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Hail Damage To Your Roof and When To Hire A Hail Damage Attorney

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Insurance companies might deny, delay, or offer less than you’re owed for hail-damage roof insurance claims because they know that few homeowners will fight back. This reluctance on the part of “the many” more than offsets the grit of “the few” who resolve to fight for their rights.

In this blog entry, we’ve assembled a list of Q&As as a resource for hailstorm victims who’ve had a hail-damage claim denied, delayed, or underpaid by an insurance company and consequently need the advice of a hail damage attorney to secure just compensation.

We’ve grouped these Q&As into two categories: (A) Technical Questions and (B) Legal Questions.

A. Technical Questions

1. What is hail?

2. What is roof hail damage?

3. How do I know if my roof has hail damage?

4. What are the signs of hail damage to a roof?

5. What kind of obvious damage can hail do to roof shingles?

6. What kind of hidden damage can hail do to roof shingles?

7. What are roofing granules?

8. How can I minimize roof hail damage?

B. Legal Questions

9. What should I do if my hail damage insurance claim is denied?

10. What is bad faith?

11. What are the usual excuses for a hail damage claim being denied?

12. Should I hire my own damage inspector?

13. How much does it cost to dispute a denied hail-damage insurance claim?

1. What is hail?

According to the NSSL, hailstones are formed when thunderstorm updrafts push raindrops into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere and freeze. When they get big enough—and/or when the updrafts weaken—the hailstones fall to earth.

The speed at which hailstones smash into your car, your house, or your body (ouch!) depends on their size, the friction between the hailstone and surrounding air, horizontal and vertical wind conditions, and how much the hailstone might melt as it plummets to earth.

A severe thunderstorm can drop hailstones that are 1.00 to 1.75-inch in diameter, and fall at speeds between 25 to 40 mph. However, some thunderstorms can dump hailstones larger than 4.00 inches—coming at you (and your outdoor treasures) at speeds over 100 mph.

2. What is roof hail damage?

The speed at which hailstones smash into your roof can cause serious damage. Complicating matters, roof hail damage is often imperceptible to the untrained eye. At first glance, everything might look fine after a severe thunderstorm.

But if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll notice that your roof shingles are bruised or cracked, which can lead to interior water damage. (source)

Typically, an insurance company will send a “field adjuster” to your home to assess roof damage. And it’s not unusual for adjusters to look for obvious cosmetic damages—and overlook less-obvious harm.

A thorough inspection requires lifting random shingles to examine their undersides for cracks and looking for damage to the roof underlayment, which is the plastic barrier that stops water from leaking into your home.

As well, the adjuster should check for damage to flashing, roof vents, skylights, gutters, chimney caps, and more. (source)

3. How do I know if my roof has hail damage?

You need to climb up on the roof and look or—better yet—get a roofing professional to do the climbing and look for you because hail damage isn’t always obvious to the untrained eye. Most roofers will inspect the roof for free because if there’s damage, they want the opportunity to bid for the necessary repairs. (Get more than one estimate!)

Another reason to hire a roofing professional: you’re going to need estimates of how much contractors will do the job for compared to what an insurance adjuster might say the job “should” cost.

This is particularly important after a significant hailstorm, as demand will be up, supply will be down, so prices will be abnormally high, and an insurance company shouldn’t drag its feet until prices in your area return to what they think is “normal.” If they do so, they could be guilty of acting in bad faith. (source)

In sum, if the amount of money your insurance company is offering falls short of what’s reasonably necessary to fix your roof, then you need the advice of a hail damage lawyersomeone who’s on your side.

4. What are the signs of hail damage to a roof?

Hail damage to a roof is difficult to spot from the ground and needs to be physically inspected by a person who has training and experience to determine if there’s actual hail damage.

Hail falls in random patterns. Your roof might be damaged while your neighbor’s house is unscathed. So after a hailstorm, you need to look around your property for secondary evidence such as:

  • Plants that are stripped of leaves

  • Cars that have dents

  • Banged-up air conditioner units

  • Damage to patio furniture

5. What kind of obvious damage can hail do to roof shingles?

If you have an asphalt shingle roof, look for the following signs of damage after a hailstorm:

  • Bruises

  • Dislodged protective granules in gutters and downspouts

  • Round black areas

  • Small divots

6. What kind of hidden damage can hail do to roof shingles?

Hidden damage is another reason why you should hire a professional to determine if you have roof hail damage. Crashing hailstones can cause splits in shingles that are only visible from the backside.

An experienced roofer will carefully lift the shingle, examine it, and then—very importantly—see that it reseals. He or she will also check other things for damage. E.g. flashing, roof vents, skylights, gutters, and chimney caps or covers.

