Top 5 lessons learned from consumer reviews after a natural disaster

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Written by
Feature Insurance Writer
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Reviewed by
Farmers CSR for 4 Years
UPDATED: 2019-01-25T19:34:14.667Z
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A tree laying on top of the roof of a yellow house after a storm

Hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, blizzards, oh my! The many different types of natural disasters we experience in the U.S. can cause damage to our property and lead to a messy cleanup and difficult insurance situations. Cleaning up from a major storm is definitely not an easy task, especially when insurance companies may cause bumps in your road to repair.

At Clearsurance, we have gathered over a thousand reviews from people who have filed an insurance claim after a natural disaster. Based on their experiences, we have key learnings to share so you can avoid common mishaps like these after major storm.

1. You may want a second opinion from a public adjuster

If a major storm damages your home, and you have to submit a claim with your homeowners insurance company, your company will send an adjuster to your home. They’ll likely send either a company adjuster or an independent adjuster — someone contracted by the company. The adjuster will asses the damage caused by the storm to determine how much it will cost to replace or repair the damage. Be aware that an adjuster might not always price your damage correctly.

If you feel the price you’re quoted by your adjuster won’t adequately cover the repairs needed to fix the damages, it might be in your best interest to get a second opinion from a public adjuster that isn’t hired by your insurance company to make sure you get a fair payout. Keep in mind you’ll be required to pay the public adjuster, so it only makes sense if you feel you’re being shorted a significant amount of money on your claim.

One of the many reviewers in a situation like this described it saying, “3 years ago we had a horrible hail storm and our roof was severely damaged. We had an adjuster come out to look at it and he said there was no damage. We took pictures of him on the roof and showed him the places where the damage was. After fighting with them for weeks they finally agreed to pay for a new roof. What a horrible experience that was.”

2. Insurance companies will be very busy after a natural disaster — the process may take a while

One of the most frequently mentioned complaints we hear from people dealing with damage from a natural disaster is how long the process takes. While it’s frustrating that the process to fix your home is delayed, it’s important to remember that a natural disaster can affect thousands of homes, all of which need an adjuster to come and review their damages.

A recent example is the many claims that stacked up after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. With all three storms happening in a one-month period in 2017, insurance companies were stretched thin. One customer who ran into an issue with the length of the process said, “had damage from Hurricane Irma took a month to get inspector out he spent 5 minutes and took 3 pictures of damage spent another month waiting for claim information. Finally called company was told only 200 in damage including mail box claim denied. Am currently in dispute with company”

By reading consumer reviews of your insurance company on Clearsurance, you can learn how your insurance company responds to policyholders with storm damage to their home. This information can help you figure out if your company will do everything it can to restore your damage in a reasonable time.

3. Do research to choose a contractor

Your insurance company will likely recommend a contractor that the company works with in your area. Fixing your home after a disaster is time sensitive and it can be convenient to get a recommendation from your insurer. However, you want to make sure the contractor will do a good job in a reasonable amount of time. That’s why it’s important to do your research before selecting a contractor.

You’re usually not required to work with the contractor recommended by your insurance company. If the contractor recommended is a good one, you can save some time by going with that one, but don’t be afraid to go with someone you’ve worked with previously and trust.

Your experience with the insurance company’s recommended contractor could go both ways. One reviewer shared a bad experience saying, “had damage to house from hurricane harvey last year, took forever to get someone to come check the damage and then the estimate was less than what it was have to use their contractor and you get shoddy work.”

Another shared their positive experience saying, “I called my insurance agent and even in the awful weather he managed to make out that same day to review and document the damage. I was new to the area and unsure who to call to fix the problem. They went above and beyond to find me a contractor who was willing to come and repair my roof the following day. I highly recommend this company.”

4. How will the damage be fixed?

Imagine a scenario where a storm blows off a portion of the shingles from your roof, but you’re unable to find the exact shingles you have. It happens! So how will your insurance company fix the damage? You may expect your insurer to replace the whole roof so you can have matching shingles. But you may be left with a mismatched roof if your insurance company decides to only replace the damaged section.

One Clearsurance user explains that this happened to them by saying, “few years back when hurricane Sandy hit us, I had lots of damage to my home specially the siding and roof, Allstate would not cover for the siding instead they would only cover for the blown away siding and my house was 18yrs old at that time and it would be hard to find exact same siding and c'mon when I want to sell the house who would buy it with 2 different colors.”

In some cases, insurance companies only patch the part of a roof or siding that was damaged or blew off. It’s important for you to understand how your insurance company will handle damages. Will it replace the whole roof or just the damaged area? What if the shingles you have are no longer available?

5. Your rates will most likely increase after a natural disaster

Insurance rate increases are the most common consumer complaint on Clearsurance. Severe weather and natural disasters are among the many unfortunate reasons consumers may see their rates increase.

If you live in an area that is commonly affected by damaging weather, don’t be shocked if your insurance rates increase. Even policyholders who aren’t devastated with damage after a big storm in their area will likely see an increase, like this homeowner, “We were told that our rates went up because of a tornado that hit 10 miles from here. We had no damage, have never filed a claim, but still got out rates raised”

Natural disasters greatly increase the number of insurance claims in an area. Insurance companies experience huge losses during severe natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and other severe weather. The cost to make repairs is dispersed among all policyholders so that insurance can be affordable to everyone, even those who have suffered a huge loss to their property.

Have you learned an insurance lesson after filing a claim for damage caused by severe weather? Share your experience by writing a review of your insurance company and how it handled your situation.

The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an insurance company or an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the insurance company or any individual attorney.

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