I have seen a lot of hail storms in Austin, Texas. In fact, it is my number one reason why I will always want a garage! If you have lived here for a while, you know that the storms in Texas come fast and furious, and can leave behind costly hail damage. Within minutes, the temperature can change rapidly. I keep saying that this is because Texas is pretty flat, but I have yet to verify that.
The intensity of the thunderstorms we get here surprises many of my out of town friends and clients. Unfortunately, for us, car owners and homeowners, Texas had the most hail damage of any state last year. And hail causes about $1 billion dollars in damage to property and crops each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This cost will grow as houses increase in size and become closer together. This means damages to more houses by fewer storms.
When drops of water freeze together in the cold upper regions of thunderstorm clouds, they form hailstones, which are chunks of ice. Most hailstones measure between 5 millimeters and 15 centimeters in diameter, and can be round or jagged. Certain atmospheric conditions form hailstones that are denser than others. To learn more about hail basics, visit The National Severe Storms Laboratory.
We have recently had a hail storm by my neighborhood in 78704 with hailstones as large as 2 inches. It is the first time I see hailstones that large. My roof is now 20 years old and, for Texas, that’s towards the end of its useful life.
Below is what I’ve learned about hail damage and roof replacement.
1. factors that cause hail damage to your roof
The size of hailstones
Any type of hail can potentially cause damage to your property, but typically, 1-inch or larger stones have a greater negative impact on single layer roofing systems. Unfortunately, most hailstones don’t have smooth edges and this further impacts the level of damage they cause. Also, roofs with multiple layers of shingles may face greater problems from smaller hailstones since they usually have a softer support area underneath the top layer, allowing the tiny stones to penetrate the surface.
The speed, intensity, and direction of the wind during a hail storm can also affect the severity and location of the hailstones.
The type of roof material
Different roofing materials hold up to hail differently. Asphalt is the most common (shingles), but cedar shake, metal, and ceramic tile shingles are also popular. In the case of asphalt shingles, hail hits can displace granules causing the roof to lose its integrity. Any damage to the shingle itself will cause it to age faster and cause problems down the line.
Also as shingles age, they become less resilient to hail damage. Older roofs may also have slight damage from the previous years that hail can further aggravate.
2. How to tell if you got hail damage
Any roofing shingles on the ground is a definite sign of roof damage. Some other obvious signs are broken tree limbs or dents on cars left outside (though they typically can be damaged by smaller hail sizes that don’t affect shingles). Also, if you see any dents, cracks, or holes in the siding, windows, doors, AC condenser, or outdoor furniture.
On the roof, the largest indicator of damage is missing and/or loose shingles. If shingles are flapping in the wind, they’re considered loose. Also, you may see cracks or hail hits on shingles where the granules were dispersed.
3. What to do if you suspect hail damage
If you suspect hail damage, you can have a roofer inspect your roof for confirmation. Most contractors will offer to do the inspection for free, since for them it could lead to further business. They’ll walk your roof to see what damage they can spot and can provide an estimate for repair or replacement.
The integrity of the shingles might be compromised even if only a few granules are knocked off the rooftop, which means a water leak might develop over time. Many insurance companies will require a certain amount or rate of hail damage; for example, 8 plus “hits” or damage spots on the roof with a 10-foot by 10-foot square area on at least three separate spots on the roof in order to cover the costs of a new roof.
Having an idea of what kind of damage you have and work needed will help you determine if you want to place an insurance claim. You should check your insurance policy and see what deductible amount you have. If it is worthy (e.g. repairs are higher than your deductible), call your insurance company and place a claim.
4. WHAT happens when you place an insurance claim
I was excited to learn that in Texas, the majority of the insurance companies will not increase your premiums for claims regarding hail or wind damage. This applies to both homestead and rental properties, so check with your insurance agent before placing a claim.
The insurance company will send an inspector who will look at the roof and provide an estimate for the repair/replacement. In my case, I have Safeco as my insurance provider and I need a new roof. Thus, the adjuster will provide me with an estimate of the roof replacement, “the budget.” This amount is supposedly conservatively high. They will also calculate the current value of my roof as is today (e.g. depreciating the value of a new roof based on how old the roof is now), subtract my deductible, and provide an initial check for that amount. So, for example, if it costs $8,000 to replace it (the budget) but it is only worth $3,000 as is today (after depreciating it to the age of the roof) and my deductible is $2,000, then I will get an initial check for $1,000.
Then, I will work with a roofer to replace the roof keeping in mind the budget. The insurance company will not provide any amount that is not used in the replacement of the roof, so there is no incentive to get a lower cost replacement. However, if you are getting quotes that are higher than what the insurance adjuster estimated, you can ask the insurance company to review and recalculate.
Once I have replaced the roof, I can send them the receipt and get the rest of the cost of replacement, minus my deductible. So, at the end, the cost of replacing the roof is the amount of my deductible, but since I will have a new roof, my monthly premiums will decrease. Per my insurance agent, this reduction in my case is of about $300/month. So, I will break even in less than a year.