Hail is responsible for billions of dollars of damage each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. It only takes one bad hailstorm to damage your roof or siding, dent your vehicle or crack your windshield. Knowing what to expect, along with having the right auto and home insurance, will help you to protect your biggest investments.
What causes hail?
Hail commonly occurs during severe thunderstorms. It’s formed when storm winds carry rain up into the extremely cold parts of the atmosphere. The rain freezes, comes in contact with more rain that freezes to it, and ultimately becomes a chunk of ice. Eventually, the hailstones grow heavy and fall to the ground.
Hail can be as small as the size of a pea or as large as a softball. Most hail, however, is golf ball-sized or smaller. Windspeeds can cause hail to hit at a rate between 44-72 mph. Hail mixed with high winds has been known to cause severe damage.
What damage can hail do to your home?
ROOFS: Roof damage from hail is common. Large pieces of hail can make dents in shingles and destroy the roof’s finishes. Different types of shingles show damage in different ways. For asphalt and composition shingles, look for dings that are black in color or soft to the touch. They may resemble a bruise on an apple. Also, look for loss of granules on asphalt; the shingles may appear shiny. For wood shingles, look for splits that are brown or orange and have sharp edges. Damaged shingles can cause your roof to leak or create water damage to the structure below. Getting these fixed is important to keeping the integrity of your roof.
Pro-Tip: Are you renovating your home? Consider impact-resistant shingles that can withstand hail. Not only will they help to reduce damage, but they may also help you qualify for a discount on your property insurance.
SIDING: Hail can cause dents in aluminum siding and cracks in vinyl or wood siding. Water can seep in and cause problems. Look for warping or buckling, chipping, cracks, dents and holes. It’s best to do this when the sun isn’t too bright, as it could cast shadows and prevent you from seeing the damage. Again, get any damaged siding fixed as soon as you are able.
GLASS: During a hailstorm, stay away from skylights, windows, and glass doors, which are at risk for breakage from hail. Close your drapes, blinds, or shades in case a broken window occurs. This can help keep some of the glass from being blown around your house. Also, you may choose to install shutters which can help to protect your glass. You have a responsibility to make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your property from further damage, as per your insurance contract. Your insurance company might reimburse you for these costs.
PATIO FURNITURE: Protect your patio furniture by covering it, or moving it inside a garage. Prune your trees ahead of time to remove weak or dead branches that can cause additional problems.
What damage can hail do to your car?
WINDSHIELD AND WINDOWS: Similar to the glass in your home, your car’s windshield, windows, and sunroof can be cracked or even shattered by hail. Cover your vehicle with a car cover. You can buy one or make your own with blankets. Secure the blankets with duct tape; while it may leave a sticky residue, it will not damage your paint.
CAR BODY: Hail can dent your car’s body as well the glass and a car cover can help. If a hailstorm is coming, park your car under an awning or in a garage. You can move your car to a local mall with a parking garage if you don’t have one. If you are driving during a hailstorm, pull over. Angle your car so that hail hits your reinforced windshield rather than the side and back windows.
What kind of insurance do you need?
You can’t control the weather, but you can purchase the insurance that keeps your home and your vehicle protected in case they are damaged by a hailstorm. These policies will give you the money you need to repair or replace covered items, subject to your policy deductible.
In most states, hail is one of the covered perils in a homeowner’s policy. Your dwelling coverage pays for repairs to your roof or siding while detached structures fall under “other structures coverage.” If hail gets inside and damages belongings, that can be covered under homeowner’s insurance. For personal property to be covered, the direct force of the wind or hail must damage the building, causing an opening in a roof or wall. You unfortunately won’t get any coverage if you leave the window or door open.
- If you live in a state that is prone to hailstorms, you may not be covered. You may have to purchase an endorsement to your policy or even a separate windstorm and hail policy to be covered for hailstorms.
- Your policy may have an exclusion for cosmetic damage to the roof and/or siding. If the damage done by hail is cosmetic, your policy will not pay. Cosmetic damage is considered damage that does not prevent the roof surface or siding coverings from functioning as a barrier to weather elements over an extended period of time.
- Depending upon the age of your roof (typically 10 years of age or more), actual cash value loss settlement could apply, meaning that you’ll receive an amount based on depreciation.
- If the damage isn’t higher than your deductible, you probably don’t need to file a claim. You can pay out of pocket, as insurance only kicks in after the deductible is met.
Not all auto insurance policies cover hail damage. You have to have the right type of coverage.
- Other Than Collision Coverage or OTC is for natural disasters, fires, vandalism, theft, and animals that damage your vehicle. Think of it as “bad luck coverage.” This coverage is not usually required unless you’re leasing a vehicle or paying a car loan. However, it’s valuable to protect your car from hailstorm damage.
- If your car needs to stay in the shop, you will want an insurance policy with Transportation Expenses coverage, also known as rental reimbursement. If you carry coverage for damage to your auto, your California Casualty policy automatically includes coverage for a rental car up to $20 a day. For an additional fee, you can increase that amount.
- If hailstorms damage your car to the extent that it is totaled, your insurance policy will likely pay you for the actual cash value of your car.
Talk to your insurance agent to see what is covered under your policy before the next hailstorm strikes. That way you’ll be fully prepared.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.