Your Home Has Been Hit By Severe Hail: Now What?
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
While predicting when and exactly where severe hail strikes may be difficult, one thing is certain here in Central Texas — it's not "if" but "when" it will affect your home. In fact, the odds of you experiencing severe hail at least once within the last 5-6 years is pretty high. Texas Storm or "Hail" Season has been mostly defined as March through August with most of the action occurring in March-May. Texas has a unique climate. Warm and moist air funnels northward from the Gulf of Mexico and is often met with cooler dry air from the north. This mixture causes extreme volatile weather patterns that result in wildly severe weather.
Severe thunderstorms are part of life here, especially during the Spring & early Summer months. These thunderstorms are often very fast-moving systems packed with lightning, thunder, lashing winds up to 40-60mph, torrential downpours and severe to catastrophic hail. They can also spawn tornados. This occurs weekly or biweekly during this time of year. It's safe to say that every single one of them have the potential to pelt your house with ice rocks at up to 75-85mph. The I-35 Corridor from San Antonio to Dallas/FortWorth alone experience 12+ recorded 12 hailstorms in 2021 to varying degrees. Hail storms are not uncommon outside of Storm Season, with events occurring in Fall & Winter as well.
So, what do you do if hail hits your home?
Well, first, don't panic. Usually, a hailstorm doesn't result in taking immediate action. If you can record the hailstones that landed in your yard, it's always helpful to submit a clear photo with a tape measure or another circular item for size comparison to share with local news outlets or on social media. This may also be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Once the storm has passed, be sure to walk around your home and record, with photos or videos, the documented damages you can see from the ground. Gutters, shutters, doors, windows, garage doors, mailbox as well as grills, patio furniture and other personal items need to be accounted for.
Here's a help size comparison chart to help you determine the severity of hailstones.
Pea to Nickel-sized hail isn't considered severe and is consider to be less than one inch in diameter or smaller than a quarter. Anything larger than that, wreaks havoc on most asphalt shingled roofs. Sizes ranging from pea to egg (2") are very common here in Central Texas. .
There are many factors that play into how your roof is effected by hail. Obviously, the size of the stone matters but your roof's overall age and condition plays the biggest part. The older the asphalt shingle, the more likely it is to sustain more severe damage compared to a newer roof. Most asphalt shingles installed in Texas are not impact-resistant. That means even a one-day-old asphalt shingled roof could be completely destroyed by two inch hail or larger.
The frequency of strikes, hardness of the hailstone, pitch of the roof, the direction the storm is traveling and the positioning of your home in relation to the storm's path also play a part in how severe hail damages a roof. Hail can also be pretty spotty. One side of a neighborhood sustain severe damages while the other side may not at all. It's the luck of the draw.
When severe hail strikes your home's roof, two inch hailstones and larger can loosen or remove the shingle's protective rock granules and bruise the fiberglass matting of the shingle. Sizes larger than two inches can hit shingles so hard that they actually puncture the shingles. Over time, this can cause a leak and not just in this spot, but in hundreds of spots on your roof. Once this has occurred, the shingles begin to deteriorate rapidly due to the loss of granules and can cause major problems down the road.
So, what's next?
Once you've documented damages for your own records, it's best to contact a local and reputable roofing contractor to schedule a roof inspection. These inspections are usually free of charge. It is of the utmost importance that you do a little research in determining what company to have come out and inspect your roof. Make sure they're local (within 25-30 miles) to where you live. This matters because if there's ever an issue in the future, they're there to honor their work and can respond quickly.
Be prepared to be bombarded with an endless onslaught of roofers that come knocking at your door. Some of them are national outfits with multiple offices in multiple regions in the state and beyond. Some may be local or semi-local there to get in on the action, others are storm chasers. Storm chasers come from all over the nation to jump in, undercut local and reputable companies with cheap prices, poor workmanship and crummy products. They often reel you in by cutting out your deductible and signing a contingency agreement locking you in if they file the claim for you with no agreed scope of work or set price.
Do not sign a contingency agreement.
