Hail damage insurance claims in Oklahoma are the most common claim type for homeowners. That’s why cheap home insurance in Oklahoma is a bad idea. (Que the eye-roll for stating the obvious.)
According to an article in the Tulsa World, Between 2007 and 2017, Oklahoma had 186 natural disasters. That’s 2nd in the nation only to California. The majority of the Oklahoma disasters are weather-related – primarily hail storms. So, quality home insurance coverage should be the rule, not the exception.
The primary focus of consumers when they are buying insurance is the cost. Maybe that’s true of any purchase. But, as an invisible product, it can be difficult to know the difference between a “good” insurance policy and a “bad” one. Buying an invisible promise to pay for something that may, or may not happen, is difficult for most people to place a great deal of value in.
Until they have a claim.
Those who have been through an insurance claim will have some experience of knowing if the “invisible promise to pay” really measured up to your expectations.
But if you haven’t been through a hail damage insurance claim on your home, what does the claim process look like? I’m glad you asked.
Anatomy of a hail damage insurance claim in Oklahoma.
Insurance claims are a hassle. Let’s get that straight first. No one looks forward to filing an insurance claim. But, what can complicate a claim even more is not understanding the process. The information here is specifically addressing a home insurance claim for hail damage in Oklahoma.
Here’s my disclaimer: Not every home insurance policy is the same. Just because you are paying for home insurance doesn’t mean you have the coverage you think you should have. Home insurance doesn’t cover “everything.” If you want to know what coverage you actually have, you will need to have a conversation with your insurance agent before the claim happens.
Your insurance isn’t something you think about very often. There are usually two events that bring it up in your mind.
- When you make an insurance payment – Because it always seems too high.
- When something damages your home – Like a hailstorm in Oklahoma.
An impending hailstorm rarely catches people in Oklahoma off-guard. The weather guys on every television channel take over and provide viewers with a reality TV show of storm chasers and vibrant radar graphics, detailing the frontline storm experience. It’s great drama.
You watch this drama with your blood pressure elevating as the storm approaches. The rain, wind, and hail begin to fall, and you hunker down while straining to see what’s going on outside your window. If you’re really worried, you’ll go into your storm cellar where you have to rely on listening and keeping your imagination from running wild.
And then… the storm is passed. Everything seems normal. You get that euphoria of survival. (That may seem a little dramatic, but if you’ve never been through a serious hail storm, don’t cast stones.) Then, you go about the rest of your day.
That’s a typical hail storm experience. Often you can’t see any obvious damage to your house.
Step 1: Do you have any damage from the storm?
A hailstorm doesn’t always cause obvious damage unless you know what you’re looking for. So, you should have your roof inspected by a qualified roofing contractor.
IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t file a claim just to see if you have hail damage! Why? Because, if you don’t have damage, or if the amount of damage doesn’t exceed your deductible, you still have a claim on your record. I know, that sucks and seems unfair. But that’s the way it is. No amount of complaining will change it.
I’m going with the scenario where you have clear and obvious storm damage as confirmed by a roofing contractor.
Step 2: You file a claim with your insurance company. Now what?
It’s going to go something like this.
The insurance adjuster will schedule a day and time to inspect your property. I would suggest you have your roofing contractor be there too. Not because the adjuster will miss something. Rather, this allows the roofer and adjuster to be on the same page regarding the extent of damage, right from the start.
The adjuster will inspect more than just the roof. Wind and hail can damage your guttering, window frames, garage door, and fence, just to name a few things.
The roof is the big-ticket item though.
When the insurance adjuster has completed the inspection of your property, you’ll get a report with everything that was damaged in the storm.
You’re reading through it and find it confirms damage to your roof, guttering, paint for the damaged siding, maybe even things like “combing the fins” of your beat-up air conditioner, for example.
Step 3: A math equation you need to be able to navigate.
The claim packet can be a little intimidating. It will itemize everything – stating the cost to repair or replace everything that is covered by your policy.
It will also subtract the depreciation of the items being repaired. (We’ll cover this later.)
At the end of the claim packet, you find what you’re really looking for; the TOTAL COST for all the damage.
It’s going to look something like this…keep in mind, that your claim adjuster will explain all the details to you. But it can be confusing because you’re not a claims expert, right?
Replacement Cost Value $20,000.00
Less Depreciation – $ 5,000.00
Actual Cash Value $15,000.00
Less Your Deductible – $ 5,000.00
Net Claim (your first claim payment) $ 10,000.00
Assuming you have replacement-cost coverage, the first claim payment from the insurance company will be in the amount of the replacement cost value for all the work <MINUS> the depreciation and the deductible.
