A Homeowner’s Complete Guide to Siding Replacement that’s Covered by Insurance
You’ve heard the tell-tale sound of hail hitting your home during a storm in the night, and hoped that the damage would be minimal—but you have that sinking feeling that your siding might not make it through intact. The next morning, your fears were confirmed—the hail did do damage to your siding, and you have to call your insurance company. Now what?
Bad storms can rattle your nerves enough. At Seamless Choice, we know it’s even worse when your home’s siding has sustained damage: You need to spend time and money getting it fixed, when you weren’t planning on it, and aren’t really sure what the process is. It doesn’t need to be complex or intimidating—though we understand why you might feel that way!
Seamless Choice prides itself on handling everything for our customers. We’re eager to be your partner in the process of dealing with your insurance company, choosing the perfect siding product, and installing it so that you can focus on enjoying your home again, confident that it’s safe and protecting you from the elements.
In 2017, Colorado ranked 10th in the list of top 10 states most affected by hail damage. According to “Hail: The Hidden Risk,” a report by Verisk, 22% of Colorado properties, an estimated 374,435, were affected by hail damage that year. We want you to be prepared should you find your home damaged by hailstones.
We’re going to walk you through the process of working with your insurance carrier and getting your home resided after storm damage so that you’ll know what’s involved, and tell you about common mistakes to avoid. One of the most important things to remember is that insurance estimates are never complete and always require supplemental claims, if they are done properly.
What is the Insurance Repair Process like?
If you’ve never had to file a claim with your insurance company over damage to your home, that’s great news! We’re going to first review the process so that if you ever need to, you’ll know what to expect. (We’re going to be mentioning hail damage, but obviously, the process for other issues will be similar.)
Before you need to file a claim
There are things that you can (and should!) do even before you ever need to file a claim that will make the process easier:
- First, make sure that you are familiar with the relevant parts of your insurance policy.Do you know what kind of damage is covered? Some policies may change due to the age of your home’s exterior. You may be paid a lesser amount for repairs because of depreciation. It’s better to know that ahead of time so you aren’t surprised with that information when you’re worrying about needing to file a claim.
- Second, if you file a claim, you will need to take photographs of the damage.You should also have photographs of your undamaged home to compare them to. Spend time outside photographing your home’s exterior. It’s a good idea to take photographs yearly, or after any renovations that you do so that you can easily compare “Before” and “After” photographs should the need arise.
- Third, it’s always a good idea to know who are reputable contractors in your area.Ask neighbors, friends, and family if they have worked with any contractors to fix damage to their homes’ exteriors. On a day when you aren’t worried and in need of immediate assistance, spend a few minutes doing an internet search, and learn who the local contractors in your area are. This way, should you need a contractor’s assistance, you’ll already have some idea of whom to contact for estimates and won’t have to start from scratch.
When you need to file a claim
- Have your insurance policy handy. You’ll want to be sure of the details of your coverage when you call your insurance provider and also when you speak with contractors to get estimates.
- You should assess the cost of the damage to your home and property first. It’s important to keep in mind that filing a claim can cause your home insurance rates to increase, even if the claim is small. You should get estimates (remember that list of contractors we suggested you make?) and consider paying the bill yourself. Remember that if you file a claim, you will need to first pay your deductible, regardless. If the damage is not extensive, you may end up spending less or close to the amount of your deductible anyway.
- Take pictures to document the damage. You’ll want these for your records, and to be able to compare to the photos of your home that you took to document its earlier condition. You’ll also want to make sure to keep all documentation relating to the project, no matter how minor a piece of paper might seem.
- When you call contractors to get estimates, you should also look for a licensed and insured local siding contractor that has experience working with insurance companies. That company can work with your insurance company on supplemental claims to properly finance your residing project. 100% of residing projects involve filing supplemental claims. These are claims for additional payment beyond the original insurance estimate.
- Take all of the costs into account. It’s important to talk to contractors beforehand because they can help ensure that you are aware of the cost of materials, labor, and other additional expenses that you might not be thinking of.
