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This is the year we planned to replace our roof. When we bought the house five years ago, the home inspector told us that it was coming up on being due, so it was the next big thing on our list after taking care of a few other important elements over the last few years. We had a couple of big windstorms a few months ago, and lost a couple of shingles which I replaced, but I didn't think any more about it (that just happens, right?).

A roofing company representative knocked on the door the other day and volunteered to check the roof for us. They found a bunch of damage from the windstorms that had escaped my amateur eye. With our authorisation, they filed an insurance claim on our behalf. The insurance adjuster was here today, and he indicated that the claim would be paid. I now have a figure from the insurance company, and am wondering how to proceed.

We have signed documents agreeing that the roofing company that filed the claim on our behalf gets to do the job. I have no qualms with that --- we were going to pay for the whole job ourselves, so we're very happy to only pay a deductible, and we wouldn't be in this situation without them. But, now that I have a figure, is the roofing company going to play games with me? Are they going to charge more than what insurance is going to pay out, leaving me more out of pocket than might otherwise be? How do I proceed in negotiating with the roofing company?

(Sorry if this is not relevant to this StackExchange: it's related to home improvement, but not DIY. Happy to take it somewhere else if mods suggest.)

  • A bit late now, but one thing you need to consider is that reportedly (but I have heard this from quite a few people over the years), while insurance companies don't (in fact, very likely can't) increase premiums based on an individual legitimate claim, they often treat multiple small claims over a number of years as a sign of a problem that can affect renewal premiums or even cause insurance to be dropped. YMMV. – manassehkatz May 14 at 21:17
  • I don't terribly mind my premiums going up as a result of this claim: it's effectively allowing us to pay for the new roof over years at low interest. – Paul Price May 14 at 21:40
  • And it may make perfect sense in this case. It sounds like a big job and therefore makes sense. Just something to watch out for - e.g., if it was a $1,000 job with a $500 deductible then it might not be worth the long term issues (if any - a big unknown), whereas if it is a $4,000 job then clearly it is a different situation. – manassehkatz May 14 at 21:47
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    Another angle: It typically costs a local business $1200 (best case for them) to go to court to settle unpaid invoices, so unless they are taking you for a ride far in excess of that above the insurance payment, you don't have to worry about telling them to shove it. – dandavis May 16 at 19:35
  • Thanks, @dandavis, that's good to know. – Paul Price May 17 at 20:26
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The universal rule is that if the vendor solicits you instead of the other way 'round, he has stacked the deck in his favor at your expense. Either in cost or quality. This is what you pay for the convenience.

If you signed papers then it sounds like the negotiation phase ended.

Your next step is to read the papers you did sign, and see what you are allowed to do, and what you are obliged to do.

We can't guess because we didn't read them either :)

In the future, never, ever, ever, ever, ever hire a company you learn about because they solicited you. You are welcome to say "Get off my property" then use it as a tickler to remind you to do your own self-initiated search for respectable roofing vendors. Also beware of social media which is easily faked like Facebook, or in the business of referrals like Angie's List. Yelp tends to be full of salty gripers, but it's actually not half bad for this, because they really work to keep corruption/fake reviews off.

Also in the future, read before you sign (recommended: never sign the same day). Most people believe "keeping your word" is a cornerstone social value, essential to honesty. Well, think about it, how can you keep your word if you don't know what your word is?

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Read your signed documents, and they should answer your question.

Did they promise a price? Is your insurance claim for the total cost of a bid that the roofer gave you? If you don't trust them, get everything in writing NOW. In fact, get everything in writing now even if you do trust them.

I used to be a licensed contractor, and the insurance claim jobs I did required a formal bid (proposed contract) for the insurance company to accept. Hopefully, you have a bid from the roofer. If they want to charge you more, you have to authorize a change to the bid or contract.

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