7. What are roofing granules?

Asphalt shingles have granules to protect them from the sun’s degrading UV rays. If hail has scrubbed some of these granules from your shingles, not only do they look ugly, they can fail prematurely. You might not have a roof leak now. But you might later—after your insurance company’s claim window has closed. (Source)

8. How can I minimize roof hail damage?

You can minimize damage by making sure your roof is finished with “IR” roofing shingles, officially known as Class 4 impact-resistant roofing shingles. These are designed to endure smashing hailstones better, and they can extend the life of your roof. Also, your insurance company might offer a discount for your having IR roofing shingles instead of less-sturdy ones. (source)

9. What should I do if my hail damage insurance claim is denied?

Find out why. Depending on which state you reside, if a hail-damage roof insurance claim is denied, a written explanation must be provided within a set time (e.g. 15 days). The letter must state the specific reasons for the denial and cite the section of your policy that supports them. If you don't receive a denial letter, insist on one.

Be familiar with your insurance policy. Compare the reason(s) for denial with what’s written in your insurance policy. If what’s there seems ambiguous, vague, or confusing, you should request further clarification in writing from the company and meanwhile get the advice of a hail damage lawyer—someone who’s on your side.

Document everything you can. Start with the date of the storm and details of the damage. Take photos and/or videos. Keep a record of dates, times, and names to document any conversations you’ve had with the insurance company. Keep every piece of paper you get from the insurance company about the hail damage claim denied.

File an appeal. If your hail-damage insurance claim is denied, you can file an appeal. Begin by requesting a re-inspection of the damages. It’s possible that some harm might have been initially overlooked. Have a reputable roof contractor assess the damages alongside the adjuster.

Ask for a resolution date of the appeal. Insurance companies cannot drag their feet if they think the passage of time will “normalize” prices after a storm. If the resolution date passes without a response, you can do one or more of three things:

  1. File a complaint with your state’s Attorney General

  2. Enlist the services of a hail damage attorneysomeone who’s on your side

10. What is bad faith?

“Bad faith” refers to tactics an insurance company might use to avoid its contractual obligations to you. The company might refuse to pay your legitimate claim outright, underpay you, or fail to investigate and/or process your claim within a reasonable amount of time.

Other tactics might include not telling you about policy limitations and exclusions when they sell you the policy, or when they make unreasonable demands upon you for proof of loss. Most states have laws to protect consumers against bad faith on the part of insurance companies (source).

11. What are the usual excuses for a hail damage claim being denied?

Brand image aside, fully satisfying your claim isn’t in the best interest of your insurance company. They have a vested interest in denying your claim altogether, delaying payment for as long as they can, and paying you as little as they can.

Reflecting this, the insurance adjuster who’ll be sent to your home to assess your roof damage might be encouraged to find excuses to deny or diminish your hail-damage insurance claim. Among these:

  • Late filing. Insurance policies stipulate a time “window” in which claims must be filed after the hailstorm. You need to read your policy carefully to know how long you have to make your claim.

  • Late payments. If you make monthly or quarterly payments to your insurance company and you’re in arrears at the time of the hailstorm, it can be used as a reason to deny your claim.

  • Deductibles. One of the most common homeowner policy deductibles is $1000. E.g. if you have $5000 worth of damage, the insurance company will only pay $4000. And if the damage is less than $1000, you’re entitled to nothing. Also bear in mind that homeowner deductibles for wind and hail are often more than $1000.

  • Exclusions. Damage from winds and hail are commonly excluded from homeowner policies, especially those written in coastal states, where extreme natural events such as hurricanes and coastal storms increase actuarial risks for insurance companies. Thus, you might not be protected against hailstorms unless you’ve purchased specific coverage.

  • Alternate attribution. The insurance company claims that another issue caused damage that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. E.g., the natural settling of the house supposedly caused the roof to be less stable and thus more susceptible to hail damage.

12. Should I hire my own damage inspector?

Insurance companies use their own inspectors or hire an “independent” inspector to assess the damage within the first few days after you file a claim.

Although these inspectors are supposedly neutral, over time they can develop a subtle bias toward the insurance company (and against you) in the interest of securing future inspection work. They might minimize total damages, or only consider cosmetic damages while ignoring signs of more significant harm to your home.

Therefore, especially in cases of severe damage, it might be wise to hire your own independent inspector—and retain the services of a hail-damage attorney — someone who’s on your side.

13. How much does it cost to dispute a denied, underpaid or delayed payment hail-damage insurance claim?

Galindo Law doesn’t charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We’re only paid a percentage of the settlement we’re able to secure for you. So by working with Galindo Law, you incur zero financial risk—with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Remember, when it comes to restoring a loss from hail-related damage to your home, you’re not asking for charity. You’ve paid to be insured. You deserve to be adequately compensated for your loss

Or, if you prefer, email us. And thank you for reading our blog!


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