Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Hail Storm
If you’ve ever experienced a severe thunderstorm, you’ve likely been exposed to hail at some point. There isn’t a way to know if hail will fall during a thunderstorm, and once it begins, you often don’t have much time to prevent damage to your car or home.
From 2010 to 2014, wind and hail damage – the most frequent of all homeowners insurance claims – cost an average of $8,041 per claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Keep yourself informed of the potential damage caused by hail storms, and have a plan of action in mind in case you need to file a claim.
States Most Affected By Hail
Although any area in the United States is susceptible to hail, the states that see the most frequent and severe storms are Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming – otherwise known as “hail alley,” according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. In 2015 alone, the total number of major hail events in the United States – storms producing hail of one inch in diameter or larger – totaled 5,411.
Hail, precipitation in the form of frozen ice pellets, can vary from the size of a pea to the size of a volleyball. The largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States was found in South Dakota in 2010, measuring eight inches in diameter and weighing almost two pounds.
Insurance Claims for Hail Damage
Depending on size, hail can pose a severe threat to people, animals, structures and other types of personal property, including automobiles. Although hail has not caused any fatalities in the past five years, it has been attributed to nearly 100 injuries and billions of dollars in damage since 2011, according to the III.
Home Insurance Claims
According to information collected by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and published by the III, hail is considered a catastrophic form of weather, causing roughly $1 billion in damage to property each year. Verisk Insurance Solutions found that from 2000 to 2013, insurance providers paid out nine billion home insurance claims to restore losses from hail storms. The average collective cost of these claims? More than $54 billion.
The most common of all insurance claims resulting from hail storms are damages to roofs, including missing or torn shingles or leaks, which is frequent with asphalt roofs. However, other destruction can occur, such as damage to your outdoor air conditioning unit or the structure of your home.
Auto Insurance Claims
Hailstones can wreak havoc on vehicles, shattering windshields and denting the body of the car.
Since it is damage not involving another vehicle, hail claims are typically covered under comprehensive protection in your auto insurance policy. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, comprehensive claims due to hail totaled $5.37 billion from 2008 through 2014.
If your car is outside during a hail storm, move it to a covered area, if possible, to avoid extensive damage.
What Happens if You Have to File a Claim?
If your home or car is damaged due to a hail storm, contact your auto or home insurance provider immediately. Your insurance agent will likely need to come to the scene of the incident to assess damage. While you’re waiting for your agent to arrive, take photos of the damage to keep for your records. If something requires immediate attention, such as a hole in your roof, it’s okay to cover it up with a tarp to avoid further damage to the interior of your home, but avoid making any permanent fixes.
When hiring for repairs, be wary of dishonest contractors. Occasionally, after an especially damaging storm, scammers can come out of the woodwork posing as contractors in an attempt to take your money. If your home undergoes extensive damage and you need to have your roof replaced, it’s best to get an estimate from more than one contractor before making a decision.
Once you choose a contractor, get everything in writing – cost, work needed and a time schedule – before allowing the contractor to begin work. Finally, the National Insurance Crimes Bureau advises against dealing with contractors independently – make sure all documents and invoices are reviewed by your insurance carrier before being signed.
Protect Your Home and Car with the Right Insurance
Make sure your home and auto insurance policies are up to date and that you’re protected with enough personal property and comprehensive coverage to help pay for losses. It’s always better to have more than enough protection rather than choosing the bare minimum, so talk to your insurance agent. He or she can help you understand how you’ll be protected if you need to file a claim and can help you choose a policy that best suits your needs.
Shelly White writes for SafecoInsurance.com and HomeInsurance.com, an online resource for homeowners and drivers across the country. Offering automobile and home insurance quotes, consumers rely on HomeInsurance.com for competitive rates from top-rated insurance carriers. The HomeInsurance.com blog provides fresh tips and advice on a range of financial topics to help homeowners and homebuyers make educated decisions about their insurance purchases.