Hail season is upon us and we’ve already seen significant weather events this past March and April. Wicked storms that dropped large hail in Norman, Oklahoma, and San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, on April 28, are projected to have caused more than $3.5 billion in damages. Residents were forced to take shelter inside as the massive hail bombarded the areas. In mid-April, severe weather storms dropped large hail on an Alabama coastal city and leveled buildings in the Florida Panhandle.
In 2020, according to a report issued by Verisk Analytics, more than 6.2 million properties in the U.S. were affected by one or more damaging hail events in 2020. The Verisk report also indicates that, while the vulnerable region historically known as “hail alley” (stretching from Wyoming to Texas) remains under threat, the footprint of significant hail exposure has been expanding over time, demanding attention in all states.
How Hail is Formed
Hail is a form of precipitation — like rain or snow — that is made up of solid ice. Hailstones are formed when rain droplets are carried upwards by a current of air, called an updraft, during thunderstorms. The stronger the thunderstorm, the larger the hail can get, according to Weather.com. While the biggest hail is often associated with severe thunderstorms in the Plains and Southeast from February in June/July, hail is also common in the cooler season along the West Coast as storm systems take advantage of the winter cold air.
So how do you protect properties against hail damage?
- Considering that the roof is the most exposed element in the event of a hailstorm, property owners should inspect their roofs often. Replace any worn materials or other weak areas to ensure that leaks don’t occur during a future storm.
- Contact a professional roofer and learn about the best impact-resistant materials suitable for the building – whether it’s a commercial property, multifamily structure, a single-family home, or apartment complex. The most efficient roofing materials when it comes to impact resistance are metal and slate. Another feature that may increase or decrease the possibility that the roof is damaged by hail is the slope. A steep-sloped roof reduces overall hail damage.
- For businesses constructing new facilities or re-roofing, installing impact-resistant roof coverings should also be considered. Roof damage can lead to extensive water damage inside a building and, in some cases, disrupt service, both of which can be costly for a business.
- Use hail guards to mitigate damage to HVAC units on the roof, shields to protect AC coils, and protective screens on skylights.
- A building’s façade may also get hail damage, in the event of a severe hailstorm. Consider protecting the walls with quality siding material. Install impact-resistant windows.
Talk to both your commercial and personal insureds about the need for proper coverage to protect against wind and hail damage. Review specific language and policy deductibles with those located in high-risk areas.