- When you call your insurance company, make sure that you are thorough in describing the damage and what caused it. This is an important part of the claims process. Stick to the facts. Be honest. Lying will cause the insurance company to deny your claim, and you could face legal action.Make sure that you only answer the questions that you are asked, and do not give the claims adjuster more information than they request. Remember that they work for the insurance company, which makes more money if they pay out less money for claims.
- Be present for any inspections of the damage. No matter who visits, whether it’s the insurance adjuster or an independent inspector acting on the insurance company’s behalf, you’ll want to be there if possible so that you can answer any questions, and make sure that the adjuster or inspector does not overlook or inadvertently misrepresent any damage or not take into account all of the needed repairs.
- Work with your contractor to choose a matching siding product so that your current and new siding look great together! This is the perfect time to upgrade your siding to a material that is more durable than your previous siding and increases your home’s value. Insurance companies don’t mind if homeowners choose to upgrade their siding during the repair process. They will still pay whatever the amount would have been to replace your original siding material, and you end up with fantastic siding that will do an even better job of protecting your home while also making a renovation that will increase its value.
- Relax and let your contractor install your new siding! This process is just about complete, and now you can focus your energy elsewhere while your contractor does the work of getting your home to look even better than it did before your siding was damaged.
Important Mistakes to Avoid Related to Insurance and Siding
There are a number of mistakes that homeowners make when they are about to start a siding-repair project that involves filing an insurance claim. We want to share them with you and explain why they are mistakes. We hope that this helps you avoid making them, and also further demystifies this process for you!
Mistake #1: Asking contractors for a bid on a siding replacement that is based on the insurance company’s estimate
Let’s say that you call your insurance company to start the claims process before getting estimates on the cost of repairs from contractors. When an adjuster or an independent inspector comes to your home to document the damage for the insurance company, they will create a report that will include their estimate of how much the repair will cost, which is likely to differ from the estimate provided by contractors who are familiar with this kind of work.
Why is this a mistake?
This is NOT the right question to ask. Homeowners are doing themselves a disservice by proceeding this way. The insurance company’s estimate will be lower than what the actual repairs will cost, and your contractor can help you file supplemental claims later. A homeowner will then be very likely to choose a low bid from a contractor. This means that the contractor will be underqualified or do shoddy work.
Homeowners hope that a contractor’s bid will be less than the amount that the insurance company believes the repairs will cost. It’s important to remember that the insurance check is never enough to cover the costs in full anyway. Remember the supplemental claims that we said will need to be made? And the common errors/omissions made by adjustors?
Some homeowners also hope to pocket the cash difference between what the insurance will pay out and the total of a contractor’s bid, but this is a mistake. As we said, it’s incredibly unlikely that your insurer will offer an estimate that is more than what a qualified contractor will tell you a repair costs. It’s also illegal to pocket any extra money from the insurance company.
Mistake #2: Looking for the low bidder
We understand that having to pay for home repairs are among the most expensive projects that homeowners will have to take on. It’s even more frustrating when these repairs are unexpected and are due to no one’s fault. (Thanks, hail!) But, siding repair is definitely one project that you don’t want to skimp on. Your siding protects your home in a variety of ways and is a key component of your home’s curb appeal.
Why this is a mistake
A low bid means shoddy work. No contractor is going to put in the time, energy, and effort of giving you a comprehensive, reliable siding repair for little money. Many “storm chaser contractors” will say anything that they think the homeowner wants to hear. These are contractors who magically show up after storms offering to do repairs for, among other things, lower costs.
Disreputable contractors, whether storm-chaser contractors or otherwise, who offer you lower bids may offer to help you with your deductible. That sounds like a great offer, as it’s money you (theoretically) wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket. This is a RED FLAG! It is illegal, and is proof that the contractor is not planning on doing your residing job properly. It is impossible to do a residing job correctly and do it well below the market rate.
Homeowners need to look for a company that will represent them to their insurance company, and that will be compliant with insurance regulations. Under Mistake #1, we told you about a wrong question that homeowners may ask. One right question to ask of contractors is, “Will you be compliant with my insurance company and help with the claim?”
