Hail Damage Claims
Hail storms can cause a lot of damage to both buildings and cars. Millions of people across the country are affected by damage from hail storms every year. That damage can cost property owners thousands of dollars. Hail damage should be covered under most standard insurance policies. However, insurance companies are businesses and may be more interested in profit than in paying what is needed to repair the damaged property.
Although hail storms are most common in Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado (this region is called Hail Valley), hail storms can strike anywhere. Even southern states like Florida and Georgia are not immune. Anyone could experience damage from hail no matter where they live or own property. Hail damage is actually one of the most common reasons for claims on homeowners’ insurance. Up to 70 percent of claims made are because of hail damage.
If your property has been damaged by hail and your insurance company has denied your claim, Farah & Farah can help. You may have a legal claim against the insurance company. Don’t wait to contact us for a free consultation. You pay nothing unless your case is successful.
What Is Hail?
Hail is precipitation made up of balls of ice. The ice forms when water droplets in the upper atmosphere freeze together during thunderstorms. Hail is kept in the clouds as it forms due to updrafts in the storm clouds. It falls to the ground once it is heavy enough to overcome the updraft. Winds in the storm can also blow hail at an angle, or even horizontally.
Hail can vary in size. In the United States, the average size of hail ranges from about an inch to the size of a golf ball but can get much larger than that. The largest recorded hailstone was 8 inches in diameter. Anything larger than 0.8 inches is large enough to cause damage. This means that the average size of hail in the US could cause damage. Hailstorms have caused millions of dollars in total damage when they strike and can even be deadly.
What Damage Can Hail Cause?
Depending on its size and speed and angle of the storm’s winds, hail can cause a lot of damage. This damage can occur to any property that is open to the weather. This can include any building and vehicles that are not protected by a garage.
Damage to Cars
Hail damage to cars can include:
- Dents in the body of the car
- Broken windshield
- Broken windows
- Damaged engine
Damage to Buildings
Hail damage to homes and other buildings can include:
- Broken windows
- Dents on a metal roof
- Missing or damaged shingles
- Damaged siding
- Peeling paint
- Exposed and rotting wood
- Damaged air conditioner
- Damaged chimneys and flue vents
How Can I Protect My Property from Hail?
There are some steps that can be taken to protect property from hail. These mostly involved ensuring that the property is in good repair to begin with. Make sure that regular maintenance is done and replace anything, especially a roof, that needs to be replaced. Hail will cause more damage to property that isn’t well-maintained.
Does My Insurance Policy Cover Hail?
Whether or not hail damage is covered depends on the insurance company and the policy. Typically, hail damage is covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies under Coverage A, or dwelling coverage. You’ll have to check your individual policy to ensure that it covers all areas of your property, including detached structures such as sheds or a garage. In addition to thoroughly reading your policy, you can also contact your insurance company and ask them what hail coverage your current policy has.
Dwelling Coverage (Coverage A)
Dwelling Coverage, which is also called Coverage A, is the part of your homeowners’ insurance policy that handles any rebuilding or repair to your home that is necessary because of perils such as wind, hail, storms, and more. Hail is usually one of the perils included in a standard Coverage A policy. You should, however, check the amount your policy covers. It should be enough to cover the entire value of your home in the event something happens to cause a total loss.
There is a type of special hail-specific insurance, but it’s typically only purchased by farmers. Called crop-hail insurance, this special insurance covers damage done to crops by hail.
Your insurance policy may have a deductible in place for certain types of damage, including hail. If this is the case for your insurance, there will be a specific dollar amount that you will have to spend on repairs before your insurance company would start to pay anything.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?
If you have auto liability insurance only, then your insurance may not cover hail damage to a vehicle. Comprehensive insurance policies typically do cover hail damage. However, whether or not hail damage is covered may depend on the exact policy and the insurance company that you have. It’s recommended to thoroughly read through your policy so you know exactly what is covered.
How Do I Make a Hail Damage Claim?
If your home has been damaged by hail, it’s important to first make a claim to your insurance company before taking any legal action. It’s important for the claim to be done correctly on your end. You don’t want to give the insurance company any reason to deny the claim.
Assess the Damage
The first step in making a claim is to assess the damage. Inspect your property and look for anything that was broken or damaged. Look for broken windows, damaged siding, damage to your roof, and even look at your air conditioner. Inspect anything that is open to the outside, including any decks, sheds, and garages that are on your property.
It may be more difficult to thoroughly assess the damage to your roof, but you can hire a professional to look at it even before you contact your insurance company. Many roofing companies may actually offer inspections for free, hoping that you will return to them for the actual roofing repairs.
