Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

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Depending on where you live, homeowners insurance will usually cover hail damage to your roof and other parts of your home. But hail is more frequent in certain areas of the country, and insurance policies in those regions are more likely to include restrictions to their hail damage coverage. Whether or not you live in a region that's at risk, hail storms can happen almost anywhere, and determining exactly how much damage a hail storm has done to your home can be difficult. If your home is impacted by a hail storm, you should hire professional help to independently assess damage before filing a claim with your insurer.

How Do I Know If My Homeowners Insurance Covers Hail Damage?

Homeowners insurance in most regions covers hail damage to the structure of your home. However, in areas where hail storms occur more frequently, insurers are more likely to limit their hail coverage or increase the cost of their policies to reflect the higher risk. If you're located in a state or region where a higher percentage of properties are affected by hail, then check your policy for restrictions.

For example, hail damage has been especially frequent in Kansas and Oklahoma in recent years. If you live in these states, limitations to your policy could include exceptions for "cosmetic" damage or higher deductibles specifically for hail. So you may need to pay for more of the damage out of pocket. If you're in a vulnerable region, we recommend you talk with your insurer about purchasing additional coverage specifically for wind and hail if it isn't included in the standard policy.

Does My Location Make Me Vulnerable to Hail Damage?

The area in the U.S. most traditionally vulnerable to hail damage is called "hail alley." It's located approximately where the borders of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming meet. However, in recent years, damaging hail storms have become more frequent in other parts of the country. A report by Verisk estimated the number and proportion of properties in each state to experience one or more damaging hail events within a one-year period. The following table shows the top 10 by total properties affected.

RankStateProperties affectedPercentage of properties affected
1Texas1,349,37418%
2Illinois872,08724%
3Missouri832,52546%
4Minnesota737,37544%
5Oklahoma644,80355%
6Kansas513,94157%
7Indiana456,21518%
8Virginia400,52916%
9North Carolina400,24810%
10Colorado374,43522%

Exclusions to Hail Coverage for Cosmetic Damage

An increasing number of homeowners insurance policies, especially in regions disproportionately affected by hail, are incorporating cosmetic exclusions for their hail coverage. Under these policies, if the damage caused by hail is cosmetic, meaning it only affects the aesthetics rather than function of the house, you will not be covered in the event of a claim.

However, the line between cosmetic and functional can be uncertain. For instance, what may begin as minor dents in your roof or siding may eventually evolve into more serious structural damage. In addition, damage that is labeled cosmetic can affect the resale value of the property, requiring homeowners to pay for their own repairs or sell their houses at a discount. Given the growing prevalence of these exclusions, it's important to check your policy for a cosmetic exclusion or limitations related to its hail and wind coverage.

If your homeowners insurance policy has a cosmetic exclusion, you can choose to seek coverage from insurance providers that waive the exclusion or negotiate removing the exclusion in exchange for a higher premium. In the event of a dispute between you and your insurer over whether damage is considered cosmetic or functional, you can hire a public adjuster to investigate the claim. The public adjuster will help determine whether the exclusion should actually apply, although you should note there are fees associated with this process.

Filing an Insurance Claim for Hail Damage to Your Roof and Home

The first step to filing a claim comes before before a hail storm even happens: Document the condition of your home and create an inventory. Using a digital camera or your smartphone, take pictures of your home's roof and exterior, and upload the pictures to your insurer's website. Most insurers have a place for you to do this. After the hail storm, document the damage and the date of the storm. You will ultimately rely on the professional expertise of roofing contractors and insurance adjusters in assessing damage, but documentation could provide valuable proof for your future potential claim.

Before dealing with an insurance adjuster, hire a reputable roofing contractor to inspect the damage. This inspection is a way to get professional advice about the damage, independent of your insurer, and find out whether it is worthy of filing a claim. Filing a claim will go on your insurance record even if it doesn't result in a payment, and it should be avoided if damage is limited or unambiguously cosmetic.

