While forest fires and hurricanes tend to steal the spotlight when it comes to nature’s threat to your home, hail is a risk that can strike nearly any region at any time. The process through which hail is created mirrors the complex nature of the damage it causes. Hail is essentially a sphere of icy properties that gets shaken up through a volatile trip through varying temperatures. The ending point of aggression? Your home. And so, your journey has just begun as you find yourself in the wake of an insidious saga of gradual deterioration. Fortunately, because hail is considered to be an “act of god,” like lightning or an earthquake, its damage is generally covered under homeowners insurance.
Even if you don’t spot a leak in your roof immediately after a hail storm, that doesn’t mean that a leak won’t occur down the road. As a rule, you should have your roof inspected post-storm no matter what symptoms it may or may not be exhibiting. First, survey the scene yourself. Take pictures of individual pieces of hail next to a ruler or tape measure. While it’s not advised to go scaling your roof, take photos of accessible damage, such as broken windows or dented air conditioning units. Arrange a visit from a roofing inspector, but do your research. Suspect contractors may trick you into signing a contingency agreement under the guise of it being a basic report. If you are being pressured to commit to a document via signature, or to pay for a report that was advertised as being free, have a lawyer review the fine print.
Once you have made your claim, an insurance adjuster will come out and inspect your home. A thorough inspection will include counting the number of hits per shingle to calculate an average. Pictures should also be taken with the goal of documenting shingle bruisers or tears. Once you have estimates from both your roofer and adjuster, make comparisons. If there are major discrepancies, it may be time to a consult with a lawyer to make sure that you are receiving the compensation that you are owed. A roofing expert will be able to vouch for the fact that the damage didn’t exist prior to the storm, which a lawyer can present as evidence if your insurer pushes the issue. Sometimes, even the mere presence of legal counsel can prevent an insurer from asserting that damage has a source other than the storm in question.
Because hail will impact different roofing materials and infrastructure to different degrees, many houses that have been hit by the same hail storm will produce claims with widely varying results. Wood shingles can split in half, and the thicker the asphalt, the more it will cost to repair. These variations can be frustrating when someone from down the street who was subject to the same hailstorm receives substantially more repair funds. But, if you live in, say, a planned development where nearly all roofs are of the same material and age, then it may be worth speaking to a lawyer who can advocate for additional compensation if you’re feeling like your neighbor made off with the long end of the stick. While a hailstorm may leave you feeling pummeled, the right team of lawyers and inspectors can help mitigate its casualties.