Pennsylvania experienced an intense hail storm at the end of May. The storm damage from one day in 2014 was worse than the average year of hail damage for the Keystone State. Merlin Law Group knows that insurance companies should promptly and properly respond to hail claims, but all too often we see these claims improperly adjusted. Hail damage is a peril that can cause damage blatantly obvious (every car in the parking lot was honored with a smashed windshield) or, the damage can be more discreet but still extremely harmful to property, especially with hail damage to roofs.

According to Insurance Journal and the National Weather Service, the “hail — some reportedly the size of tennis balls — fell across parts of eastern Pennsylvania… cracking car windshields, breaking windows and damaging siding. Emergency management officials in Berks and Montour counties said they have received a flood of calls about damage but no reports of serious injuries, according to an Associated Press report”

Now that a few weeks have passed since the storm, policyholders with claims not being handled in a proper fashion are getting frustrated. If this is the situation you are facing, we encourage you to get help from a licensed professional that can offer you true assistance on the claims. Policyholders can call on attorneys who handle first party property insurance disputes or dedicated, licensed, and bonded public insurance adjusters, but other “professionals” – especially those soliciting you directly – should not be telling you they can successfully negotiate your insurance claim. If you hear these promises – Beware! Only licensed public insurance adjusters and attorneys can negotiate these losses. Recently, we have heard from the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters that storm chaser contractors are preying on hail damage claimants and taking advantage of the situation. Hopefully the regulatory powers will stop this unlicensed adjusting, but make sure you are vetting every professional you hire and know the scope of work that is legal for them to provide.

Geno Veno, from AAPIA, sent out a warning to the residents of Pennsylvania about storm chaser negotiators, but these words of wisdom apply to all policyholders who have damage and need professional help:

If someone comes to your home or business offering to help you repair your property please make sure that the person offering help is a local, licensed professional. Ask to see a license or license number. Get references. And remember, that a roofer, or other contractor CANNOT offer to perform repairs in exchange for your homeowner’s insurance proceeds, and CANNOT offer to help you with your insurance claim. Only a licensed public adjuster can perform those activities. Don’t be caught unaware by an unlicensed storm chaser, who will take advantage of you in this time of stress and chaos.

If you have questions about your hail claim, be sure to document all the damage and never give away your original copies of receipts or photos.

To read more on the problem of repair companies acting as public insurance adjusters, see our other posts:

Contractor Ordered to Cease and Desist from Unlicensed Public Adjusting

Roofers Posing as Public Adjusters

Florida Public Adjusters Make Progress Fighting Code Changes

If you have legal questions regarding your hail claim or any other loss property loss, you can always comment below or contact us directly.