Roof Damage Claims

If the roof that covers your property is damaged during a weather event such as a hurricane or tropical storm or is damaged due to some other event, insurance companies must efficiently process your claim to mitigate further losses that may result from having a damaged roof. There are many kinds of roof damage insurance claims, such as issues with decking and rafters, nail down issues, and problems with underlayment. If your property's roof has ever been destroyed by wind or hail, you might be already aware that insurance companies do not make the insurance claims process easy for policyholders. Englander Peebles handles different kinds of property damage claims, including roof damage claims, throughout the state of Florida.

Englander Peebles has an "AV Preeminent" rating through Martindale Hubbell's prestigious peer review program. When you hire Englander Peebles to help you with your roof damage claim, our attorneys will handle your case and carefully guide you through the complex process of obtaining the benefits you are entitled to under your insurance policy. Insurance companies use their cadre of attorneys, extensive financial resources, a team of claims adjusters, and a multitude Once you are our client, you can neutralize an insurance company's corporate advantages because our firm will work tirelessly to prove that the full amount of your claim is covered under the terms of your insurance policy and to ensure the insurance company properly values your loss.

Insurance companies often hire particular roofers, construction, or engineering companies with whom the company does a lot of business with. It is not surprising at all that these same so-called neutral third-party contractors frequently conclude that claims are not covered because the cause of the loss was related to faulty installation, a manufacturing defect, or negligent maintenance. Therefore, is crucial that the law firm representing your claim retain the services of an experienced roofer, contractor, architect, or engineer to rebut the insurance company's findings.

Claims involving roof damage can include significant costs that regularly amount to thousands of dollars because of mold issues arising from water penetration through the roof or walls. An insured individual's delay in filing a claim to repair these kinds of damage can result in mounting losses and wholly or partially denied claims. Insurance companies often entice homeowners with low-ball settlement offers, even when the damage claimed necessitates replacing the entire roof, and no other form of remediation will suffice. If your insurance provider engages in unreasonable, bad faith conduct, we are prepared to file a lawsuit to allege that the company breached the insurance contract, and even a separate suit for bad faith if your insurance company engages in unethical and unfair tactics.

Common Types of Roof Damage

When it comes to roof damage, Floridians are prone to the following kinds of damage as a result of the typical weather conditions that homeowners face in the state.

  • Wind Damage

With the potential for an active hurricane season each year, Floridians should always consider how to prevent wind damage to their homes, particularly their roofs. The Beaufort Wind Scale devised by the University of North Carolina provides the following general guidelines for measuring the damage that increasing wind speeds may cause.

  • 39 MPH - Considered gale force winds; small branches and twigs are blown off trees;
  • 47 MPH - Strong gale force winds; this scale can cause minor structural damage to property, such as blowing off shingles from roofs;
  • 55 MPH - Storm force winds; this level can cause some structural damage to properties, and is strong enough to uproot trees;
  • 64 MPH - Violent storm force wind; this level can cause widespread damage to property;
  • 74 MPH or more - this is the typical force of a hurricane; extensive damage to property is possible.

As shown by the Beaufort scale above, even a minor storm can bring winds that cause significant damage to your home. A storm event does not need to produce rain or hail to damage roofs. High winds have the ability to create stress points on roofs that, in time, can weaken and cause a roof to become compromised. Although roofs are usually designed to resist normal wind speeds, they can be increasingly damaged over time by repeated exposure to high winds and the debris carried by such wind. Fixing initial roof damage as quickly as possible is critical to preventing subsequent water damage that Florida homes are also prone to. Additionally, defective roof systems can cause a significant increase in air conditioning costs for homes and other properties because of resulting poor insulation.

High winds do not uniformly affect entire roof systems. Certain areas like the corners and surrounding perimeter of the roof can be susceptible to greater damage due to higher wind pressures while the center of the roof system might experience lower stresses. The National Roofing Contractors Association indicates that most roof damage caused by the wind starts on the edge of the roof. High winds will also affect areas where the roofing material has loose adhesion. The wind can get under the material and push it up, which gives the wind more surface area to pick up next time and create a chain peeling result. This kind of wind damage to roofs often starts very small but grows over time through repeated exposure to high wind speeds. Once the wind exposes a whole corner of insulation, rain can seep in and begin to cause leaks and other types of water damage. Homeowners can avoid this outcome by ensuring roofing materials are strong enough and are maintained in good condition to withstand exposure to high winds.

