How to File an Insurance Claim for Hail Damage to Your Roof

Roof Damage

The winter season brings so much joy! From spending time with friends and family over holiday meals to enjoying the brilliant scenery the first snowfall brings. These are the parts of the cold-weather season many look forward to.

For those that live in colder areas, such as the northeast, winter can also bring some severe weather. This can mean not just snow and ice, but also hail—and when hail is bad, it’s bad.

Hail storms are common in the U.S., but most often, hail is minor nuisance. However, as those balls increase to quarter and golf-ball size, our homes and other property can experience dents, dings, and other damage. NASDAQ reported that in 2015, “the number of major hail events (storms producing hail of at least one inch in diameter) totaled 5,411.” And the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration published a report that said hail can be a “major catastrophic form of weather,” and can cause more than $1 billion worth of damage in a typical year.

That’s where insurance comes in. But filing a claim doesn’t always mean help will come. Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind should you have to file an insurance claim for hail damage (we’re focusing on homes; auto insurance is another topic):

  • Take note of the date and time of the storm and damage; documentation is key.
  • Contact your agent immediately. Find out what is covered and what is not.
  • Take photos not just for reference, but also for your records; try to use a high-quality camera with a macro lens feature if possible so you can be detailed.
  • If hail causes a hole in your roof, don’t fix it until someone assesses the damage; you can of course cover it with a tarp to avoid damage, but fixing immediately could adversely affect your claim.
  • Get an estimate from more than one roofing contractor, and be aware that some fly-by-night roofing companies may appear after a hail storm! It’s a must to work with a reputable, licensed roofing company. Get estimates in writing because your insurance company’s adjuster will need them.
  • Cooperate with the adjuster; but also, don’t take the first offer—make sure the claim covers what you really need. The claims adjuster and your contractor should meet so that a roofing professional can advocate on your behalf.
  • Check your manufacturer’s warranty on roofing systems, such as gutters—they may not be covered for hail damage.

If you live in a hail-prone area—Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska are the most likely to see major hail events according to NASDAQ—be sure you have the proper coverage. Like anything involving insurance, let’s be prepared, but hope we never need to use it! 

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