It’s been more than three weeks since tropical storm Leslie made her unwelcome visit, and I’m still dealing with the storm. Waiting on roofers and insurance adjusters has tested my patience, but taught me some lessons, as well.
I’ve never had to make a house insurance claim, so the process was new to me. During the storm, a section of my roof flapping in the air sent jitters down my spine and I worried about the tug at my pocketbook. I know nothing about shingles or wind damage, but what was once flat was no longer so, and it just didn’t look right.
I called a roofing company that afternoon. I’d seen their ads and an online search gave them the thumbs up. The owner told me he was already on the hustle doing repairs. I told him I was unsure of the extent of my damage, that I didn’t think it was as bad as some others, but I needed help. He said if he wasn’t in the next day, he would be by on the weekend.
I called a few days later for an update, and he indicated they’d get to me soon. Monday morning I saw the company truck in the neighbourhood doing a job and I thought maybe I was next.
By Tuesday afternoon, still nothing and another phone call didn’t go well. They weren’t going to get to me until the end of the week at the earliest. I wondered aloud if I should seek out someone else. The contractor’s words were clear but a week too late: “Doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “If you can find someone else, go for it.”
The search began. The first call and the company said they’d get to me in the next day or two, guaranteed by Friday. They didn’t show. A week and a half after the storm, and still no roofer. The newest guy tells us to call early Monday morning.
I had similar luck with the insurance company. A newspaper ad right after the storm said to submit claims as quickly as possible. I wasn’t sure I had one, but made the weekend call anyway. “I am not licensed to tell you that” was the reply to my inquiry about my uncertainty about filing a claim given I didn’t know the scope of the damage yet.
On Monday morning my insurance broker was more understanding, but the process left something to be desired. Determine the damage, make emergency repairs and then file a claim. They’d send out someone to assess things and determine if it was caused by the storm. Hmm … I can’t get a roofer to tell me if I have damage. If one shows up, do I send them on their way again until my insurer agrees to help pay? I don’t think so.
I posted an appeal for similar stories on Facebook and Twitter, and got a few. Most of them praised their insurance companies. One told me “our fence blew down. We called our insurance provider while the storm was still blowing and contractors were in that afternoon!” Another said she called her insurance broker the morning after the storm and someone showed up within hours.
Some were like me. There is more than one home still undressed, insulation or wrapping showing where the siding should be. Contractors told me they were up to their eyeballs with work. And since we filed our claim, we’ve been waiting days for an adjuster.
I will pay more attention to the words of wisdom from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. They advise: “If your property has suffered insured damage, contact your insurance representative after the storm passes. If it’s safe to do so, mitigate against further damage after the storm passes. If you need to make a claim, it’s best to initiate the process as soon as possible.”
Next time, the insurer will be my first call. But contractors who say they will be somewhere should show up, or at least phone and say they can’t make it. To those who didn’t, the damage to your business is done. Good luck in fixing that.
Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org