Photograph the Damage
As you assess the damage done by the hail, it’s important to collect photographic proof. Take pictures of everything you can. You’ll want to have proof that the damage occurred, especially before repairs have begun.
Have the Damage Professionally Inspected
If you’re making an insurance claim, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to assess the damage. However, their assessment may be biased in favor of the insurance company. Having an independent inspector come out and assess the damage to your property can give you a better idea of the real cost of the damage. A professional not affiliated with the insurance company can help you avoid struggling with a claim smaller than what is actually needed.
Plus, hailstorms don’t always cause damage that needs repairs. If the damage is cosmetic only, then you may be advised to not bother making a claim at all. Insurance companies don’t always cover cosmetic damage and a professional may advise you to wait to make any repairs.
It may be a good idea to have the professional at your home at the same time as the insurance adjuster. That way, they can point out the damage to the adjuster so you can be sure that it won’t be missed.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Ideally, you should already know what your insurance policy covers, but after a hailstorm is a good opportunity to review. You should know whether or not your insurance company will cover everything that was damaged or if there are any restrictions. Some insurance policies won’t cover what they consider to be cosmetic damage. Some may have a deductible that you have to meet before your insurance company will pay anything.
Notify Your Insurance Company
If there is damage that needs to be repaired, the next step is to actually make the claim. It’s a good idea to make the claim as soon as possible. Hail can cause roof leaks that, if left unrepaired, can cause devastating damage to the inside of your home. If your air conditioner was damaged and even if it’s in usable condition, continued use may damage it more or mean that it needs to be replaced entirely. Other damage can get worse over time and cause more damage elsewhere to your property if it’s not addressed promptly.
Your insurance company will not pay for damage caused by a delay in repair. They would only pay what they have determined is the value of the actual damage caused by what your policy covers, within the limits of your policy and after any deductibles.
Keep Maintenance Records
As repairs are made, keep full records of everything that was done. This will be important if your insurance company is reimbursing you for out-of-pocket costs rather than providing you with the money upfront. If you have a deductible, you’ll need records of what you’ve paid so you have proof that you have met the deductible.
What Is Florida’s Valued Policy Law?
In Florida, the Valued Policy Law states that if a building is damaged to a state of total loss and the damage was partly caused by a peril covered by an insurance policy and partly by a peril that wasn’t covered, the insurance company would still be responsible for all of the damage up to the limit of the policy. Partial loss is only applicable under Florida’s VPL if it’s related to a fire.
In the case of a hailstorm, the damage would have to be so severe that the building was ordered condemned. For example, if an insurance policy covered hail damage but not wind damage and the damage that caused the total loss was determined to be a percentage caused by hail and a percentage caused by wind, the insurance company may still be liable for the total value of the policy, even if only part of the damage was caused by the covered peril.
Why Was My Hail Damage Claim Denied?
First and foremost, insurance companies are businesses. This means that they’re looking to make a profit, which means they’ll be looking for opportunities to deny claims so that they don’t have to pay. An insurance company may have a very good reason to deny a claim, but often denials can be made in bad faith as the insurance company tries to get out of paying for the damage.
In order to fight a claim denial, it’s important to first understand exactly why your claim was denied in the first place.
Disagreement About Cause of Damage
If your insurance policy covers hail damage, the insurance company may try to claim that it was caused instead by a peril that isn’t covered under your policy. This would eliminate their responsibility to pay for the damage. It’s for this reason that it’s important to have your home professionally inspected, to keep all documentation, and to photograph all damage. You’ll want to be able to prove that the damage was indeed caused by hail and not by wear and tear.
Failure to Meet Conditions
Another reason the insurance company could deny your claim is that you did not file properly or you didn’t meet all of the conditions for the claim. It’s important to be familiar with all of the terms of your policy and what the requirements are for making a claim. This can help you avoid giving your insurance company an excuse to deny your claim based on a failure to meet policy or claim requirements.
Difference in Valuation
Even if your insurance company doesn’t deny your claim, you may not receive as much as the damage actually cost. This may be due to a deductible built into your policy, but it also may be because of a difference in the valuation of the damage. This is where bringing in an independent professional inspector can benefit you. Anyone brought in by the insurance company to inspect the damage could be biased in favor of the insurance company and value the damage lower than it really is.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If your property has been damaged by hail and your insurance company has denied your claim or has not paid enough according to the value of the policy and the cost of the damage, you may have a case. An experienced attorney such as those at Farah & Farah can help you understand exactly what your insurance policy is supposed to cover and whether your insurance company made a denial of your claim in bad faith.
Our legal team is comprised of expert lawyers experienced in insurance law. We can help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation. You won’t pay a cent unless your case is successful.