These agreements often serve as vague contracts without an amount, often doesn't specify products or work to be performed and gives them permission to supplement unreasonable amounts of money from your insurance company without performing that work. Under no circumstances should you allow a random stranger into your home or onto your roof without verifying identification, who he or she is with, where they are from and whether or not they are insured.
While cutting out your deductible seems like an attractive deal, first, and most importantly, it is illegal in the State of Texas to waive deductibles. It is insurance fraud. Secondly, all you're really doing is shooting yourself in the foot. That deductible is part of the claim amount and that claim amount is designed to have built-in overhead and profit built into it for your contractor. When this gets waived,
What else gets cut? Quality shingles and components, built-in upgrades, code upgrades, system warranties, a full roof tear-off down to the wood decking and job site management that ensures a proper installation.
Now, that contractor has to cut corners to make the profit that was built into the claim. On top of that, they're going to supplement thousands of dollars to your insurance company to cover work not performed to make up for that deductible. If that roofing company is from out of state or town, the likelihood of getting them back to correct issues are very slim. They change their numbers and move on to the next big hailstorm. We get about 50 calls a year to inspect the work of fly-by-night storm chasers and the results are maddening, considering what they we're paid to do the job. One common denominator is that the deductible was either reduced or waived completely.
Hiring a local a reputable roofing company will come with lots of perks. They're insured, come with manufacturer certifications, offer both workmanship and manufacture warranties and they're familiar with the homes in the area. They often also abide by local codes, permitting and have the best installation practices for those homes. Many are active in their communities and their reputation matters so they're more inclined to provide the best experience all the way around. Their websites should be active, navigable and provide plenty of resources. A quick internet search will provide ratings, reviews and enough information to help you determine whether or not they're a great fit. Remember, you only need one inspection.
Once your roofing contractor is onsite (hopefully on time) for an inspection, he or she will walk around the home and document damages to gutters, windows and so on with photos. He or she will then continue to the roof. On the roof, their main objective is to determine the severity and frequency of the strikes on all elevations the roof and gutters for damage and document damages with photos. Your roof inspector should also be checking for other maintenance issues and potential problems like rotting wood and make you aware of them.
By the end of the inspection, he or she will either meet with you to discuss the damages, share photos and videos in-person or email his notes and photos and give advice on the next step which is usually to file an insurance claim. If onsite, it is okay to allow the roofing contractor to help you with this process. He or she will be able to assist in sharing vital information that the insurance company needs to file an accurate claim. Again, if the roofing contractor offers free inspections, do not sign a contingency agreement locking you into a roof replacement without receiving your insurance paperwork first. This is pushy sales tactic.
Upon filing an insurance claim, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to inspect the roof. His or her job is to document all damages for the insurance claim, get measurements for the roof and account for all the components necessary for a roof replacement. It isn't necessary for your roofing contractor to be present when the insurance adjuster is inspecting the roof but may be helpful in ensuring everything is accounted for. Ultimately, your insurance company makes the determination on whether or not there is enough severe damage to cover the cost of roof replacement. Gutters, and other exterior items like garage doors, windows, interior damages, screens may also be included in the claim.
Your insurance company may ask you to collect three quotes in the meantime. It is quite okay to do this but at the end of the day, you just need one. All three should be from reputable local contractors. It is important that you aren't specifically looking for the lowest price. Yes, you want the work to fall with in the claim amount but not cheaper. A cheaper bid than the insurance claim amount will result in the claim being deducted once a certificate of completion or invoice is submitted to the insurance company. On paper, this appears as if your deductible was reduced or either waived. If bids are significantly more than the insurance claim amount, that's okay, that amount would need to be reviewed and approved if upgrades are not part of those bids.
Ideally, you want a trusted roofing contractor to perform work as it pertains to the insurance paperwork and for that amount down to the penny. If there are missing components in the claim that should be covered by your insurance company, those items can be supplemented for that amount if it is necessary for full replacement. Things like additional layers of underlayment removal, additional steep charges, dump fees, code upgrades and so on can be supplemented if need be.