Total Recoverable Depreciation (your second claim payment) + $ 5,000.00
Net Paid Claim if all work is completed $15,000.00
- Replacement cost value: The retail cost of the material and labor involved in making all the repairs.
- Depreciation: The value that the damaged item is decreased, based on its age compared to its life expectancy.
(Example: The shingles cost $10,000 to replace. The shingles are 10 years old and have a life expectancy of 30 years. The depreciation is 30% or $3,000)
- Actual cash value: The difference between the replacement cost value and depreciation.
- Deductible: The amount the homeowner (you) is expected to pay toward the total cost of the claim.
- Recoverable depreciation: The amount of the final payment the homeowner will receive from the insurance company once all the repairs are made.
Step 4: Things that make you go,
-Why is the mortgage company name on my claims check?
If you have a mortgage on your home, you will find the mortgage company is named on the claim check along with you. Why? This is to prevent homeowners (not you, of course) from just pocketing the money and not making the repairs. You will need to contact your mortgage company about the claim. They will have a process for you to follow to deposit the check to pay for the repairs later.
-Do I have to pay my deductible before the insurance company will pay for anything else?
No. That’s how health insurance works. You don’t have to “meet your deductible” on a home insurance claim. Your deductible will be subtracted from the amount of the total cost to repair the covered damages.
-Can I use anyone I want to make the repairs?
Yes. The insurance company only provides the money. They don’t do the repairs. Choosing a contractor is a very important part of the claim process though. Be wary of a deal from a contractor that sounds too good to be true. Promises of replacing your roof without having to pay for any of your deductible usually come with a price.
IMPORTANT TIP: The contractor should not make you pay upfront so they can buy material. This is an insurance claim. They don’t have to worry about where the money is coming from.
-Will filing this claim make my insurance rates go up?
Yes. But it’s not that simple. Weather events (like hail storms) damage a lot of houses, not just yours. Your house is all that matters to you, but your house won’t be the only claim your insurance company will be paying for.
This is different than filing a claim for a water pipe leak, theft, or even a fire. These losses usually only damage one house. The “individual” claims can actually have a greater impact on your insurance cost.
Due to the magnitude of the loss to the insurance company from these weather events, the need to charge more for insurance to recover the losses is very likely.
Am I suggesting you not file a claim for damage to your roof because of this? Absolutely not. The likelihood of increasing insurance rates is not a good enough reason to not file a claim. If you have damage that justifies filing a claim, you should file it and let your insurance company work for you.
-Do I have to make the repairs right away?
Not necessarily. Most insurance companies will give you up to one year to make the repairs and recover the depreciation which was withheld initially.
-Why wait? There can be several reasons to delay making the repairs.
- You may not be able to afford to pay the deductible and need to save up.
- Maybe the contractor you want to perform the work with is swamped and can’t get to your house for a couple of months.
- Maybe it’s the middle of storm season and you don’t want to take the chance of having to file a second claim on a brand new roof.
-What if my contractor finds additional damage or something the adjuster missed?
Good news! Your claim can be modified to include this new information. The contractor will be required to produce pictures and write an estimate for the additional damage so the adjuster can consider it.
Step 5: The work is all done. My house is back to normal.
The contractor will give you a final invoice for you to submit to your insurance adjuster (and your mortgage company) to show the work is complete so you can get all of the remaining insurance money to pay the bill.
If there is any “recoverable depreciation” money, that amount will be sent to you at this point. That payment along with the original insurance payment, and your deductible, should be used to pay the contractor in full.
Post-claim reflection: Did you have the coverage you thought you had?
Home insurance policy coverage can vary greatly between companies and even from one policy to another with the same company. There are several types of storm damage that may have limited to no coverage, depending on the policy you are paying for.
- Exclusions for cosmetic damage to aluminum guttering and other metal roof materials. Some policies exclude cosmetic damage to metal roof components. This means unless these things have been functionally compromised, the insurance company will not pay to replace them. Cosmetic damage can be ugly but does not need to be replaced.
- If you have vinyl siding there can be limited coverage to make sure the new siding matches the siding that was there before.
- The biggest concern when it comes to coverage for storm damage to your house is the roof itself. Some insurance companies will not provide replacement coverage for the roof when it is over 10 years old. This can be a painful and aggravating piece of information to receive when you think you have “replacement” coverage.
In general, most hail damage insurance claims in Oklahoma follow a similar pattern. But every claim is still unique. Having a review with your insurance agent on a regular basis can help you stay in “the know” of how to handle your next claim.
It’s statistically only a matter of time before you need to file a claim on your home insurance. Your home insurance protects your most valuable asset. You don’t have to HOPE your insurance will work like you think it will. Let us visit with you about your insurance needs and we can help you build a plan that you can have confidence in. Our goal is to help our clients build the most accurate and efficient insurance plan.
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