Anyone who has ever been through a hailstorm knows the potential damage these storms can bring. While they rarely last long, they can pack quite a punch. A single hailstorm that hit St. Louis in April of 2012 dropped hailstones the size of baseballs and resulted in an estimated $1.6 billion dollars in damage. Hail damage occurs in every U.S. state except Alaska and Hawaii, so it is important that you understand your insurance policy as it pertains to hail storms.
- According to NOAA, there are about 10,000 to 12,000 hailstorms in the U.S. annually
- More than half of all hailstorms have hail that is 1 inch or larger in diameter, which can do significant damage to buildings, cars or crops
- On average, each of the 48 contiguous states reports about 120 hailstorms each year
- The largest hailstone on record fell in Vivian, South Dakota in 2010; it was 8 inches in diameter and weighed 1.94 pounds
Is Hail Damage Covered by Insurance?
Hail that is an inch in diameter or greater can do significant damage to homes and vehicles, and can affect animals and crops which are important assets for farmers. Hail insurance is not usually something you need to purchase as a separate rider; it is typically included in most homeowners policies. Also, if you have a comprehensive insurance policy for your vehicle, damage to your car or truck can be covered. If you carry only liability insurance, you will likely have to pay for hail damage to your car out of pocket.
While hail damage is typically covered by homeowners policies, there may be restrictions on hail insurance claims. Some policies have higher deductibles for claims due to hail or wind damage. Others may require the claim to be filed within a certain timeframe following the storm. Often, hail damage to roofs does not result in noticeable problems or leaks for months or even years, so it is important to have your roof checked for damage soon after a potentially destructive storm.
Filing a Hail Damage Claim
Filing a hail damage claim takes a few steps to ensure that you get the settlement quickly:
- Make note of the date of the storm.
- Take detailed photos of all the storm damage on your property.
- Contact your insurance agent to schedule a visit from an adjuster, or get a professional assessment from a contractor on the extent of the damage. This is particularly important when it comes to your roof because roof hail damage is often hard to detect without a professional inspection.
- Consider collecting at least three estimates from contractors to repair the damage, and submit them to your agent.
- After the adjuster pays a visit, check with your agent about approval of the claim.
- If the claim is approved, you will receive a settlement check from the insurance company to cover the cost of repairs.
How Can I Mitigate Damage?
If your roof is worn, aging or missing shingles prior to a hailstorm, the resulting damage may be more extensive and might not be fully covered. Taking care of roof repairs can prevent more costly repairs and clean-up later. If you live in an area that is prone to hailstorms, be sure to keep your roof well-maintained.
If there is a chance of a hailstorm in your location, you can protect your vehicle by parking it in a garage or other covered area. You can also cover patio furniture, bring any ornamental yard decorations inside that might be damaged, and cover delicate plants. Most importantly, protect yourself. During a hailstorm, stay indoors and away from windows and skylights.
Know Your Coverage Options
Many of us underestimate the potential damage that a hailstorm can cause. If you live in an area that has its share of hailstorms, it is a good idea to review the hail damage coverage on your home, auto or farm policy, and find out whether you need additional protection.