Common Damage Hail CausesForecasting hailstorms is challenging, and they can occur almost anytime, anywhere in the country, with little warning. Hail pellets are harder, heavier, and more destructive than raindrops and snowflakes. Even if a single hailstone isn't much to worry about, a storm of hail pelting down can ruin properties within minutes. Let's explore some common property damage that hail causes:
- Roof damage: Most rooftops hold up to smaller hailstones relatively well, but as the size of hail increases, the serious roof damage risk increases, too. Hail can ruin roof shingles, shatter skylights, and destroy solar panels. Metal roofs are especially susceptible to damage from even light hailstorms, which can leave behind countless little dings and dents.
- Vehicle damage: Vehicles with no protection from the elements are extremely vulnerable to hail damage. Hailstorms can dent car roofs, scratch paint, and damage external mirrors and lights. Larger pellets of hail can even smash through vehicle windows or windshields, which may lead to additional damage from water intrusion.
- Siding damage: When hailstones fall from the sky at certain angles, they could collide with the siding on the exterior of a property. Hail can leave dents and scrapes in metal siding and sometimes gouges divots in wood siding. Hailstones can also completely destroy siding made from less-durable materials, such as vinyl.
- Landscaping damage: Heavy hailstorms can ruin lawns, landscaping, and vegetation outside. Hailstones can shred delicate leaves and flower petals, knock branches loose, and even rip apart the bark on branches.
Filing a Hail Damage Insurance ClaimIf a hailstorm damaged your property, you could face hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs, replacements, or restoration costs. However, most property insurance policies, including auto insurance policies, cover hail damage costs. So, when the system works as intended, you should be able to file a claim with your insurance provider and obtain compensation for your losses. Many policyholders learn the hard way that claiming insurance benefits is rarely a smooth process. Insurance companies that prioritize profits over customer satisfaction minimize and deny legitimate claims due to minor discrepancies or honest mistakes. As a policyholder, you should understand the entire insurance claims process to avoid minor errors that could derail your claim. Below, we've explained the insurance claims process from start to finish. Here's what to do and what you can expect if you need to file a hail-related property damage claim.
- Inform the insurance company: First, notify your insurance provider of the hail damage. Most auto and property insurance policies require you to promptly inform the insurance company of covered losses. Your policy might have a specific deadline, so check it closely to ensure you don't miss any requirements for your claim. If you fail to notify the insurance company within the requisite time limit, the company might have a legal reason to deny your claim in part or completely. It is essential to report damage to any providers who may be responsible for it, even if you are unsure whether they will cover anything. Also, report hail damage to the owner, landlord, or manager of any property you rent or lease.
- Look through your policy: Next, you should obtain copies of any insurance policies that may apply to your situation and review them thoroughly. Some policies may require you to complete certain steps as you initiate, file, and resolve your claim, and the policy language will clearly outline them. If you have trouble deciphering dense or complicated provisions in your policy, take it to a trusted property damage attorney who can look it over with you. Your lawyer can help you identify important filing requirements and avoid common pitfalls that could damage your claim. Your repairs could cost less than the total amount of your deductible. Many homeowner's insurance policies have a one percent or two percent deductible. When you get estimates for the damage repair, determine whether they are less than the deductible before you send in your claim.
- Complete emergency repairs: Many hailstorms leave behind little more than cosmetic damage, but larger hailstones can easily punch through rooftops, destroy fencing, and cause other serious damage. If hail has rendered your property unsafe, uninhabitable, or vulnerable to additional damage, you can and should take steps to mitigate your losses. Insurance companies commonly require policyholders to take reasonable measures to address covered losses that might contribute to even more damage. If you fail to comply with such requirements, the insurance company may refuse to cover the preventable damage or deny your entire claim outright. Don't try to make the emergency repairs yourself unless you're a professional with the expertise to fix the damaged area. Better to leave the repairs to others than to risk accidentally rendering your insurance policy invalid.
