Hail Damage And Your Homeowners Insurance

59Ballons (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

A hailstorm is quite a sight to behold. Spheres of ice suddenly start falling from the sky – no matter what the season or what the temperature may be outdoors. Although a hailstorm usually lasts only a few minutes, it can cause tremendous damage to your property, because hailstones tend to fall with such force. Find out more about hail damage and how it can affect your home.

About Hail Damage

Hailstones vary in size from the diameter of a pea (¼ inch) to the largest on record -- a whopping 8 inches. (That’s almost the size of a bowling ball!) But not only size matters when it comes to doing harm to your property; the extent of hail damage will also depend on the hailstones’ density, weight, and shape. The speed at which they fall sometimes reaches 120 mph: that can make for one heck of an impact, even with a small stone. Not surprisingly, the dollar value of hail damage in the US amounts to $1 billion a year. If you’ve just weathered a major hailstorm, check your home for signs of hail damage in order to file an insurance claim.  

Hail Damage: Homeowners Insurance Dos and Don’ts

DON’T go outside during a hailstorm to check the state of your roof, siding, etc.; you’ll be putting yourself at risk.

DO look for any hail damage as soon as the storm is finished. (See the list below.)

DON’T panic. Hail damage is covered by virtually all homeowners insurance policies.

DO contact your insurance provider and let them know about the hail damage ASAP.

DO take photos of all damaged areas of your home and make detailed notes.

DON’T try to walk around on your roof to check for hail damage. Roofing that has been struck by hail could be unstable.

DO find a reliable licensed contractor to give an estimate on the necessary repairs, after an insurance adjuster has inspected your property.

DON’T throw out receipts for any expense, even temporary measures (like covering broken windows with plastic). You may be able to get compensation.

DON’T bother filing a claim if the total repair cost is equal to, or slightly more than, your deductible. You’ll likely end up raising your homeowners insurance premium.

Look for These Signs of Hail Damage

Roof. Your roofing is particularly vulnerable to hail damage, so much that roofs in hail-prone regions need replacement every 7-10 years, rather than the typical 20-year lifespan. From the ground, look for split wood shingles, or asphalt shingles that have lost granules or are shiny, blackened, or dented. Whatever your type of roofing, watch for missing shingles or actual roof punctures. (Ouch!)

Gutters. Aluminum, thin copper, and vinyl gutters are the most susceptible to hail damage. Vinyl gutters may be cracked or punctured, while metal ones will show indentations or protrusions, according to the direction of the falling hail. (A little home improvement humor: Building inspectors nickname these dents “innies” and “outies.”)

Exterior walls and trim. Hail damage to exterior walls and trim of your house, garage, or other outbuildings might include chipped paint, cracked vinyl or wooden siding, dented aluminum siding, or holes in stucco finish.

Windows. Obviously the glass of your windows (or skylights) could be cracked or shattered due to a hailstorm, but be sure to check the condition of your screens, frames, sills, and awnings as well.

Air conditioning system. Your A/C’s outside component, the condenser unit, may be harmed by falling hailstones, particularly the coil and fins. As a result, the air conditioning may function less effectively or stop working altogether.

Landscaping. Young garden plants can be crushed by even the smallest hailstones. Large trees and shrubs might be stripped of leaves and branches, or knocked down completely if the hailstorm also involves strong winds. Consult your homeowners policy to see whether it will compensate you for this type of loss, as well as removal of fallen trees and related debris.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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