Packed with extraordinary weather events, 2017 was a rough year, especially for homeowners in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, where three major hurricanes caused extensive damage to homes and properties. While a lot of the damage was done by flood waters, many homeowners are facing roof repairs as well.. Increasingly severe hurricanes, tornadoes, rain and hail storms like we’ve seen in the last few years can amount to a lot of roof damage, putting a strain on homeowners and service providers, from insurance carriers to roofing contractors, and leaving panicked homeowners wondering what to do.
Homeowners facing mainly roof repairs can take some comfort knowing things could have been worse. Many people lost their entire home in devastating flooding that accompanied the storms. But moderate to severe roof damage alone can keep you out of your home and be very costly, even more so if handled incorrectly. If you’re a property owner dealing with roof damage in the aftermath of a hurricane, severe tropical storm or similar event, it’s important to know what to do and how to prioritize to protect your property from further harm.
Handle Immediate Roof Concerns
Returning to your home after a hurricane can be worrisome until you can get a good look and see the extent of the damage. Even if your roof looks good, if you can get up close, take a full walk around the house. Real damage will be obvious, but if there is even debris on the roof, you should plan to have a roofer do a full inspection in case there is hidden or minor damage that can lead to big problems later if not dealt with right away. Whatever the damage, be prepared to take control of the situation quickly to begin the process of recovery and repair. If your roof has suffered severe damage, but the home itself is relatively intact, you’ll want to find a professional roofer to stabilize the situation and schedule repairs.
Call your regular roofer first to see if they can prioritize you. They can do a quick inspection and help you come up with a plan. If you find you can’t get a roofer out right away, use a local tree service, construction or handyman service for handling the most urgent issues, like tree removal or adding a tarp. Be sure to check them out before hiring them. Removing these biggest hazards might tide you over while you wait for a roof repair appointment.
Meanwhile, take photos of your roof for insurance purposes, then tarp the damaged areas until repairs can begin. Firmly secure tarps up and over the ridges of your roof to prevent more water from entering your home. You can pay a roofing company to tarp your house and usually recoup the expense from your insurance company. Sometimes you can apply for tarp installation assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA under its Operation Blue Roof program, which is free of charge to qualifying homeowners.
Moving quickly after a storm may help you to book a local roofer. However, if it turns out there’s a long waiting list with local roofing contractors, which happens quickly after storms, don’t be tempted to hire out-of-town “storm chasers” who might perform shoddy work or take your money and never complete the repairs. If your roof isn’t leaking or has only minimal damage, schedule your roofer farther out or wait a few weeks to book one. This allows demand, and prices, to go down and scammers to leave the area.
Tips on Filing Post-Hurricane Insurance Claims
It’s your responsibility to immediately file an insurance claim for roof damage. Dealing with your insurance company can be a real headache. Not only are their staff overwhelmed with work, the companies are already taking huge losses following a hurricane and probably trying to pay out as little as possible on claims. Especially if recovery from the storm is going to be a large project with multiple policies affected in your area, you may need help to get the attention and solution you need. In this situation, you can hire a public insurance adjuster to help you negotiate your claim. Remember, adjusters from your insurance company represent the company’s interests, not yours. A public adjuster is there to represent you and help level the playing field. They know what kind of documentation is required, understand what your insurance policy covers, and argues for a fair settlement that’s typically higher than what you’d receive on your own.
If you don’t have enough insurance, the right kind of insurance, or you have no insurance at all on your property, FEMA may be the best place to look for help.
Choosing a Hurricane Repair Roofing Contractor
When you’re ready to start repairs, it’s important to make sure you will have a sound roof that’s properly installed by trained and experienced professional roofers. This is especially important if you live in a storm-prone area, as a poorly installed roof is more easily damaged by high winds that sweep under incorrectly installed or loose tiles, or by leaks that form in improperly sloped or poorly drained areas where water then pools and damages the roof, sometimes through many layers, resulting in water stains, mold, termites and other problems.
Shopping local for a professional roofer is essential, especially during the chaos of a post-storm recovery since many would-be roofers start to show up from out of town. A good place to start is a roofer you know and trust, or ask friends, neighbors or local businesses you trust. As you do your own search, review the roofer’s website. Check for history, licensing information and things like their gallery of work, testimonials, online reviews or news articles. Even if you’re in a hurry, always get a written quote and have the roofer explain the work to you in detail. Before signing any contract, read it carefully and ask important questions like: Are you licensed, bonded and insured? Can you give me references? How long have you been in business? What is your business’ physical address?
Never hire someone who knocks on your door offering to fix your roof. This is probably a scam artist or inexperienced roofer, since legitimate roofing contractors are going to be way too busy to solicit new business in this manner. You can also call FEMA at 800-621-3362 for a list of legitimate, pre-screened roofing contractors in your area.
Avoiding Scam Artists after the Storm
It’s unfortunate, but major disasters bring out con artists preying on vulnerable victims. Hurricanes are no different. Scammers flood areas with widespread damage peddling construction and insurance scams. Unqualified people or outright scam artists may pose as construction contractors, public insurance adjusters, insurance agents, emergency management or disaster relief personnel and more.
Protect yourself by always asking for credentials/photo identification, even if they’re wearing a shirt with a company or government logo. Roofing contractors and public insurance adjusters should be able to supply their license number, which is verifiable through state offices. Never give anyone cash upfront for any type of construction or insurance services or buy insurance after a disaster from someone claiming it covers pre-existing damages. If you suspect fraudulent activity report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721.
About Prestige Roofing in Las Vegas
While there aren’t hurricanes in Las Vegas, the area is sometimes pounded by high desert winds, monsoon rains and even lightning strikes that can cause roof damage. Prestige Roofing can help keep your roof in good shape to better handle bad weather, and we can repair your roof in case of damage from wind and storms. We also build quality new roofs with material like tile, copper, CeDUR, shingle, flat or other roofing materials for your roof replacement or new roof project. Contact us for a free in-home or office estimate for any of your home or business roofing needs.