- Take stock of the hail damage: Before you can recover compensation, you will need to know what type of damage occurred so you can include it in your claim. You should thoroughly examine any hail-damaged property, including your roof, windows, siding, vehicles, and exterior structures. If the hail entered your home or vehicle and caused water damage, check that out, too. Write down all the damage you see in a comprehensive list or spreadsheet inventory. Take photos or video footage of the damage, too. Once satisfied that you have documented the hail damage fully, place all your evidence together in one location for safekeeping.
- Fill out necessary claim forms: Now that you know what to include in your hail damage claim, you should prepare the paperwork for your claim next. Many insurance providers ask claimants to complete Sworn Proof of Loss (SPOL) forms. These affidavits detail the property damage's extent and nature. And if hail damage affected your commercial property, you may need to fill out non-standard paperwork to seek compensation for covered business losses. If you feel uncertain about the paperwork or documentation necessary for your hail damage insurance claim, a property damage lawyer can help you prepare and submit everything you need
- Cooperate with the adjuster: When you file your claim, the insurance company will promptly assign an adjuster to investigate and handle the case. The insurance adjuster will examine your property damage, assess the evidence you presented with your claim, and determine whether the insurance company is responsible for payment. Some insurance adjusters could come to your property in person to look over the damage firsthand, so be ready to grant access to your property as necessary. Remember that the insurance adjuster works for your provider, so no matter how friendly they seem, they are not there just to help out. They will look for any reason to save the company money, so watch what you say whenever you interact with an adjuster.
- Get estimates for repair costs: Once an insurance adjuster has had the opportunity to assess the hail damage, they will need to know any repair costs the insurance company might have to pay. Most adjusters expect you to provide at least two different repair estimates before they agree to pay, so you should contact qualified professionals who can offer quotes for their work. Many repair contractors happily provide estimates at no or little charge. If the insurance adjuster decides they disagree with the quotes you provide, they may choose a preferred contractor of their own to conduct an independent appraisal. Remember that you may need to pay for certain repairs upfront and then seek reimbursement from your provider afterward, so take care to save all receipts for submission with your claim.
- Negotiate a claim settlement: Many repair companies and independent contractors bill insurance providers themselves after they finish repairs, in which case property owners need not worry about settling their claims. But if you need to pay repair providers directly or seek compensation for other losses, preparing a claim for reimbursement may be necessary. Sometimes the insurance company will agree to cover the claim in full, and you can accept the money with minimal fuss. In other cases, the provider may dispute your claim, which means you'll have to negotiate to maximize your settlement. A property damage attorney can communicate on your behalf at every stage of your hail damage claim, including by negotiating aggressively during settlement talks.
- File a property damage lawsuit: Most insurance claims end in settlement agreements, so chances are good that yours will, too. However, if the insurance company denies your claim and will not budge, your lawyer may recommend taking them to court. As your attorney and the insurance company's counsel prep for trial, they will continue to work toward a settlement. Most cases settle out-of-court well before the court's verdict, but it still pays to have a dedicated lawyer prepared to pursue your lawsuit to the end, if necessary.
How Can a Hail Damage Lawyer Help Me?When you're already concerned about hail damage repair costs, it can be tempting to forgo the expense of hiring an attorney. However, tackling a hail damage claim on your own could cost you much more than legal fees in the long run. Let's explore some of the many ways a skilled and experienced hail damage attorney can help with your claim:
- Evaluating auto insurance policies and any other policies that insure your residential or commercial property against hail damage
- Helping you understand the full extent of the coverage available to you and the types of property damage for which you can seek compensation
- Examining the hail damage to gather valuable supporting evidence for your claim and determining whether the insurance company is liable for repairs
- Interacting with repair contractors, property appraisers, and other experts to determine the immediate and long-term hail damage cost
- Obtaining copies of insurance policies, damage reports, repair estimates, financial records, and other hard-to-get documentation for your claim
- Handling critical documents, details, and deadlines for the hail damage claim
- Communicating with the insurance company, property owners, corporate attorneys, and other parties of interest on your behalf
- Preparing and submitting claim paperwork and supporting documentation
- Negotiating forcefully to maximize the value of your claim settlement
- Taking your case to court and representing you at trial, if necessary