What to Know Beforehand and Afterwards
As we mentioned in our prior post, hail storms can do a lot of damage to personal property like your home and automobile. Through some simple planning, you can make sure that you’re better prepared should your home be caught in an unexpected storm.
What You Can do Right Now
Take some pictures of your roof as it is now. You’ll want to plan ahead to be consistent about photographing the same 3 to 4 sections of your roof over time. Be sure to digitally date the photos and keep them printed out in your files and stored digitally on an external hard drive.
Contact your insurance company and find out how many “impacts per square” constitutes hail damage under your homeowner policy. Generally, it’s between 5-10 impacts per square. Keep this information, along with the contact person’s details with your homeowner policy.
Hail Storms that Don’t Leave Visible Damage
If your roof goes through a moderate hail storm and you don’t see any damage that’s visible to the naked eye, take photos anyway. Also take and date photos of the actual hail from that storm. Keep a file or an Excel spreadsheet that tracks rainfall afterward. occasionally check your gutters (and photograph them) to stay on top of roof shingle grit deterioration, a key sign that there was damage from the hail storm.
Revisit the roof every few months and take more photos of the same locations. Again, look for signs of shingle grit in your gutters; does it seem like its greater in some locations and not others? Start checking for signs of exposed asphalt in your roof (that used to be covered by shingle grit). If the signs of damage are there, you’ll likely notice them after 4-6 months. At this point, you may want to contact your insurance company. They may be very surprised you’ve kept such good records!
Visible Gutter Damage after a Hail Storm
If the damage is pronounced right at the time of the storm, again, take and date pictures of the actual hail from the event for your records. You may want to ask your insurance company to send out an adjuster to review the damage. An adjuster is going to do something similar to what you’ve done – photo several sections of the roof typically in a few 5 foot by 5 foot sections (this is the “square” that you asked your insurance company about in your preventative stage) and look for the amount of hail damage in that space. Based upon the number of impacts, you may qualify to have your roof replaced under your homeowner policy. If you can show before pictures to the adjuster, you may help set a reference point, again furthering your claim.
Hail storms often results in crushed gutters. If you have a gutter protection system, odds are that it’ll sustain damage, too. Hail can come down with such tremendous force, it can actually punch a hole right through your gutter, meaning it, too, will have to be replaced.
If have to replace your gutter guard, it’s a great opportunity to look at the latest advancements and not just replace it with the same product you had in the past. You’ll likely find lots of debris in the gutter, choose a system that will keep out even the shingle grit going forward.
If You Have to Choose a Contractor
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as “free” roof or gutter replacement. Look to deal with a reputable licensed contractor (if licenses are required), one that has had an ongoing presence in your market. Too often, disreputable companies sweep into markets that have sustained hail damage, tackling entire streets of damage at one time, only to leave homeowners unhappy with the results of the repairs. Keep in mind that you won’t want to wait too long before contacting someone or their work load could be backed up for months, particularly if many homes have sustained damage.
Products are Designed to be Impact Resistant
Certain products like roof shingles, both composite and metal, and some vinyl siding have been rated for impact from falling objects including hail. To find these products, you’ll have to go to a specialty supply house in your area, not a big box store. By doing your homework, you can specify to your contractor the exact product you’d like them to install.