A couple from Lake County, Indiana, has been fighting with State Farm insurance for months over their roof damage claim. They said their roof was damaged by a hail storm in March 2023, but the insurance company denied their claim, saying there was no hail that day.
Hail storm hits Northwest Indiana
Irma and Alan Johnsen said they witnessed a hail storm on March 26, 2023, that covered their yard with ice pellets. They said the hail was about one inch in size and looked like snow. They were worried about their roof, which they had replaced in 2019.
“I thought that we should get it checked and make sure it’s not problems or anything,” Alan Johnsen said.
They contacted a contractor, who inspected their roof and found hail strikes, shingles that were lifting and cracking. The contractor advised them to get the roof replaced to avoid leaks, at a cost of more than $19,000.
The Johnsens said they contacted their insurance company, State Farm, to file a claim. They said the first adjuster who came to their house confirmed the damage and said they would get an estimate. But then, they said, the adjuster disappeared.
State Farm denies the claim
The Johnsens said State Farm sent out another adjuster, who had a different opinion on their roof. He said the damage was due to wear and tear, not hail. He also said there was no hail in St. John, Indiana, since 2022.
“He said basically you have wear and tear,” Alan Johnsen said. “The damage was about $500 and your deductible is more than that so we’re not going to give you anything.”
The Johnsens were shocked by the denial. They said they had evidence of the hail storm, including photos, videos and reports from the National Weather Service. The NWS confirmed that there were several reports of hail in Northwest Indiana on March 26, 2023, including one inch size hail in St. John.
“Who are we dealing with? This is a company we expect to be reputable, responsible,” Irma Johnsen said. “They have worn us out.”
The Johnsens said they appealed the denial several times, but State Farm did not budge. They said they felt helpless and frustrated by the situation.
The Johnsens contacted ABC7 I-Team for help. The I-Team reached out to State Farm and asked them about the claim. A spokesperson responded in part:
“With any claim, State Farm seeks to provide our customer all benefits to which they are entitled within the terms of the insurance policy. We continue to actively work with our customer on their claim to understand the facts of the loss, identify the damages and applicable coverage, and ultimately resolve their claim.”
The spokesperson did not explain why State Farm denied the hail storm or why there was a discrepancy between the two adjusters.
The I-Team also spoke to an independent roofing expert, who said hail damage can be hard to detect and sometimes requires a forensic analysis. He said insurance companies may have different criteria for determining hail damage and may use different sources of weather data.
He advised homeowners to document any storm damage as soon as possible and to get multiple opinions from contractors and adjusters. He also suggested hiring a public adjuster or an attorney if the claim is disputed.
The Johnsens said they are considering taking legal action against State Farm. They said they hope their story will help other homeowners who may face similar issues with their insurance claims.
“We want them to do what’s right,” Irma Johnsen said. “We want them to honor their contract.”