This week, Palm Beach County experienced a severe thunderstorm with up to an inch of penny-sized hail. With winds starting at 25 mph at the beginning of the storm, it was noted that some gusts of wind got up to 71 mph before the storm finished. Such strong winds have the ability to move smaller objects and bring down limbs of trees. The hail rained down from Palm Beach Gardens to Riviera Beach and The Acreage. Overall, the areas experienced power outages, trees down, and damaged wires. In today's climate, a hailstorm is just another solid reason to make sure you have the insurance you need and that you understand the policies you sign. If you experienced any damage from this storm, it's time to get a good lawyer on your side to help you comb through your policy to make sure you are truly getting the coverage you deserve.
How Serious is Hail Damage?
Hail can be very dangerous because it is nearly impossible to anticipate its size before the storm. Hail is created when water droplets freeze together within storm clouds. Once they become too heavy to be carried within the cloud, they fall to the ground in clumps. Those clumps tend to range from 5 millimeters to 15 millimeters in size. The most common types of hail damage result in cracks to glass windows or dents to roofs or cars.
How Common is Hail Damage to Roofs?
Hail damage to roofs is very common in Florida. To anticipate what kind of damage your roof sustained, try to find an example of the size of hail your home endured. Most roofing contractors can associate a level of damage with the size of the hail, and this provides a good starting point for their evaluation of the roof damage.
A Common Sizing Guide for Hail Damage:
- Less than 1inches (coin size)
- Asphalt roofing is possible
- Damage can be more difficult to see
- May require a trained roofing inspector
- 1-2 inches (coin to egg size)
- Damage obvious to asphalt shingles
- Damage obvious to soft metals
- More than 2 inches: (anything larger than an egg)
- Definite damage to asphalt roof
- Contact a roofing contractor for inspection
- Contact your insurance company immediately
How Common is Hail Damage to Cars?
Hail damage to cars is going to be just as common as it is to roofs. Hail will leave little dents, at best, in the exterior of your vehicle. If this happens to you, immediately take photos of the damage. You need to document this as soon as possible because it strengthens the seriousness of your insurance claim. This is generally considered part of your policy's post-loss conditions, so do not waste time in doing so.
What Can I do to Ensure My Insurance Pays for the Damage Repairs?
1. Document all of the damage
Take photographs from all angles. Consider taking pictures every few days in case the damage progresses over time (i.e. extended cracks in windows).
2. Read your insurance policy very carefully
Your policy may have a separate deductible for hail damage entirely. This deductible is usually a portion of your property's dwelling limit. You should be able to adjust this deductible amount at any time to fit your needs.
3. Contact your insurance company
Most companies and policies require this to be done within a certain period of time. Be mindful of this time period and stick to it.
4. Hire your own contractor or specialist to inspect the damage
The insurance company will send out their own adjuster to inspect the damage. However, some companies will try to cover the bare minimum or claim that your damage is due to something from before the storm. Having another contractor's opinion will help you decide if legal action needs to be taken.
5. Take Steps to Protect Your Home
Just like keeping a security system in your home can lower your home insurance, taking the initiative to protect things like your roof before a storm can help mitigate the cost of the damage. Some companies offer discounts for policyholders who stormproof their homes with impact-resistant shingles or other stronger materials.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you have experienced hail damage of any kind, definitely contact a lawyer to help you go over your policy line by line to ensure you understand what kind of coverage you are owed. Your insurance company may try certain tactics to avoid holding up their end of the contract. For example, if you have suffered roof damage, the insurance company may only agree to pay for a portion of the roof while Florida's Building Code requires the entire roof to be replaced if 25% or more of the roof suffered damage. To avoid getting the short end of the stick with your insurance policy, call a trusted lawyer at Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh today to start examining the details of your policy.