (board up broken windows, patch or tarp your roof to prevent further water damage). Do not completely fix your property until the settlement of your claim. Keep all receipts.
- Do get a second opinion. Insurance adjusters are in the business of collecting premiums, not paying them. They may claim that the damage doesn’t meet your deductible; the damage is just because the house is old or it was already there, or they might give you a low-ball offer and even flat out deny your claim. The insurance adjuster might not even do a full inspection of your property leaving out crucial damage such as water leaking into your attic and moving down into your dry wall. A public adjuster is a great choice to use when getting a second opinion since they work for the policyholder and will do a thorough inspection of your property.
- Make sure you hire a licensed public adjuster. A licensed public adjuster must disclose their fees in a contract with you. Not only will the public adjuster inspect your roof, but they should also inspect the entire parameter of the property including the inside of your home. Remember, the public adjuster works for you, not the insurance company. The public adjuster will help you with your claim and may recommend an attorney.
- If the insurance company denies or low-balls your claim, call a reputable attorney who is specialized in this type of insurance litigation. The right attorney will take the claim out of your hands and aggressively pursue the insurance companies to get you the money you deserve. An attorney will work with your public adjuster, or hire someone to get a second opinion for you.
- An expert attorney in insurance litigation should work on contingency fee only, meaning if they do not recover anything for you, you won’t owe them a dime. When an attorney gets involved in an insurance claim the insurance company will know you mean business and will want to get the claim settled in order to avoid themselves a costly litigation.
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