(WSPA) – When hail strikes, should you call your insurance company right away?  How can you make sure the adjustor is fair? Could a denied claim work against you?

Those are some of the many questions 7NEWS viewers sent in after several rounds of massive hailstorms in the Upstate this spring.

In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, we looked to answer those questions, plus how to find a roofer you can trust, so people can get the most from their insurance and protect their homes.

Collect evidence, if possible

Priscilla Fair said moving to the Upstate from out west was an introduction to the power of a true hailstorm.  

“It was like baseballs. It was incredible,” she said as we watched a video she took in the summer of 2022.

She admits it was the novelty, not the thought of damage that compelled her to press record.

However, she was relieved she had the evidence when six months later, a contractor noticed there was a problem.  

“They saw, hey you’ve got some damage on your roof and we’re really surprised cause the roof looked really good,” Fair said.  

It can be hard for homeowners to actually see any damage, but one clue is when a bunch of granules wind up at the bottom of the gutter. 

How long to wait after a hail storm

In order for those granules to start sliding off, the roof has to go through a few cycles of hot and cold plus heavy rain, so it’s best to wait to get the roof checked out until at least 2-3 weeks after a hailstorm.

Still, Phillip Flaugher, with Affordable Roofing in Pickens, said don’t wait too long either.

“There are some insurance companies that will have a block of time, six months, if you don’t report an incident in 6 months then it will not be covered,” Flaugher warned.

So, check your policy.

Review policy

While you’re at it, review the deductible in your policy. 

Some have separate higher amounts specifically for wind and hail damage.

In fact, Jake McCoun, with Advisors Insurance Agency in Greenville, warns some policies will tack on a deductible that is 1% of the value of the home, so if your home is $600,000 you will have to pay $6,000 out of pocket.  

His company is an independent firm and works with many different insurance companies so McCoun said he has an understanding of how policies can vary.

Key steps before you file a claim

He advises homeowners to hold off on filing a claim or even calling their insurance company, which sometimes can trigger a claim, until they’ve done the following:

  • Determine the date of the hailstorm. If you have videos and photos from your property that makes your case even stronger.
  • Find a reputable roofer to assess the damage with help from:
    • your insurance agent
    • online reviews
    • recommendations from homeowners
  • Confirm with the roofer after an inspection that there is enough damage to your roof to merit an insurance claim.
    • Note: Filing a claim, only to have it denied can still affect your premium because even “zero payment claims” are considered claims and will be seen when you go to renew or try to get a new policy with another company.
  • Double-check the language of your policy. Again, for the deductible amount, reporting timeline and anything else that can affect the claim.

Only if you decide filing a claim makes sense, McCoun said, should you proceed with calling an adjuster.

“Normally I would tell people, have the roofer when your adjuster is there. So that they’re looking at the same thing at the same time.  If a roofer is saying I think you have this damage and the adjustor comes out at a different time, they are not looking at the same thing at the same time,” according to McCoun. 

Getting results

Fair said having her roofer and adjustor work together made the process a lot smoother than some of her neighbors.  

“People in this neighborhood even said they had trouble with their insurance company, and their insurance company wouldn’t cover it,” Fair, who lives in Greenville, said.  

If you do get denied, you can ask for a new adjustor, again be sure to have the roofer present.

Key steps before any roof repair

Before any work is done, make sure that you thoroughly read the contract with the contractor and that it names every repair you need plus the shingle type and other supplies being used to replace your roof.

Also, do one more review on the contractor and request documents showing the following:

  • the contractor is bonded
  • has workman’s comp  
  • has general liability insurance that is not expired, check the date on the certificate

Beware of shoddy contractors

Flaugher added to watch out for “storm chasers” who create an online presence to make it look like they’re local.  

He told 7NEWS about what happened to his company a decade ago when imposters tried to scam homeowners.

“They claimed to be us, they used our BBB rating, they had a logo, but they changed the location of the address to a vacant lot in Greer. So, we ended up getting the sheriff involved and tried to get the money back, but could never find the people,” he said.

Hail damage to cars

Finally, let’s not forget your vehicle.

Compressive insurance is the only type that will cover body damage and windshield replacement.  

“Luckily, both of our cars were parked in the garage,” Fair said.  

If you’re not so lucky, don’t rush to file.

Your claim could impact your premium, and after your deductible, that insurance check may not make enough of a dent to merit getting those hail dents repaired.