It is okay to share your insurance paperwork with your roofing contractor. Doing so allows he or she to comb through the claim to ensure nothing is missing. They'll be able to determine if certain upgrades can be worked into your claim if it is sufficient for doing so. This should not be expected. Upgrades are not covered in your claim. Any amount exceeding the claim amount that is a result of upgraded roofing components are the responsibility of the homeowner, as is the deductible. Upgrades can include, architectural shingles, impact-resistant shingles, synthetic underlayment, ice & water shield, upgraded ventilation and so on. Many of these components are needed to fulfill the requirements of the manufacturer's system warranty and always a great idea to consider them when collecting quotes.
At the end of the day, you want a reputable local roofing contractor who is going to provide the best products and workmanship within the claim amount. He or she should be accurate and transparent and should educate you on the entire insurance process, how payments are made, what's covered and what's not and what type of roofing system you will be receiving. It is very important that contracts should precisely notate the items listed in the claim paperwork as well as what type of products are included in the price. All estimates should include material, labor, clean-up & haul-away and warranties. A signed contract protects both you and the contractor and all terms should be agreed to before any money is exchanged or work has begun - no exceptions.
Brands, components & warranties matter. Local code upgrades matter. Following the roof installation, your contractor will submit the certificate of completion directly to your insurance company for approval to release the second of two checks to close the claim out. They will call to confirm this work is complete and satisfactory before the final payment will be issued directly to you.
How do insurance payments work?
Insurance paperwork can be confusing for many homeowners. Most don't understand the verbage, what is being covered or what's being paid out. Your roofing contractor should be able to breakdown the claim in a manner that is easy for you to understand. It is very important you know how to understand the claim, the process as a whole and how it affects you're home and policy.
Your insurance adjuster can also help answer any questions you may have regarding the claim paperwork.
Typically, if you have full coverage on your home, the insurance issues two payments. The first, called the ACV or Actual Cash Value. This is the value of the roof in its current state and condition which includes the most recent damages. If your roof is 5-years-old or less, this payment will be the majority of the claim. Newer roofs are depreciated less because of this. Even though it's been damaged by hail, it's still worth more than a 20-year-old roof with hail damage. If your roof is much older, it has depreciated more meaning the ACV will be much less. All roofs are depreciated but the insurance company and that recoverable depreciation is accounted for on the back end of the claim and paid out once the roof replacement is complete.
'Recoverable' is the key word here. Because you have full coverage, your insurance company is paying the ACV and Recoverable Depreciation upon completion. Your deductible is subtracted from the the Replacement Cost Value, leaving these two amounts as payments to you. It is important to remember that just because your deductible has been subtracted from the claim does not mean you paid it. The total Replacement Cost Value or RCV is the total claim amount including the deductible. This is the amount that needs to be fulfilled and is what your contract with your roofing contractor should reflect. Again, this does not include upgrades, additional work, etc..
Here's an example:
$10,000.00 - Replacement Cost Value (the total cost of roof replacement issued by insurance)
$2,000.00 - Deductible (you're responsible for paying this amount to the contractor)
$4,000.00 - Actual Cash Value (upfront payment to you from insurance )
$4,000.00 - Recoverable Depreciation (payed by insurance once work is completed)
In total, your insurance company is paying out a total of $8,000.00 in two payments, the AVC & Recoverable Depreciation. You're responsible for paying your $2,000.00 Deductible to the contractor to complete the $10,000.00 Replacement Cost Value. ACV policies only pay out the Actual Cash Value, leaving the deductible and recoverable depreciation for the insured to make up for. Waving a $2,000.00 deductible out of a $10,000.00 roof replacement will result in substandard workmanship, products and service. That's a very large portion of overhead and profit from what that roofing contractor should be earning on a job of this size. Again, don't shoot yourself in the foot thinking you're getting a great deal. This practice is against the law in Texas.
