Hail Damage: Identifying The Telltale Signs, And Taking Action
This week was a reminder throughout much of the United States that hail season is officially here. If you were fortunate enough to avoid damage from the recent storms, then you may already be taking proper precautions, but it never hurts to have a reminder, especially with how unpredictable Mother Nature has been thus far in 2014.
The first thing you need to understand about hail is that it can be a potentially serious matter. While it often mixes with rain and falls in slight amounts so not to be noticed, some forms of this precipitation can grow to the size of golf balls causing considerable damage to homes, automobiles, and other forms of property.
According to the National Weather Service, hailstones fall to earth from 30,000 feet, reaching up to 120 miles per hour before they hit people, animals, vegetation, vehicles and structures. Each year, the agency states, these storms cause $1 billion in damages to crops and property.
Frequently targeted areas for hailstorms include Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming — together known as “hail alley” because they usually have the most hailstorms on an annual basis, reports the National Severe Storms Laboratory. This activity translates to an average of seven to nine hail days each year.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one day to do a lot of damage, and the phenomenon isn’t confined to these areas. Furthermore, even the smallest of hailstorms “can shatter windows, smash roofs, and leave pockmarks in siding and cause thousands of dollars in damage to your property,” according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
In other words, it’s serious business, and getting these issues taken care of quickly can make a world of difference to your pocketbook and peace of mind.
How To Identify Hail Damage
The Allstate Blog recently posted some guidelines on how homeowners can spot hail damage in the aftermath of a storm. They recommend the following:
- Look for dents, cracks or breaks on windows, screens, doors and even patio furniture.
- Examine outdoor appliances like air conditioning units, and look for dents or excessive water intake.
- Check trees and shrubs; if they’re stripped of foliage, there’s a possibility your roof might be damaged, says the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
- Be safe when checking roof damage; consider using binoculars, or call a professional.
Furthermore, car owners, you should inspect your vehicles for cracked or broken glass, as well as body dents. (Luckily, these require less effort to spot than damage to your house and other property.)
Once you spot damage to any of these objects, you should act immediately. Smartphone devices and apps, such as Evernote, have made it much easier to take pictures of the damage immediately upon discovery and store it away in specific notebooks for easier recall and transmittal to your insurance company. Allstate also recommends that you do so before making any temporary repairs. Furthermore, they advise you to “cover any damaged areas to prevent additional negative effects from the storm.”
“For example, board up any broken windows or cover a hole in a roof with a tarp,” the company added.
Once immediate steps like those above have been taken, you’ll want to call your insurer immediately and get the claims process started. Insurance companies can help you find a reputable contractor and arrange for a quick and convenient time to set the repairs in motion.
“You can also check with friends, family or neighbors for advice on hiring a trustworthy contractor to repair damage,” the company stated. “Just remember to save all the receipts; you’ll likely need them for your insurance claim (and it’s a general best practice, anyway).”
While there isn’t a lot you can do to protect your home from falling hail, you can take precautions with your vehicle. If you have covered parking available to you, use it. If not, try to park in locations that deflect as much of the precipitation as possible.
Old Man Winter may be gone, but the changing temperatures bring with them thunderstorms and the risk of getting hail damage. While you may not be able to stop nature from running its course, you can have a workable plan in place to observe and document damages and send them along to your car insurance company for expedition of claims. Good luck, and be safe!