Does My Siding Hail Damage Warrant An Insurance Claim?
Apart from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods, the most damaging act of nature a home could endure is a hailstorm. Hail falls like icy bullets from the sky and damages roofs and walls on contact.
When siding has been subjected to a torrent of hailstones, the damage will generally show in the form of tiny indents. On siding made of wood, vinyl or aluminum, the impact marks will usually just puncture the surface. However, some hailstones do pierce holes through the surface of siding.
When hailstones leave dents, the initial problems are mostly aesthetic, though the indents can render the siding weaker over the long run. If holes do actually form, the wall is made more vulnerable as the wood itself will be subject to rain exposure.
First Steps to Take After Hail Storm Damage
When a storm has passed through a neighborhood, the first thing a lot of residents do is contact their local home insurer(s). This could leave you at a disadvantage if you don’t have the necessary info gathered to file a compelling claim. If the insurer is fielding a rush of post-storm claims, the company might seek to downplay claims and deny funding to anyone who fails to mount a solid case.
To ensure you have a rock-solid claim, follow these six steps in the immediate aftermath of a hailstorm.
1. Visually Inspect Your Siding
Once a hailstorm has passed, go outside to check the condition of your siding. If you see what appears to be hail impact marks along the siding to any of your exterior walls, you will need to report the issue.
2. Contact a Siding Expert
Before you think about filing a claim, phone your local trusted siding-repair specialist and describe the damage to your home. A siding expert will generally have years of experience at examining hail marks and know whether your case merits a claim.
3. Explain the Full Extent of the Damage
Go into detail about the damage that you saw along the siding of your home. Are there hail marks all over the siding or only in a few spots? Did the impacts merely dent the siding or are there holes at certain marks? Did the hail impact all exterior walls or just one or two?
4. Arrange an On-Site Inspection
If your descriptions are vivid and accurate, the expert will likely have a hunch about the extent of damage and whether you will need to have your siding replaced. If so, arrange to have the repair company send a contractor to your home to examine your siding. Choose a day and time when you can be present.
5. Take Notes and Photographs
As a homeowner, you should always partake in the inspection process when siding/roofing experts come to your property. This way, you can gain a better understanding of the problem at hand and be more prepared for negotiations with your claims adjuster. Ask the contractor any pertinent questions that come to mind during the inspection and document all the crucial details that you see and learn.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
After the inspection, you will be armed with the two pieces of info that are vital to secure insurance funds:
- Yes, your siding does warrant a claim
- The repairs will cost x-amount of money
Without this info, an insurance company could easily downplay the severity of your damage and either underfund or deny your claim. With the backing of a siding expert, it is far easier to secure a reward in the amount necessary to cover the needed repairs. You can even have the contractor negotiate the estimate on your behalf.
How to Tell If Siding Damage Is From Hail or Something Else
Inclement weather or projectile objects could damage the siding on your home. Before you file an insurance claim, it is crucial to know which types of damage will be covered under your policy. If you spot damage along your siding in the aftermath of a hailstorm, it is essential to identify the likely cause of said damage, whether that’s hail or other sources unrelated to the storm itself.
Here are a few clues to help you determine if siding damage is from hail or something else:
- Small Indents: Hail damage is typically inflicted in the form of small indents. The size of a given indent will depend on the circumference of the hailstone, which could range in diameter from that of a pea or a penny to that of a golf ball or tennis ball. The dent itself will result from impact with the edge of the stone from whichever angle the hail has fallen.
- Tiny Holes: On select indents, holes might appear that cut through the surface of the siding. Though these holes are generally small and difficult to spot with the naked eye, they expose the wall-frame behind the siding. This can render the wooden enclosure of your home vulnerable to the elements.
- Multiple Marks: Hail indents tend to be numerous along the sides of a house. Depending on the direction of the wind, certain walls will often be more heavily hit than others. In some cases, the dents might be concentrated across one wall with peripheral damage to the walls down either side.
- Scratches: When hail strikes, the impact is blunt and immediate along a given surface. Since hailstones fall at a slight angle, they hit walls rather than graze them. Therefore, hail leaves dents, no scratches. If you see a scratch along a portion of your siding, it won’t likely stem from a hailstorm.
- An Isolated Mark: Indents from hailstones tend to be numerous — not isolated — along with a given wall or rooftop. If you spot a single, isolated dent along the siding of your home, the damage will more likely be the result of a thrown, possibly stray, ball or another object.
- An Isolated Crack: If the winds are intense, a large hailstone could leave a crack in your siding. However, a crack should only be attributed to hail if many smaller indents surround the spot in question. If you spot a crack on an otherwise intact wall of siding, another object likely caused the damage.
The Best Times of Day to Check for Hail Damage
During certain hours of the day, the sun will be more ideally positioned for home inspections. When you need to inspect your roof, the best time to do so is midday, when the sun beams down directly on your rooftop.
However, when you need to inspect your siding, you can generally get the clearest and most revealing views during the following times:
- Early Morning: One of the best times of day to spot dents and holes along the siding of your home’s exterior is during sunrise. The low level of the sun will pit the rays of light at an even plan to your home. The sunlight of morning makes it especially easier to spot hailstone dents on wood and vinyl siding. When the sun rises in your area, use this time to check the walls facing east.
