What Do You Do When Your Home is Hit with Hail?
Hail can be a devastating experience, especially if you’ve never been through a big hail storm before as a homeowner. Colorado’s front range is known as hail alley with the hail season ranging from April to September. In general, Colorado residents can expect at least three to four damaging hail storms every year. When your home is hit by hail it’s important that you stay calm and take the appropriate steps to protect your home.
Steps to Take Immediately After A Hailstorm
1. Note When the Storm Occurred for Your Records
Your insurance company will have access to a number of tools that track when storms happen, but it’s important you keep your own records. Most insurance companies have a limit on how much time you have to file a claim after a storm hits. This can range from one to three years depending on your insurance carrier. Storms will range in frequency and level of damage, but just because your neighbor doesn’t have damage doesn’t mean you don’t. So, keep track of storms as they happen along with documenting any associated damage.
2. Document Any Damage
Once the storm has passed, you’ll want to do an assessment of the damage to your home. A roof inspection is recommended, but you can also identify signs of damage safely from the ground. Hailstones typically need to be at least one inch in diameter to inflict damage to your home. Much smaller hail can also hit, causing damage. Be sure to take photos as you go through your inspection to share with your roofer and your insurance company.
How to Identify Hail Damage on Your Home
To identify hail damage from the ground look for these signs immediately after the storm:
- Any remaining hailstones. Use a coin for reference in your photos to show how large the hail is.
- Missing shingles or shingles on the ground. You can wait for a professional to get up on your roof, but if you see any shingles on the ground it’s a good indicator of damage.
- Broken windows on your home or car.
- Damage to outside appliances like air conditioners.
- Damage to plants; branches off of trees, leaves on the ground, etc.
- Any leaks, inside or outside your home.
- Pockmarks on your siding where the hail has damaged the paint.
- For asphalt roofs, look for granules in the downspouts. This is typically a sure sign of damage to the roof.
3. Address Any Urgent Damage
If your home has been hit by a truly devastating hailstorm it’s important to address any severe damage as soon as possible. If you have a leaking roof or broken windows start with those areas first. Your roof may need to tarp your roof, which a roofing contractor can also help with. If you’ve got broken windows be sure to clean up any glass and cover those as best as you can to avoid any additional damage.
4. Schedule a Roof Inspection with a Local Roofer
After a hailstorm, it’s common to see your neighborhood overrun with roofing contractors. This can be the most overwhelming part of the hailstorm experience for many homeowners. It’s difficult to know who you can trust, because many of these roofers are what we refer to as “storm chasers”. This refers to roofers based in other states who travel the nation chasing hail storms in search of work. The problem with working with one of these companies is that they are known for using sleazy tactics to trap you into contracts. “Storm chasers” won’t be there for you down the road when issues arise. One of the most common storm chaser tactics is to have you sign something before they inspect your roof. This is often pitched as a waiver so they can get on your roof. In reality, it’s a contract locking you into working with them should they find any damage. A good roofer should be fully insured and have workers’ compensation so there is no need to sign ANYTHING before they get on top of your roof!
Which Roofs Typically Get the Most Hail Damage
Asphalt roofs are the most common to sustain hail damage, while tile, flat roofs, and stone coated steel are much less likely to be damaged by hail. As hail hits an asphalt shingle, the impact will cause the granules to detach from the shingle itself and leave behind a small circle. If there are enough of these marks then your entire roof or a large section of it will need to be replaced. Schedule an inspection with your preferred roofer to get a professionals opinion.
5. Contact Your Insurance and File a Claim
Once you’ve had your roof professionally inspected and hail damage has been confirmed, you’ll want to contact your homeowners’ insurance to begin the claims process. This usually involves an adjuster doing an independent inspection of your home for damage. If you’re able to, we highly recommend coordinating with your roofer so they can be there to meet your adjuster. Adjusters travel all over the country to support insurance clients nationwide. By having your roofer there to meet with them, you have a well-versed advocate in your corner fighting to get you the most money possible. If your roofer can’t be there or you haven’t selected a roofer yet, make sure you have all of your photos and documentation of the storm ready for the adjuster.
Do You Have to Use Your Insurance Companies Preferred Roofer?
This question comes up frequently and it’s important that you know what options are available to you. In short, you are not required to use your insurance company’s preferred roofer. It is against the law for an insurance company to demand that you use a specific company for your hail restoration, so we recommend treating this like any other home project and going with a company that you feel most comfortable with.