A Hail of a Sunday Storm

image1Many Houston residents spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon enjoying some nice, cool weather, until the big black clouds started to roll in and drop ping pong ball sized hail over thousands of homes.  Texas is known for stormy spring weather and the occasional hurricane that blows through in the summer, which makes for some pricey insurance premiums for homeowners in Texas (and other “at risk” US states) obtaining home insurance.  I spoke with State Farm Agent, Tim O’Neill, today to get some tips on what to do when something like this happens.  First of all I asked the most obvious question that most homeowners were asking themselves during  one of the most memorable hail storms that has hit Houston in a long time, and that is should everyone get their roof inspected ASAP?  He said that it is a good idea to get your roof checked out for anyone that experienced hail.   It does not go against you as a consumer to file a weather related claim, and therefore better safe than sorry.  You buy insurance for moments such as these, and it is always in the best interest of your home to call your insurance agent to check it out.  He had a very helpful hint to try and schedule the roofer and insurance adjuster to meet at the same time.  That way you don’t have multiple people showing up at different times, and stomping on the roof more than it needs to be.  It eliminates the “he said/she said”, and can be an easier experience to go about it that way.

I also asked Tim O’Neill about some things that homeowners should ask their agent before they buy a policy, or questions to ask during renewal regarding hail.  He said it is important to ask whether damage to your roof by hail would be a replacement cost value (insurer pays all costs to make your roof whole again after deductible) or actual cost value (With ACV, your insurer pays to repair or replace your roof, less your deductible and depreciation for the age and type of roof).  So with an ACV if you had an older roof when you purchased the policy…. your coverage would match that and would take into consideration the depreciation of that roof.   Most insurance policies include the replacement cost value, but it is an important thing to check before purchasing a policy.   Another thing that sometimes misleads people is the 2% Wind & Hail/storm deductible.  In more recent times hurricanes/tornadoes/stronger storms have cost billions in damage to homes.  In an effort to keep insurance premiums lower, a percentage based deductible has become the new norm.  What throws people off is when they think that the 2% or 3% deductible is according to how much the repair will be, but the percent is actually based on the amount the policy covers.  So, for instance if you have a 300,000 dollar home, then your deductible would be 6,000 dollars for the replacement of your roof before your coinsurance kicks in.  Sometimes that can be a shocker, but if you are an informed consumer you can be prepared for that.

One last tip is if you must replace your roof, then discounts on premiums could be available to you if you use roofing material such as clay, concrete, or hail resistant shingles.  It does cost more, but can be worth the investment.

So, call your Homeowners insurance today to check on those roofs.  Also, be sure to read your policy carefully when purchasing and before renewals to check for changes.

If you need any information on obtaining a new homeowners insurance policy or any further questions, you can contact Tim O’Neill with State Farm at (281) 358-4444 or by visiting his website.