Hail storm damage has become a growing concern in the US in recent years. With more homes built in vulnerable places and the rising cost of roofing materials among other reasons, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that hail storms have caused up to $10 billion in damage of late.
While some states hold a bigger share of claims than others, many states rank high for claim severity, frequency, and overall damage. Florida ranks third for claim severity with an average of $7,900 a claim. Texas is highest for overall claims loss. The Midwest clearly takes the top spots for auto damage caused by hail with South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas topping the list.
Hail damage can be hard to detect as it mainly impacts the roof and many homeowners don’t notice a problem until long after a storm. However, this has also led to higher amounts of fraud, particularly in Florida where the Assignment of Benefits Crisis has gained the attention of the state legislature for its severity. Unscrupulous contractors have knocked on doors to claim hail damage and quickly secured a new roof for the homeowner at an inflated price with minor damage actually affecting the roof. The problem arises when the insurer questions the inflated claim and the contractor takes them to court. Escalated legal fees and an overabundance of claims have led to a rising cost for insurance across the board for homeowners.
How to Spot Hail Damage
One of the most tell-tale signs of hail damage is that it doesn’t occur in isolation. You should notice splatter and random damage across a roof, on gutters and drains, even dents on AC units. Dark patches spread across roof shingles usually indicate hail damage, as well as damage to shingle caps, the most vulnerable parts of a roof.
What doesn’t constitute hail damage is gradual loss of granules on shingles (which is common) or small manufacturer defects or marks. For helpful images, check out the brochure issued by The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). Their goal is to help homeowners identify true hail damage and encourage them to find certified roofing specialists who will install impact-resistant shingles.
Hail storm damage on automobiles is much more straightforward to identify. Look for random dented impacts on the vehicle’s roof as well as any shattered or cracked glass.
Protecting Against Hail Damage
Several factors play into the amount of hail risk. First, consider the type of materials used on your roof. Most types of roofing material can be found in impact-resistant forms that minimize hail damage. This includes asphalt shingles (the most popular roofing material), tile, slate, and even metal, though it can show more cosmetic damage after hail. The slope of your roof will also be a factor in lessening hail concerns. The steeper the grade, the smaller the impact risk. Consider this when purchasing a property.
The IBHS recently tested and rated impact-resistant shingles based on the strength and longevity of the material after a simulated hail storm. They ranked the Atlas Storm Master Shake as their top performer with excellent marks in nearly all categories. If you’re installing a new roof and want to check with your contractor, you can view IBHS’s complete ratings here. The IBHS also suggests that business owners with roof-top HVAC equipment purchase protective hail guards, usually in the form of netting.
According to Disastersafety.org, homeowners can also protect areas besides roofing materials. For homes with siding, they recommend owners purchase fiber-cement materials which are more resilient than vinyl or aluminum. Skylights can also be installed with impact-resistance. And in the event of a hailstorm, don’t forget to close window blinds and drapes to protect the inside of your home against broken glass in the event of an impact.
Insurance and Hail Damage
A standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for destructive forces like hail, as does a car insurance policy. For homeowners, however, the amount of what is covered will depend on a few factors like where you live and how your policy is structured. If you live in a high-risk hail state like Texas, North Carolina, or Colorado, your policy may provide different considerations. Check with your agent to understand the specifics of your coverage for hail damage.
When the storm is clear, check for damage. If the damage is visible from the ground level, take pictures. If you believe the storm was strong enough to cause roof damage, call your agent. They can help you set up an initial inspection for your roof and other damaged areas. Send them any pictures you may have taken to help establish an assessment of the hail damage.
Once you and your agent file a claim for any damage, you can continue the repairs process with a reputable contractor. You may want to discuss impact-resistant materials and make sure they’re being used in the repair to help prevent future hail problems. Filing a claim for hail will not necessarily raise rates for your homeowners policy either since it isn’t due to any negligence on the owner’s part. The best thing to do is file promptly and create a timeline for repairs as well as an open line of communication with your agent.
If you have questions about the impact of hail damage on your policy, call your agent at Fudge Insurance. We’re here to help. Stay safe and don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.