What factors can change the extent of hail damage on neighboring homes?

As the end of summer is approaching, now is a good time to revisit the phenomenon of hail and the possible damage it can do. As the National Severe Storms Laboratory indicates, hail is a form of precipitation consisting of solid ice that forms inside thunderstorm updrafts. Hail can damage aircraft, many structures, automobiles, and can be deadly to livestock and people.

Unfortunately, as many of you may be aware, a home’s roof is oftentimes susceptible to hail impacts. Of course, damage is possible to windows, siding, decks, fencing, landscaping, air conditioners, garage doors, gutters, and downspouts – all depending on the size of the hailstones and direction of the storm. Roof engineering studies have shown that it typically takes hail at least one and one-quarter inches or larger to cause damage to a sound asphalt roofing system. When hail claims are reported to insurance companies, an inspection is usually required to confirm the presence and extent of hail damage for payment of the claim. On occasion, the adjuster or appraiser inspecting your property may report to you they did not find evidence of hail damage. You may ask how can that be when your neighbor next door was told he or she had hail damage requiring their roof to be replaced?

There are several factors that can lead to why one home may have evidence of hail damage and a home next door does not. Some of these factors may include:

The direction a house faces related to the direction of the storm. Roof slopes that directly face the oncoming hail are more susceptible to damage as the hail will strike those areas straight on as opposed to glancing hits on the opposite or adjacent roof slopes. It is not uncommon for one slope of a roof to have hail damage and the opposite slope to not have damage.

The steeper the slopes of a roof, the less susceptible they may be to hail damage because the hailstones strike at a less direct angle than on those roofs that are not as steep. The composition, quality, and age of shingles play a significant role in whether a roof sustains hail damage. A heavier shingle will withstand hail much better than a lighter shingle. Also, a newer shingle will resist hail damage much better than a shingle that is aged and already showing signs of deterioration.
Trees can play a significant role in shielding a roof from hail damage. Large mature trees in close proximity to a home that provide shade to the home can also prevent or lessen the impact of hailstones striking your roof.

You may also want to verify that your neighbor’s insurance carrier actually had someone properly qualified in hail damage assessment inspect their roof to identify hail damage as opposed to paying a claim based only on reports of hail in the area or a report of hail damage by a roofing contractor canvassing the area for business following a hailstorm.

Finally, you need to ensure those that inspect your roof and indicate you have hail damage actually know what hail damage looks like. They should be able to differentiate hail damage from other common types of roof damage such as natural shingle aging and deterioration, nail pops, manufacturing defects such as blistering and excessive granule loss, and mechanical damage from hammers, shoes, tree limbs, and the like.

Hail storms are becoming more common, but a storm doesn’t necessarily mean you will have damage to your property. Hail can strike anywhere at any time. It’s important to be prepared and to know your insurance policy regarding coverage to respond to hail damage. That means making sure that your roof is in good condition and talking to your insurance professional if you have any questions about your homeowners insurance policy.

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