We only recommend you hire of a roofing contractor if it can be done at minimal cost and without a commitment to ultimately hire the contractor. In fact, many contractors will provide this inspection for free as an opportunity to provide business in the future. You can find a legitimate contractor through personal research, such as checking customer feedback or ratings by the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization that vets businesses. If you're in an area recently affected by a hail storm, beware of so-called storm-chasing contractors that may come door to door looking for business. It will be safer for you to solicit an estimate from a contractor you've researched, so you can comfortably incorporate their findings into your claim.

Once a reputable contractor has inspected your home and confirmed notable damage, contact your homeowners insurance company to report the damage and file a claim. Many policies will require you to file a claim within a year of the damage, so you shouldn't wait long to begin the process. Once you file a claim, your insurer will send an adjuster to inspect your home to provide its own estimate of the damage. If the assessment is different from your contractor's, it may be appropriate to arrange for the two parties to meet to discuss the discrepancies.

If you disagree strongly with your insurer's assessment, you could hire a public adjuster to advocate for you. After these precautionary steps, you should be in a position to accept a fair offer on your claim from your insurer.

Checklist: Filing a Claim for Hail Damage

  • Document your home: Take pictures of your home before and after the damage occurs.
  • Get a free inspection: Use a reputable roofing contractor to get independent advice on the extent of the damage.
  • Report notable damage to your insurance company: File the claim promptly to ensure it's made within your policy deadline.
  • Negotiate: Make sure the views of your independent inspection and insurance company are aligned.

Wind and Hail Homeowners Policy Deductibles

The amount your insurer is willing to pay for hail damage will depend on its assessment of the damage and the overall limits of your policy, but there is another cost associated with filing a claim called a deductible. You should be aware that you'll likely have to pay a deductible on any insurance claim made in order to receive coverage for damage to your home.

A deductible is the money you will pay out of pocket for the repairs, with your insurer paying the balance. For example, say you have a $1,000 home insurance deductible and you need to make a $5,000 claim after a hail storm damages the shingles on your roof. You'll pay $1,000 of your own money while the insurer pays the remaining $4,000.

Homeowners insurance policies in higher-risk areas for wind and hail events may have a separate deductible specifically for that peril. This means if the damage is caused by wind or hail, claims will be subject to a separate, typically higher, deductible. These deductibles can come as a flat number, as in the previous example, but they're more likely to be offered as a percentage of your policy's total property coverage.

For instance, if your homeowners insurance policy covers your property for $200,000 with a 1% deductible, you would have to pay $2,000 out of pocket for a claim related to wind or hail damage. It's important to scrutinize your prospective homeowners insurance policy before purchasing to ensure you are getting a policy that fits your risk tolerance for potential hail damage.

Deductible typeTotal property coverageYour payment out of pocket
$1,000 flat deductible$200,000$1,000
1% wind and hail deductible$200,000$2,000

Will Filing a Claim for Hail Damage Increase My Insurance Rates?

Damage to your home caused by hail would fall under what insurance companies refer to as an "act of God." These are unexpected events that the policyholder cannot control or prevent, such as weather. If your home is damaged by a hail storm, your insurer likely won't raise your rates because the damage to your home was not preventable.

This doesn't mean hail storms can't lead to higher premiums for you, albeit indirectly. If the frequency of hail storms where you live increases and your insurer decides that your region has become more susceptible to the phenomenon, it's possible that homeowners insurance rates for the region as a whole will increase.

Fortifying Your Roof to Preclude a Hail Damage Claim

More than any other part of your house, your roof is vulnerable to hail, but you can reinforce your roof to avoid filing a claim with your insurer. For instance, you could install impact-resistant shingles that are less susceptible to hail damage. More robust roofing could be an investment that saves you the time and money associated with filing a claim and making repairs. Additionally, many homeowners insurance policies offer a premium discount for clients who have an impact-resistant roof. Depending on your risk tolerance and the associated costs of installing impact-resistant roofing and your insurance policy, this could be a strategy to consider, particularly if you're in a region with a proclivity for hail storms.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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