Upfront payments or deposits are not uncommon and sometimes necessary. They should NEVER be mandatory. If you're working with a local and reputable roofing contractor with a great track record and you feel comfortable in releasing either your deductible, first insurance check amount or both to them upfront to apply to your account, that is okay. Again, and we cannot stress this enough, if web searches do not produce sufficient evidence that you're dealing with a local, reputable and insured roofing contractor or you have uneasy feelings about it, DO NOT DO IT.
Do not be scammed by fly-by-night roofers pretending to be local. They'll often create company names similar to professional nearby companies to cause confusion. It's easy to get a local number, slam a magnet on the truck and make business cards. Do your research. If they claim a large deposit is mandatory, run the other way. If their company isn't financially stable to purchase $10,000 in material for your job, run the other way.
However, during storm season, all great roofing contractors are in high demand. They become very busy and backlogged and positive money flow can be slowed down due to the insurance payment process. Most insurance claims take time to payout, especially on the final payment. This can pinch even the best roofing companies during this hectic time. Deposits can be a good thing as they often secure your products for installation. If your contractor asks about paying a deposit, it should not be mandatory and he or she should set clear instructions on a payment structure and exceptions in regards to the insurance claim. If you do decide to pay a deposit, make sure it gets immediately applied to your account and you receive an updated invoice for that payment promptly.
What kind of products should I be looking into?
Any Class 4 impact-resistant roof upgrades should be reported to your insurance company as those upgrades can result in insurance discounts and deductions. Class 4 impact-resistant products aren't always brought up by your roofing contractor. After all, that's why he or she is there in the first place. It is always in the best interest of the homeowner to do their due diligence is researching roofing products. In a place like Texas, which files the most hail claims year after year than any other state, does it make sense to install a standard 3-tab or architectural shingle that provides no protection against hail? After all, you just paid a $5,000 deductible to replace your roof. What are you REALLY getting for that?
So, why aren't Class 4 roofing systems offered?
Because, although your local and reputable roofing contractor is going to do a great job replacing your roof and helping you through your insurance claim, he or she wants to be in business for a long, long time. This means, that if you receive another shingle that's substandard in protection against hail, you're going to be right back where you started within a few years... maybe sooner — filing an insurance claim for roof replacement. And again, you'll pay out your deductible to receive yet another standard product because you weren't made aware of better products.
With the severity and frequency of severe to catastrophic hail being a real possibility multiple times a year, it makes the most sense to upgrade your roof to a Class 4 product which will provide much more protection against weather events like these. All Class 4 products are not created equally and many far surpass the bare minimum to achieve that rating. Yes, these products are much more expensive but so is your deductible if you're not getting anything out of it. Image continuing to spend thousands of dollars every other year to replace your roof unexpectedly just to receive the same substandard products. This can all be avoided by choosing the right contractor whose got your best interest at heart.
So, just to quickly recap:
Document damages following a hailstorm for your own records. (Do not climb on your roof.) Hire a local, reputable & insured roofing contractor to inspect the roof for hail damage.
Once damage is confirmed, file an insurance claim with your insurance company.
Avoid out-of-town and -state door knocking storm chasers and contingency agreements.
Ensure your contractor can fully educate you on the insurance & roof installation process.
Share your insurance claim paperwork with your roofing contractor for a detailed review. Research roofing shingles and components and best practices for your region. Ask your contractor.
Work closely with your roofing contractor in finding the best roofing products for your home.
Ensure your contract with your roofing contractor is detailed and reflects the insurance claim.
Ensure the roofing contractor fulfills the scope of work to a high standard.
Allow the roofing contractor to finish the job and submit all necessary documents to insurance.
If after your experience you are satisfied with the contractor, refer them to your neighbors!
Leave positive online ratings and reviews for the contractor to help others in your community!
Most roofs in Texas are replaced through insurance due to hail damage. Understanding how all this works can be confusing and at times, a little overwhelming. We hope this lengthy post was helpful and informative. If you live in the Austin metro and your home has been affected by severe hail, feel free to contact us for a complementary roof inspection, insurance consultation or second opinion regarding an inspection or claim. We're here to answer your questions and come time, install a beautiful new roof that will last.