Mistake #3: Answering door-knockers
We mentioned storm-chaser contractors above, but want to reiterate that you shouldn’t engage with them. These contractors fly in from out of state to show up in areas that have been hit by devastating, damaging storms. They offer very inexpensive estimates.
Why working with them is a mistake
These contractors often lack all the necessary permits and licenses. In Colorado, general contractors, including those who perform siding installation, are licensed on a local level rather than a state level. Therefore, an out-of-state contractor is not going to be licensed where you live, and has no need to maintain a good reputation in your city or town.
They have no stake in performing quality work because they aren’t going to offer you a real warranty on the finished product, and they aren’t going to stick around when they finish it (if they do).
Mistake #4: Trying to do the repair yourself
We also understand that it’s tempting to do a repair yourself, especially if the damage seems to you to be minimal.
Why this is a mistake
We applaud your can-do attitude! However, the learning curve for extensive home-repair is incredibly steep, and it is not a good idea for you to try your hand at siding installation. You can find how-to repair videos of nearly any sort on Youtube. However, most videos that purport to show you how to repair siding do not show the proper installation technique and the specific steps that manufacturers require be followed exactly in order for the product to be covered by its warranty.
Mistake #5: Pulling the permit in the city FOR the contractor
You might think that you’re being helpful, and taking something off the contractor’s plate. It’s your home, after all.
Why this is a mistake
Your contractor is supposed to be the person to pull the permit. Often, a contractor who is not licensed will ask a client to do this, because they know that they will not be able to pull the permit without the proper license. Asking you to do this usually means that the contractor is not insured.
But that’s only the start of your problems. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the minimum building code standards in our area and so does this by “regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy of all buildings and structures.”
The PPRBD clearly states: “It is illegal for a homeowner to obtain a permit for a contractor hired to do the work for you.” Furthermore, “As a homeowner you may obtain a permit only if you are performing the work on your primary residence, which you own and reside in.” So, if you pull the permit, you are taking ownership of the project.
After signing an agreement with the contractor, the homeowner has become the general contractor who hired another construction crew. If anything happens to workers during the repair and installation process, the homeowner is legally responsible. Any injuries, other medical issues, or problems that occur are the responsibility of the homeowner.
How to choose the right siding company for insurance work
You may be wondering how to find the right company for your residing job after a storm, and you need to involve your insurance company. Beyond avoiding the mistakes we’ve listed above, what should you do? Choose a local company. There are many benefits to doing so:
- A locally owned company is available for questions, warranty work, and can help you solve other problems long after the storm is gone.
- Unlike out-of-state storm chasers who aren’t beholden to a local community, local contractors want the business of people in a community; they care about local residents, and are reliable and committed to customer satisfaction.
- Local companies are also properly licensed and insured, and will follow the law and work according to insurance company policies and can help you oversee the entire claim process from A to Z.
- Local companies will happily offer tons of references for you to contact, and they will also be able to share examples of work that they’ve done with all of the products they supply so that you can discuss together what might work best for your particular situation and tastes.
Local contractors can find any kind of siding that exists, which means that they can find a great match to your home’s existing siding. If your existing siding has been discontinued, often insurance companies will pay to replace your home’s entire siding.
We know that needing to reside part of your home damaged by hail is an overwhelming prospect, and we want to help make that process as easy as possible for you. Be familiar with your insurance policy so that you know what is covered in the event of storm damage.
Contact local contractors to get estimates as soon as possible after your home is damaged to determine whether you might even need to file an insurance claim. Look for a local contractor that has a stellar reputation and has experience working with insurance companies. Plus, industry certifications are important.
For example, Seamless Choice is certified by the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). This means we’ve successfully passed the test for proper installation of vinyl siding. VSI is an independent agency that dictates the proper installation techniques for all vinyl siding manufacturers.
When you contact your insurance company, make sure to thoroughly describe the damage to your home and the cause, and be prepared to start saving any and all documentation related to this process, including photographs, estimates, and any other relevant information.
Let your contractor help you determine the best kind of siding for your project. Take your time to consider all your options, including a potential upgrade of your siding material. Relax during the installation process, and look forward to its completion!
Contact Seamless Choice today to schedule a free siding repair estimate and design consultation.