The sound of hail pounding on your roof is enough to wake you from a sound sleep. And when the storm clouds clear, you may find what homeowners dread: roof damage. Hailstorms can strike almost anywhere, but they are most prevalent in certain parts of the country.
Most homeowners policies cover roof damage caused by hail along with related water damage to your home’s structure or contents. But you can’t take your coverage for granted. Before disaster strikes, you need to know if your home insurance policy will cover a hail-damaged roof, under what circumstances it won’t provide coverage, and your poicy's coverage limits.
- Hail damage is created when hail dents cracks, splits, or makes holes in a roof.
- Most homeowners policies cover hail damage up to a certain dollar limit.
- Hail damage may not be covered if the roof required repairs before the hail event.
- Notify your insurer as soon as you realize your roof has suffered damage from hail.
What Is Hail Damage?
Hail damage to your roof can take several different forms depending on the type of roof your home has.
- Asphalt shingle or composite shingle: Round, dark impact marks may appear with few granules. The damaged shingles may feel soft, and you may notice exposed felt.
- Wood shingles: You may see dents and splits in the wood, with noticeable brown or orange spots inside the splits.
- Metal: Roof panels, gutters, and vents may display dents.
Inspect your roof regularly, particularly following a hailstorm.
What Are the Hazards of Hail Damage to Roofs?
A damaged roof can allow water to leak into underlying materials affecting roofing plywood and insulation. Water can seep into ceilings and walls, damaging paint and sheetrock. Unchecked leaks can lead to mold and mildew, which can spread beyond structural materials to clothing and furniture. Water-damaged structural elements, such as ceiling joists and wall studs, may rot, causing a ceiling to collapse.
Water can also seep into your home’s electrical components, like ceiling fans, lights, and wall sockets, causing electrical damage that may create a fire hazard.
Sudden, unexpected hailstorms can occur almost anywhere, but they’re most prevalent in Great Plains and Midwest states.
How To Prevent Hail Damage
- Install a new roof when recommended. Replacing a roof that's too far gone can create a hazard for workers, which could lead to a lawsuit. Before hiring a contractor, make sure your home insurance policy has sufficient liability coverage.
- Install storm shutters on doors and windows.
- Replace your roof with hail-resistant materials such as Class 4 shingles, coated metals, or synthetic slate.
- Replace old roof fixtures such as skylights and vents, which can easily sustain hail damage and lead to leaks.
Is Hail Damage to Your Roof Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
The most common type of home insurance for owner-occupied houses is called an HO-3. Typically, HO-3 policies cover damage caused by hail. Usually, homeowners policies pay replacement costs for dwelling losses. For example, if your roof is destroyed in a hailstorm and costs $20,000 to replace, your policy will pay up to $20,000, minus your deductible, for the repair.
Some home insurance policies may limit roof replacement claims. For instance, if your policy places limits on cosmetic damages, it may only pay to replace damaged roof shingles, which may not match the rest of the roof. In states prone to hailstorms, homeowners policies may also feature a separate deductible for perils such as hail or wind.
For homes with older roofs, insurers sometimes limit roof coverage to actual cash value, which will apply a depreciated value paid for damages.
When Is Hail Damaged Not Covered?
While a roof may appear hail damaged, another culprit may be to blame, particularly neglect. Sunlight and harsh weather can make shingles brittle, making them appear damaged. Or the shingles may begin to blister, crack, or show signs of granule loss due to age. These types of damages are considered normal wear and tear, which insurers typically don’t cover.
If hail damages an old roof that should have already been replaced, an insurance adjuster may deny a claim. However, if hail damages your roof and causes water damage inside your home, your policy may cover interior structural and contents losses.
Insurance companies usually deny claims on houses that have been vacant for more than 60 days. Some carriers may discontinue coverage of a vacant home, while others may continue limited coverage for specific perils. However, some insurers offer vacant home insurance, which may cover hail and wind damage.
You can’t file a roof claim if the damage is less than your policy’s deductible. For example, if your policy has a $1,000 deductible, you can’t file a $500 roof claim. Homes in high-risk areas may have a separate hail deductible. So if your hail damage deductible is $2,000, you can only file a claim when damages exceed $2,000.
How To File a Hail Damage Insurance Claim
The claims filing process can vary by insurance provider. But in all cases, you need to file a claim promptly and supply sufficient documentation to verify the damage.
Review Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
It’s best to know what your home insurance policy does and doesn’t cover before you need to file a claim. When a hailstorm strikes, review the fine print of your policy’s coverages and exclusions. Coverages A and B cover losses to your home’s main structure and attached structures—like a garage—and coverage C covers personal property such as furniture and clothing.
The fine print of your homeowners policy may instruct you to contact the insurer or its agent promptly after damage occurs. If you’re unsure how quickly you must file, ask a company representative if a time limit applies. You should also file a claim promptly to avoid undue additional damage. Damaged roof materials can degrade further, so it’s important for an adjuster to examine the damage when it is fresh.
Assess the Damage
If you are unsure if your roof has sustained enough damage to file a claim, you might need to hire a contractor to assess the losses. Depending on your policy’s deductible, excessive granule loss on shingles, dents to metal roof panels and gutters, and cracked or dented skylights and vents often indicate a valid claim.
Take pictures or videos of all damages. Oftentimes, roof damage can cause leaks that ruin interior floors and furnishings. In your claim, include all damages to your home’s structure and its contents.
You may need to take immediate steps to prevent further damage. For example, cover a damaged section of roof to prevent rainwater from entering your home. Also, throw away soaked items such as carpeting, which can cause a mold hazard. Always take these preventative steps before an adjuster arrives to inspect the damages.
Get an Estimate
Some insurers assign a claims handler or insurance adjuster to home insurance claims. Typically, the representative will assess the damages and give you an estimate of repair costs. If the insurer requires you to get an estimate, you may need to choose a contractor from the company’s approved vendor list. Always choose a licensed contractor to assess damages.
Keep Track of the Claim
After filing a claim, you need to stay involved until it’s paid and your home is restored. Maintain regular contact with the insurance adjuster and contractor. Take notes every time you speak with an insurance representative. If you don’t understand something about the process, get answers from the insurance company. Save receipts for damage-related expenses, for which the insurer may offer reimbursement. Continue to inspect your home for subsequent damage, such as leaks or mold caused by the initial hail damage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is hail damage to the roof covered by homeowners insurance?
Most home insurance policies cover hail damage. If you have an older roof, the insurer may only pay actual cash value, which applies depreciation, to a repair or replacement payout.
Do all homeowners insurance policies cover hail damage?
HO-3 home insurance policies are the most common on the market. HO-3 policies cover all perils unless those perils are specifically excluded. However, insurers will not cover damages caused by normal wear and tear. And if your roof needed replacing before the hail damage occurred, your carrier may refuse to repair or replace it.
How do I start the hail damage insurance claims process?
Each insurance provider has its own claims filing process. Before filing a claim, assess the damage, looking for patterned granule loss on asphalt or composite shingles, or dents on metal roofs, gutters, skylights, and roof vents. If the roof has sustained enough damage to warrant a claim, file it.
Is there a time limit to make a hail damage insurance claim?
Claims filing time limits can vary by insurer. Your policy’s fine print may instruct you to file promptly or specify a specific time limit. It’s best to contact your insurer immediately and get the claims process started because roof hail damage can lead to leaks that can destroy your home’s structure and, in some cases, its contents.