Is Hail Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers claims for hail damage that directly or indirectly compromises your home's structure. It won't cover cosmetic damage and non-structural hail claims.
Your roof, for example, is the backbone of your home's structure. Missing or damaged shingles, a damaged chimney, compromised vents, punctures and any gaps between the roof and the roofline will invite the elements to seep in, causing leaks and water damage, rotting wood, ruining insulation, potentially sabotaging major systems and, finally, jeopardizing your home's overall structural integrity.
Keep in mind that your home insurance may not honor or will only partially honor a hail-related claim if a home's roof or siding was sorely neglected and already in poor condition before the hail event.
How Does Hail Damage Insurance Work?
A standard homeowners insurance policy offers four kind of coverage to protect the policyholder from sudden, unexpected losses associated with four areas of risk:
Dwelling coverage, which pays for damage to the interior and exterior of your home's structure, including the foundation and the roof. This component of your home insurance also pays for your house to be completely rebuilt after a disaster.
Personal property coverage, which reimburses you for your personal belongings when they have been damaged, destroyed or stolen
Loss-of-use coverage, which pays for your living expenses when you are forced to evacuate your home due to a peril that your home policy recognizes
Liability coverage, which covers the bodily injury and property damage a visitor incurs while on your property
The dwelling component of your homeowners policy covers the damage that results from hail and wind-related loss events. You can also extend your dwelling insurance to include a higher payout for hail damage. While not all home insurance companies offer this additional coverage, a hail-related "endorsement" will provide a higher level of protection than your policy stipulates.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hail Damage?
Homeowners insurance covers serious hail-related damage—in other words, damage that directly or indirectly threatens your home's structure. For instance, if your roof starts to leak after a hail event, your dwelling coverage will pay to have that sudden, unforeseen leak fixed. These are some common examples of covered hail damage:
- Missing or damaged shingles
- Damaged chimney
- Compromised vents
- Gaps between the roof and the roofline
What Doesn't Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Cosmetic damage, or damage that does not threaten your home's structure.
Pre-existing damage, such as shingles that have worn out over time or shingles that were defective even before they were installed.
Earthquake damage, which is not covered by a standard homeowners policy. As with floods or landslides, earthquake damage is covered by a stand-alone insurance product that you purchase separately from your standard policy. However, home insurance does cover some natural disasters.
Vehicle damage, which is covered by car insurance, not home insurance. If you live in a hail-prone area, you might consider getting comprehensive car insurance. Called "add-on" insurance because no state requires it by law, comprehensive coverage pays out when your vehicle is hit by an object, such as a hailstone.
Poor maintenance, such as a roof that was already in poor condition before the hail event took place.
The savvy homeowner schedules routine roof inspections and takes steps to fix even the smallest problems before they cause any further damage. For example, homeowners should fix any leaks, no matter how small, as soon as possible.
What's the Average Insurance Payout for a Hail-Damaged Roof?
From 2015-2019, the average payout for hail-and-wind claims was almost $11,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). According to 2020 data from home insurer State Farm, the carrier's average compensation for a hail-related claim was nearly $12,000 (hail-related vehicle claims averaged more than $4,300 each).
Hail-related insurance compensation depends upon the extent of the damage as well as the cost to repair or replace a house's hail-damaged components. This price tag includes materials and labor costs, which are both subject to market forces such as availability and general inflation. Also, an insurance claim payout depends upon a home policy's dwelling coverage limits.
Hail-and-Wind Homeowners Policy Deductibles
A deductible is an agreed-upon amount a policyholder must pay for a loss before the policyholder's insurer will initiate compensation for a covered claim. It is important to remember that a deductible must be paid for every claim that initiates a claims process. However, the more you agree to pay for your deductible, the less your overall premium payments will be.
Homeowners insurance deductibles are typically $500, $1,000 or $1,500. However, home insurers in hail-prone areas often charge a special hail-and-wind deductible, a separate charge that is higher than a policy's flat deductible.
The hail-and-wind deductible is usually calculated as a percentage of the dwelling coverage's maximum dollar-amount payout, according to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI). For example, if you have $325,000 in dwelling coverage with a 2% hail deductible, your hail-and-wind deductible would be $6,500.
Generally speaking, a hail-and-wind deductible is applied in states that have a disproportionate number of hail events, such as the Atlantic and Gulf states. Further, a hail deductible may be instituted based on a roof's age and condition.
Types of Roof Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance typically covers roof damage that is caused by hail, fire and the weight of sleet and snow. In the event of hail damage, your insurer may pay to have part of the roof restored or the entire roof replaced. For example, an insurer may decide to have your roof entirely replaced if the appropriate materials cannot be found to match the old roof's materials. Or, they may pay part of the claim if the roof was in disrepair before the hail damage. In the end, an insurance adjuster will determine how the hail event has affected your home's condition.
Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value
If you have an old roof or a roof that's in poor condition, an insurance payout based on your roof's actual cash value may not give you enough money to replace your roof, which means you would have to pay out of pocket to make up the difference between the claim payout and the cost of a new roof.
If you have a new roof or a roof that is in good condition, you can probably insure the roof for its replacement cost value. This level of coverage will replace your roof, even if the cost of materials and labor has risen due to low availability or inflation.
How To File a Hail Damage Roof Insurance Claim
To ensure appropriate reimbursement in a timely manner, the smart policyholder needs to be organized by gathering photographs of all damage, all estimates, receipts, correspondence and other documents related to the claim.
To file a home insurance roof claim, you can call, go online or use your carrier's smartphone app. The information you provide will be incorporated into a "loss notice," which is the document that starts the claims process. You will be asked to submit documents and photos related to the damage.
Next, your home insurer will dispatch an insurance adjuster to investigate the legitimacy and accuracy of your claim and whether your policy covers the loss and, if so, for how much. If your claim is successful, you will receive two checks: The first check will be a down payment on the full settlement. Later, you will receive a second check for the balance of the claim.
If indirect damage later results from the same hail event that prompted the initial claim, you can file for an additional amount on the same claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). That's good news, because if you had to file another, separate claim to pay for the additional damage, you would have to pay another deductible.
Tips for Filing a Roof Claim
To determine whether you ought to file a claim, you should thoroughly examine your home, outbuildings and other property to determine the extent of the damage, if any, after a hail event.
It is important to keep in mind that not all losses merit a claim in the first place. If you have a $1,000 deductible on your home insurance but repair costs are estimated at only $650, it would not make economic sense to file a claim.
Document the hail damage with pictures. Of course, your claim may be strengthened if you provide your home insurer with before and after photos.
Don't wait to file your claim. "Most policies require claims to be filed within one year from the date of disaster," notes the III, so "check with your state insurance department for the laws that apply to your area."
How To Get a Roof Repair Estimate ASAP
Many roofing contractors offer free inspections and estimates. The contractor can give you a professional assessment of the damage and a cost estimate on repairs or replacement, helping you decide whether filing a claim is worthwhile. To find a reputable roofing contractor, go to the Better Business Bureau website.
The longer you wait to fix punctures, gaps and leaks, the more the damage will be exacerbated. For example,"hail stones, even as small as a nickel, can cause severe bruising and granule loss [of shingles] that will dramatically reduce the lifespan of your roof," according to Bensalem, Pa.-based Approved Contractors.
Also, check out these tips from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety's DisasterSafety.com website.
How To Deal with an Insurance Adjuster for Hail Damage Claims
An insurance adjuster may offer you a one-time, lump-sum payment, but you are not under any obligation to accept the offer.
If you dispute the adjuster's assessment of the cause or extent of the damage, you can hire a public adjuster to inspect the damage and give an independent report. A public adjuster advocates for your interests, not the insurance company's.
Will My Premiums Go Up After I File a Claim?
Filing a hail-related claim will not necessarily raise your home insurance rate. For one thing, a hail storm is never caused by any carelessness on your part. Further, if you are in an hail-prone area and paying a special hail deductible, you are already paying a higher cost for your home insurance.
However, your insurance rate may go up based on the number of previous claims you have filed. If you have filed more than one claim in the past three years, you may see an uptick in your rate. Finally, if your adjuster in the course of their hail-damage investigation notes that your roof or your house is poorly maintained, you may see a rate hike. Here are some tips for dealing with insurance companies.
Hail Damage To a Condo, Co-op or Townhouse
If you live in a condo, a co-op or townhouse, your homeowners association's policy (HOA) should cover the detrimental effects of a hail event; however, if the damage is extreme, your homeowner's association may levy a special fee to cover extensive emergency repairs that your HOA won't cover. However, condo, co-op and townhouse owners can mitigate this risk by purchasing "loss assessment" insurance coverage, which protects against a high fee.
U.S. Hail Stats
Hail not only results in direct damage to roofs, vents, chimneys, sky lights, siding and outbuildings, it also invites indirect damage, causing wind-driven rain, sleet and snow to enter a home through gaps.
The following chart represents the top-10 states for hail claims filed in 2019, according to the III:
Number of 2019 Claims
Find the Home Insurance That's Right for You
Homeowners insurance covers hail damage when that damage threatens the integrity of your home's structure. Your home insurance policy may pay to have the damage fixed at a fraction of what it would cost you on your own.
When filing a hail claim, it is important to document the extent of hail damage with photographs. While an insurance adjuster inspects and assesses the damage for the insurance carrier, you can also hire a public adjuster for a second opinion.
If you live in a hail-prone area, consider purchasing a special endorsement to cover severe hail storm damage. In fact, let SmartFinancial compare rates for homeowners insurance in your area and match you with the best insurer that fits your budget and needs. For a free home insurance quote, enter your zip code below and answer a few questions.