Throughout most of the US, spring and summer is storm season and often that means hail stones raining down on your home. The biggest hail stone ever recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was 7 inches in diameter, but even the garden variety 2” diameter hail stones can do a lot of damage. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your property, along with tips for filing a homeowners insurance claim for hail damage.
Prevent Hail Damage
Before storm season, check inside your attic for any signs of water damage and have any leaks repaired.
Have your roof professionally inspected. Repair or replace worn or damaged shingles, ideally an impact-resistant variety. While the inspector is up there, have him take a look at your roof sheathing, too, to make sure it is properly secured. Now take pictures of the intact roof and keep them in a “before” file with a receipt from the inspection. They’ll come in handy if there’s any dispute about a hail damage claim.
During a storm, stay indoors and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Close drapes, shade and window blinds to prevent wind from blowing broken glass into your home. Pull your car into the garage and put any portable outdoor furniture that might be dented under shelter.
Filing a Claim
Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage done by hail. Some insurers in areas of the country that are prone to heavy hail damage have made changes to coverage and no longer automatically include it or have raised deductibles for hail losses. If you’re not sure, check your policy’s exclusions and limitations before a storm hits.
If your roof or windows are damaged by hail, as soon as it’s safe, cover the damage with a secured waterproof tarp to prevent additional water damage. Take pictures of the damage for your records. Then
call your insurance company.
How much you’ll be reimbursed for damages will depend on your insurer. Some policies consider the age of your roof. If it’s under 10 years old, they may cover the whole cost of repair or replacement to the damage
portion (less your deductible). If it’s an older roof, they may reimburse at a depreciated value that takes the age and wear and tear into account. If the insurance adjuster finds that the damage was the result of your failure to maintain your roof in good condition, they may reject your claim. This is where those “before” photos and maintenance documentation will come in handy.