If you’re at home and witness a hail storm, the first thing to do is make a note of the date and time of the storm and begin the process of filing a hail damage claim. Our agency keeps records of any substantial wind and hail storms in our area so if you forget, we may be able to help you establish the correct date and time.
Hail Damage Checklist
Once you’ve taken note of the date and time of the hail storm, you’ll need to complete a few more tasks in order to ensure proper coverage. Once the storm has subsided, you’ll want to take photos of the following:
- The size of the hailstones. Use any object as a point of reference or better yet use a tape measure or ruler.
- Look for any immediate leaks inside of your home.
- Take photos of any hail damage that is immediately apparent. Such as damage to gutters, exterior siding, roof flashing, etc.
- Check for damage to your air conditioner.
- Hail damage to your roof in the form of torn shingles, missing shingles or dented shingles.
- Broken windows.
- Hail damage usually causes severe damage to your trees, shrubs and the plants in your yard.
- Damage to your car
If there’s readily apparent hail damage to your home make any emergency repairs first. You have the authority to make those repairs in order to mitigate any further damage. Make sure to temporarily cover any broken windows and utilize tarps to cover any leaks in your roof.
You’ll also want to have your roof examined by a reputable roofing contractor. The roof inspection and estimate for repair should be free. Beware of signing anything that will obligate you to pay for any services.
Contact your agent and file a claim with your insurance company. Your agent will set up a hail damage claim file that contains the claim number, the name of the claims adjuster assigned to your claim, and any contact information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses that will be helpful throughout the claim process.
After you submit your claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to determine the extent of the damage. It’s common practice for your adjuster to meet with the roofing contractor in order to accurately assess the damage.
What Are The Time Limits For Filing A Hail Damage Claim?
We’ve noticed an uptick recently with insurance companies denying hail claims because they were not reported in a timely fashion. The issue of timeliness is addressed in a section of the homeowners’ policy entitled Duties After a Loss. When checking with the individual companies that we represent, we were surprised at how vague the various clauses were written and the disparity in stated time limits to report a claim.
There Are Several Reasons That Property Owners Might Hesitate To File An Insurance Claim.
- Concern about a loss causing an increase in their insurance rates or possible cancellation.
- Confusion about who is responsible for filing the claim.
- The consideration that it might be cheaper to make the repairs yourself.
- Don’t understand the policy term limits or the claims process.
Recommendations For Filing Your Claim
The Insurance Information Institute, III, and most insurance companies recommend that you file a claim as soon as possible if you suspect there may be hail damage. If a policyholder does not file their claim in a timely manner, they run the risk of having their claim denied by their insurer.
Most insurance policies require filing a claim within one year after determining your home has sustained wind/hail damage. However, not all policies are the same. It is important to thoroughly read your policy and know exactly what your duties are after a loss. As an independent insurance agency, we represent several different companies. A quick check revealed that most companies require filing a claim within a one-year time limit. There are, however, companies that have time limits as low as 180 days or as high as a full two years.
We recommend that you contact your agent if there is the slightest chance that you may have sustained wind/hail damage. We keep track of all of the local storms, dates, and severity. We’ll help you decide how and when to turn in a hail damage claim.