2013 Hail Damage

The results are in, and the destruction is on the rise

The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA) has published some jaw-dropping numbers showing hail damage at nearly all-time highs. No one quite knows why, but in addition to wilder weather, there are simply more and more homes being built in “hail alleys” around the country, particularly in the Midwest. Colorado’s Front Range is located in the heart of it, receiving the highest frequency of large hail in the world. If you live here, the chances are there will be three to four catastrophic hailstorms every year in your region, defined by as causing at least $25 million in insured damage.

In the last decade, Colorado hailstorms have caused more than $3 billion in insured damage. This translates into nearly half the insured value of home owners insurance policies going to cover wind and hail damage. The RMIIA publishes more data at their site, www.rmiia.org, and the association offers some helpful tips to homeowners on what to do after a hail storm:

First, if a hailstorm strikes, don’t go out in the storm to try to protect your property. You could be injured. When it’s safe…

 

Assess the damage

  • Check trees, shrubs and plants around your house. If they are stripped of their foliage, there is a possibility that your roof is damaged. You should also check for roof damage if patio covers, screens or soft aluminum roof vents are dented.
  • Check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass.

Protect your property from further damage

  • If you find signs that hail has battered your property, take immediate steps to protect it from further damage.
  • Cover any broken windows and holes in your roof so that no water can enter and damage your home’s interior.
  • Cover any broken glass in your car to prevent damage to the interior from rain and remove glass from the car’s interior to prevent cuts in upholstery and carpet.

File your claim

  • Call your agent or company as soon as you notice damage. Practically all homeowners’ policies cover hail damage. You car will be covered if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage.
  • If your agent or company requests you to do so, follow up your call with a written explanation of what happened.
  • Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Select a repair company.

  • After an insurance adjuster has surveyed the hail damage to your property, select a reputable roofing company or auto body shop to make repairs.
  • Allow only the insurance adjuster and roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.
  • Be wary of out-of-town roofers who move into an area and set up shop following a storm. While most of these firms are reputable, some have collected money from homeowners and moved on to the next storm site without paying suppliers or leaving work unfinished. This can leave homeowners holding the bag for those additional costs. It’s a good idea to select a company with established credibility and local references. Word of mouth is still your best guide.
  • Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they don’t, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured or if they damage a neighbor’s property.
  • Don’t make final payment to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected and you are satisfied.

Use hail resistive roofing materials.

  • When building a new home or replacing your roof consider using hail-resistive roofing products. The insurance industry has an Underwriters Laboratory standard ranking, the UL 2218 standard. The standard has four impact-level designations that will help you compare products. Roof coverings that show the most resistance earn a Class 4 rating; the least, a Class 1 rating.
  • Impact-resistant Roofs: Smart Steps to Reduce Hailstorm Damage is a free, online learning experience that consists of four self-paced learning modules. It teaches homeowners and other consumers about the benefits of installing impact-resistant residential roofing products. Click here for more information.

If you’re a home buyer looking for a house in Colorado or other “hail alley” around the country, check out the Housefax Property History Report to see if there has been a building permit for a new roof. If there hasn’t been one in 20 years, you can be reasonably sure that the roof has been damaged by hail and should be replaced. Reports ordered from www.housefax.com also include a Catastrophe Fax section that alerts buyers and homeowners of past hail storms and a Hail Exposure Score that helps determine the probability of future storms in the area. This important data point can help “buyer aware” shoppers avoid properties with problems, or give them a point of negotiation before making a final offer on a home.