Significant weather events that bring high wind speeds also brings debris which can find its way onto a roof. Debris such as tree branches or shards of glass may even be more damaging to the roof than the wind itself. Experts recommend homeowners to inspect roofs after such weather events, and to pay particular attention to debris that may have been blown across the roofing system. Experts also recommend that homeowners check gutters and downspouts because debris can easily cause clogs and cause other significant damage down the road. Homeowners should keep trees trimmed and branches away from the roof. If a tree branch touches a roof, it may gouge roofing materials when high wind speeds occur. Additionally, falling branches from overhanging trees can puncture shingles and other roofing materials.

Homeowners should inspect their roofs for missing or damaged shingles after a serious weather event. If this kind of damage is localized and covers no more than thirty percent of the roof, repairs might be able to address the issue without the need to replace the entire roof. However, high wind events such as hurricanes may cause extensive damage that may require full roof replacement. Damage to the roof might not be limited to the roof itself, but include the chimney, roof flashing, ventilation pipes, fencing, and gutters. If you think that your roof is damaged, there are a few basic indicators to watch out for:

  • If your roof has composition shingles, loss of granulation, curling, missing, broken, or damaged singles may occur.
  • If you have wooden shingles or shakes, splitting, curling, mold, or decay may occur.
  • For flat roofs, wind damage may show up as cracks or tears, clearly-seen patches, blisters and/or wrinkles. Patched areas may also be visible from the attic.
  • For roof flashing, wind events may cause buckling around roof penetrations or tears.
  • Wind damage may damage roofing cement, causing crumbling and excess cement.
  • For a roof with fascia and soffits, wind damage may cause roof stains and decay.
  • Winds may cause clogged or damaged ridge vents can result in missing flashing and shingles around such vents.
  • Gutters may rust or decay due to wind damage. Winds can also cause leaky gutter seams, cause gutters to be shaky and lose adhesion to the structure, cause bending or sagging, or fill gutters with debris.
  • For homes with chimneys, winds can cause loose or missing flashing, cracked joints, missing flashing, or cause chimneys to lean. Also, chimney flashing is prone to tearing because a chimneys tend to settle independently from the rest of the house.
  • Hail

Hail damage may be more difficult to diagnose than damage from other events. Damage to roofs caused by hail may be hard to see and takes time to manifest. Although it may seem that the only kind of damage possible from hail is punctures in the roof material, puncturing is actually an extreme event. The more likely damage that hail will cause is compromising the integrity of the roof system in small ways that, down the road, lead to even more costly repairs.

With a built-up roof, asphalt shingles, or a modified-bitumen roof, a large enough piece of hail can cause long-term problems, even when very little damage is apparent on its face. Hail can cause a roof shingle to bend enough so the shingle's bottom side can break. This compromises a roof's integrity and causes weak spots that shorten the life of a roof system. Additionally, hail can cause punctures and hairline cracks in asphalt shingles that are difficult to see and may remain hidden for a period of time. However, these small cracks can allow small amounts of water in. However, in hot weather, this moisture steams back out of the roof and pops granules of the shingles.

For roofing systems that use single-ply roofing membranes, hailstorms can cause many little dents since these materials tend to be more flexible. The roofing membrane itself may be intact, which may cause an insurance company to deny a damage claim. However, these dents increase the potential for cracks to develop. Additionally, these dents destroy the bond in the membrane and the insulation and destroy the substrate of the layer. Extreme weather events following such hail storms may even cause the roof to blow off because of hail damage that occurred years earlier.

Roofs must have robust substrates to avoid damage from hail. If the roof's top layer is less flexible, the bottom layer has the potential to shatter in hail. Therefore, NRCA recommends using a cover board over the roof's thermal insulation. With a tougher cover board, there is less possibility of hail bending or depressing the top layer. After a hail event, homeowners should consult with trained inspectors. These inspectors, such as the inspectors hired by Englander Peebles, know what to look for and will lend credibility to homeowners' insurance claims that are later filed.

  • Lightning

Although lighting doesn't get the same level of attention as Florida's other extreme weather events, lightning damage was cited in over 10,000 insurance claims in Florida in the past year. Florida leads the nation for both insurance claims related to lightning damage and even injuries caused by lightning strikes. Property damage from lightning strikes in Florida is estimated to amount to over $74 million.

Experts recommend that homeowners reduce the risk of lightning damage by installing a lightning protection system, which essentially grounds the property and allows potentially damaging lightning to dissipate. Although these systems are not 100 percent reliable, they serve to lessen the risk of lightning damage to property by keeping electricity away from building materials that were not meant to withstand the full force of a lightning strike. Many experts also recommend that homeowners install lightning rods and use surge protectors to protect electronic devices.

