Hail damage - am I insured?

Insurance hail claims

Summer time and the living is easy, until it hails. Now what? Will the insurance company pay for the repairs? How big is your deductible? Is it worth it to put in a claim?

Hail is something that is really hard to control. The insurance companies do try to minimize hail losses by having planes go up and seed the clouds. This causes rain to fall and reduces the build up of moisture which can result in the very large hail that does the most damage. Even with these measures you cannot prevent hail.

It is usually in your best interest to have the insurance company take a look at your damage. If the claim is denied you at least have an expert opinion as to the damage you have to repair. If the claim can proceed then you weigh the cost of the deductible and losing that claims free discount. You make your decision with unbiased information. You may choose to hire your own contractors rather then using the preferred vendors of the insurance company. This is all part of the negotiations you have with your insurance adjuster/examiner.

People who live in an area where hail is more common often see this reflected on their insurance premiums. If you have a claim then you lose your claims-free discount. So they pay more. There can be a surcharge for the high-risk areas for people who have never had a claim. So they pay more. One way to negate this charge to is to pay for a hail resistant roof - slate and metal are much more resistant than an asphalt shingled roof or wood shakes. This will give you a discount to counter the hail surcharge.

Hail damage to business

It is possible that a hailstorm could cause damage to your business property. If the damage was severe enough to prevent customers from coming to your store then you might have a business interruption claim. The resultant damage of the hail to your goods would also be considered as part of your claim.

Hail could damage your delivery trucks and you would have a claim for repair. You might have loss of use coverage and would use this as well to continue your ongoing operation and maintain profitability.

Hail could also damage your air conditioning units resulting in an equipment breakdown. This could shut down your coolers and if your business is dependent on this function then you would have an interruption of business income. If the storm was bad enough it could affect the power lines coming to your building.

Hail damage to roof

Hail storms are often part of high winds. You and your neighbours can find yourselves with shingles or shakes all over the ground after a particularly bad storm. You may not all qualify for an insurance claim.

The insurance company will send out an appraiser who may or may not be accompanied by your adjuster/examiner. The damage to the roof will be inspected. The condition of the damaged shingles will also be considered. The contractor who comes by and says, "definitely hail" is not recognized as an authority by the insurance company.

If you have an older roof covering then you may find that little or nothing is going to be paid by the insurance. If it is determined that your remaining shingles are old and worn then the ones that came off have little value. There could be hail damage that is from prior years that does not "count" for this current hail storm.

It could be that your shakes came off the roof because they had some rot and were not in good condition. This has been a common occurrence with some of the wood shakes that were so popular. They looked beautiful when installed but proceeded to rot and a good wind will rip them off. Unfortunately insurance does not cover rot. The rot is part of the cause of the loss so the insurance does not pay. This could explain why your neighbour gets paid and you do not.

Hail is tricky when it comes to the roof of mobile homes and metal farm outbuildings. The hail must pierce the skin. If the hail only makes dents then there is no insurance coverage. This unsightly dimpling would be at your cost to replace.

Hail damage to home

Hail can destroy the siding, fascia, and eavestroughs. Hail has been known to damage window frames and even break the glass. There are not many materials that can stand up to these hard ice projectiles. Hail damage is usually covered for your home as long as you do not have prior damage that has not been repaired.

You may have a greenhouse or atrium that suffers hail damage. The atrium is usually covered but a greenhouse can often have a hail and wind exclusion. If it does not have an exclusion it may have a much higher deductible for damage to that particular unit. If your home and greenhouse are both damaged by hail then likely the insurer will just apply the one deductible, whichever is the highest.

If the hail does smash a window and water comes into the house causing further damage then this also would be considered the same claim. Insurance usually looks at each instance as a separate claim with a relevant deductible. If your home and your vehicle are both hit at the same time by the same hail storm then the insurer usually will waive one of the deductibles.

Hail damage to vehicles and trailers

Hail damage is something you just cannot avoid in a vehicle. If you are caught in a hailstorm out in the open then there is nothing you can do. Hopefully you purchased Section C coverage - at a minimum of Specified Perils. If so, you have a smaller deductible and your vehicle will be repaired. If you did not buy physical damage coverage then you have to pay out-of-pocket to repair your vehicle.

If you have the SEF 20 Loss of Use coverage then you would also present a claim for renting a vehicle while yours is awaiting repair. At the time of a large hail storm and widespread losses this could be a very useful coverage.

If it was an older vehicle or trailer and the damage was tremendous you might end up with the insurer wanting to pay out the claim rather then repair. Often the insurance company will pay you directly on a hail claim. It is up to you to get the repairs done if this is the case. Until you do so, and provide proof, the insurance company will not pay out further hail claims. The value of the unit drops by the amount that was paid out. So if your truck or trailer is worth $20,000 and you accept a hail pay out of $5,000 now your unit's maximum value in the eyes of the insurance company is $15,000. You prove repair by providing receipts or some other evidence acceptable to the insurer.

There is nothing to stop you from having the repairs done and then selling the unit. There is no obligation on your part to keep ownership once the vehicle or trailer is fully restored. If you chose to take the payout and then sell the damaged trailer that is also allowed.

Hail damage to landscaping

Hail damage to your garden and plants is not covered by insurance. So you have to manage your own risk. About the only way to protect tender plants from the impact of hail is to shelter the plants. Keeping some large plastic pots available that you can quickly put over top of the plants will help. These pots have to be sturdy enough not to blow away if there is high wind with the hail. This will work for as many plants as you have pots.

If you live in an area where hail is a regular occurrence you may consider building a screen that can be pulled over the garden at the first sign of hail. It would be best to use a flexible wire mesh that is capable of being rolled up and stored in between use. The covering of plants with old sheets will not help much in a hail situation. The plants will still be hit hard through the material.

If you are hit by hail then try to baby your damaged plants as they try to recover. Keep the plants covered in all but the best weather for the next week or two. If you do end up losing it all then you will have to replant or wait until next year. Gardening is not for cowards!

Unusual hail claims

A bride who buys wedding insurance would have coverage for the damage done by a hailstorm to her outdoor wedding. An outdoor concert that is canceled due to hail could have ticket sales coverage. You need to talk to your insurance broker or agent to see if your special event could be insured for hail or other serious weather conditions.