- Evening: The other opportune time to check for hailstone indents is during sunset. Once again, the even plane of the sun in relation to your house will cast the rays directly at the walls. By contrast, the midday sun will cast light downward at angles and render indents more obscure to the naked eye. When the sun sets in your area, use this time to check the walls facing west.
General Do’s and Don’ts
When you go about filing a siding insurance claim, it is critical to appear at least somewhat savvy about the whole process. Otherwise, bogus contractors and unscrupulous adjusters might try to take advantage of your seemingly unsuspecting nature. After a hailstorm, keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.
1. DO: Meet With the Contractor
During the process of filing an insurance claim, it is crucial to meet with your contractor in person. It is also essential for the contractor and adjuster to meet face-to-face to discuss the damage at hand. If communications are limited to phone calls, they’re liable to miss details during important conversations.
2. DO: Use the Contractor of Your Choice
As a policyholder, you should never feel pressured to accept a contractor your insurance company selects. Instead, find your own third-party contractor. Whereas company-chosen contractors will typically act in the interest of the insurer, a third-party contractor will work in your best interest.
3. DON’T: Automatically Accept the Adjuster’s First Offer
Adjusters will often attempt to downplay damage and underestimate repair costs to save money for the insurance company. To secure sufficient coverage for your siding repairs, compare quotes on equivalent damages and have your contractor present when you do agree to an offer.
4. DON’T: Sign With Any Contractor That Comes to Your Door
Beware of “storm chasers” — the would-be contractors who go door-to-door throughout neighborhoods in the days that immediately follow a local hailstorm. Such people often represent dubious home-repair companies that exist to exploit homeowners in times of desperation. These companies will give unrealistic quotes, offer subpar repair work and be gone from your area before the faultiness becomes apparent.
A good rule of thumb is to only go with a contractor who you contact first.
What Happens If I Do Not Fix the Problem?
When hailstones leave their mark, the indents affect far more than just the aesthetic quality of your roofing and siding. If the damage is not remedied, it can render your home more vulnerable to the elements and decrease its market value.
Some of the most significant potential problems include:
- Weaker Siding: The most immediate consequence of hailstone damage is weakened siding. With numerous dents and possible holes, the siding will no longer be capable of providing maximal wall protection. The damaged siding will also be weaker in subsequent storms and could start to break more easily under inclement weather.
- Water Damage: The raw panels of wood that enclose your living interior are not meant to face rain, snow and hail. When holes are punctured through the siding, however, the wood panels are directly exposed to rainfall along certain spots. Over time, rain can saturate the panels and seep through to the wall cavities and insulation.
- Mold and Rot: On untreated wood, mold is liable to form along spots where water is left to evaporate. Over time, this mold will have a rotting effect on the wood that encloses your interior. Mold can have a detrimental effect on your health and cause odor and sanitation problems.
- Exposed Interiors: Once the elements have bypassed the siding and damaged the wood wall frames, holes and cracks could form that will lead directly to your interior. First, the rain could seep through slots into wall cavities where insulation is stored and then saturate the plasterboard of your living spaces.
- Voided Warranties: The warranty on the exterior components of your home could be voided if you don’t take action to have them fixed when necessary. With siding and roofing, you are expected as a homeowner to have those parts repaired in the aftermath of a storm.
- Depreciated Home Value: As a home falls into disrepair due to spiraling damages first inflicted by a hailstorm, the property is liable to go down in value. If you ever wish to sell the home, discerning homebuyers are liable to sense the problems and turn away from the property.
Other Places to Check for Hailstone Damage
Impacts from hailstones will affect your siding in certain ways, yet numerous other parts of your home could also be vulnerable. Look for common signs of damage to the roof and other areas of your home’s exterior immediately following a hailstorm, such as:
- Cracked Shingles: Under torrents of falling hailstones, the shingles on your roof are liable to crack in certain places. If the shingles are made of asphalt, the granules could be wiped off in certain spots due to fallen hail. Shingles made of wood and clay are prone to crack when hit with large hailstones.
- Damaged Fascia: The boards that line the edges of your roof are vulnerably situated regarding inclement weather. Depending on the size, speed and angle of the hail, indents and possible cracks are apt to form along the fascia. To the naked eye, the most obvious sign could be the damage to the fascia paint.
- Dented or Obstructed Gutters: When a roof’s drainage system becomes compromised, the roof itself is in jeopardy. The gutters drain water from the roof and, in doing so, prevent water from seeping under the shingles and through the underlying wood. The impact from hailstones can leave dents along a gutter and obstruct the flow of water at certain points.
Choose a Reputable Company to Handle Your Insurance Claim
Once your home has incurred damage from a hailstorm, it is important to find a roofing and siding company that can handle your claim and secure the necessary funds to cover the damage at hand. At The Exterior Company, we fix siding on residential properties whenever the need arises in the counties of Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania.
At The Exterior Company, our team has years of experience in exterior home repairs, from roofing and siding to windows and gutters. Contact us today for more information.