  • Trees

Falling trees can cause catastrophic damage to the home and, sadly, Florida's constant exposure to extreme weather events makes falling trees more likely in the state. Hurricanes make trees more easily felled or uprooted. Homeowners in Florida have to take steps to prevent such damage by ensuring trees in their properties are properly pruned and that loose branches are promptly removed.

Additionally, structurally defective trees caused by disease, or dead trees, can also easily fall on a house. Florida is prone to lightning strikes, and if such a strike hits a tree, it can also cause the tree to fall eventually. Branches overhanging the roof can fall, causing damage ranging from minor punctures to major structural defects. Also, leaves that fall on a flat or low-slope roof may accumulate into blockage for drainage. It can also become acidic when it rots, which deteriorates a roof surface and cause staining. Tree leaves and small branches can clog gutters, therefore causing water to back up onto roof overhang. Finally, tree branches that grow directly over a roof surface may sway back and forth when the wind is present and scrape the surface of roof shingles.

Partial vs. Total Roof Damage and Coverage

The prevalence of severe weatherroutinely wreaks havoc on Florida residents and property owners routinely file claims for roof damage to houses and business property. Such damage includes cracked and dislodged tiles or shingles on the roof or water stains across the ceiling. Additionally, local building agencies may inform property owners that entirely new roofs are required event though only a portion seems to have suffered damage. Sadly, these claims are often underpaid or outright denied by insurance companies.

Claimants often encounter the common problem that occurs when an insurance company acknowledges that a portion of a property's roof suffered damage that is covered but declares that the rest of the roof was not damaged. The company may also state that the roof was damaged by a cause that is excluded from coverage by the policy, such as lack of maintenance or wear and tear. This problem is worsened when the insured individual applies for a building permit to repair the damage, only to be informed by the local building agency that it will not issue a permit because the entire roof needs to be replaced for compliance with local building codes.

Homeowners may use the Florida Building Code in conjunction with often-overlooked provisions in their homeowner's insurance policies. Section 611 of the Florida Building Code describes situations under which roofs on existing properties must comply with the current requirements of the code. Specifically, the code provides that owners cannot repair greater than 25 percent of the total roof area or section of roofing on an existing property building unless the entire roofing system is compliant with the building code's requirements. This means that if more than 25 percent of the roof surface requires repairs, then the whole roof must be brought into compliance with the building code. Therefore, in most cases, homeowners will need to replace their entire roof. This is problematic, especially if an insurance company only approves partial payout for roof repairs.

The solution may lie in the terms of the insurance policy. Many policies contain provisions normally called law and ordinance or building code upgrade coverage provisions. Some of these provisions may provide that the insured individual may use up to 25 percent of the liability limits that applies to the covered property for the increased costs that the insured incurs because of the enforcement of laws that regulate the construction, remodeling, renovation, repair, or demolition of that portion of a covered structure damaged by a covered event or peril. The provision may also include the replacement, remodeling, or removal of the portion of the part of a building that is covered by the policy that is undamaged or any other structure that is necessary to complete the repair, replacement, or remodeling of that part of the covered structure damaged by a peril or event that is covered by the policy.

An insurance policy's law or ordinance coverage may be used by insured persons to bridge the difference between what the insurance company paid out related to damages that are covered by the event and the cost of achieving compliance with the applicable building code. However, this type of coverage is very different from traditional homeowners' insurance policy coverage. Often, traditional coverage means that the insurance company pays the individual up front and then makes necessary repairs with the payout. With ordinance or law coverage, it is usually referred to as incurred expense coverage, which means that the coverage doesn't take effect, and the benefits are not available, until the insured individual incurs additional costs for building code compliance.

The burden of proving that the added costs have been incurred due to efforts to comply with the building code may be accomplished in several ways. The easiest way is to provide the insurance company with a copy of an executed contract for total roof replacement. Additionally, the claimant should provide a copy of the application for a building permit, and a copy of the form or letter from the local building agency rejecting the request for roof repair permit and stating the requirement for full compliance of the entire roof with the current building code.

The building code of Florida, used in conjunction with Ordinance or law coverage often found under most homeowner's insurance policies, can result in a greater recovery for claimants, especially when there is only partial roof damage.

Contact Englander Peebles Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has suffered roof damage, it is important that you consult with a Fort Lauderdale Roof Damage Claim Attorney right away. The attorneys at Englander Peebles will review your homeowner's insurance policy and assist in navigating the insurance claim process and will fight for your right to compensation so that you can repair or replace your roof. Don't fight your insurance company alone. Contact Englander Peebles today at (954) 500-4878 or through our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.