Oh, hail! Those pellets of ice might not seem like a big deal, but they can be costly if you don’t prepare for them while the sky is still clear.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hailstorms cause $1 billion in damages to crops and property each year. Hailstones can reach speeds of up to 100 mph and range from the size of a dime to the size of a softball.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of hailstorms, make sure you’re hail-ready to help minimize the damage. Here are a few tips to ensure that this weather phenomenon won’t catch you off guard.
1. Hail-Proof Your Home’s Roof
A great place to start any hail-proofing mission is on the roof. The roof is the most vulnerable area of your home as it bears the brunt of the storm. One effective protection measure is to use roofing materials that are tough enough to defend your home from a hail assault.
Roofing materials are rated based on how well they perform on an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) test, which involves dropping steel balls of various size to determine how well the materials hold up after impact. The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) determined that modified asphalt shingles are the most hail-resistant.
If a new roof is not an option, then a good place to start is a roof inspection. Check for holes and other vulnerabilities that can be patched up to prevent hail from getting inside and causing water damage. If the condition of the roof looks poor, hire an expert to thoroughly examine it. Do you have skylights? Make sure you increase their impact resistance by using a protective screen.
2. Prepare Your Windows
The roof isn’t the only area of your home about which you should be concerned. Fast moving hail can crack or even punch holes in siding and shatter windows. This kind of breakage leaves the interior of your home vulnerable to flying hailstones and flooding. Consider purchasing impact resistant windows and siding to minimize the effects of hailstorms.
3. Additional Hail Considerations
Do you have an air conditioning unit? Check for exposed coils and other vulnerable areas of the AC unit and install shielding to keep it safe. Are there trees on your property? Trimming back branches can prevent them from falling onto your home during a storm and causing additional problems.
4. Protect Your Car from Hail
Hailstones can turn a beautiful car into a dimpled mess in minutes, and the costs to restore your vehicle’s exterior can put even more of a dent in your wallet. Auto claims for hail damage average between $2,000 and $3,000*.
Parking in enclosed structures isn’t always an option, but there are other measures you can take when the forecast calls for hail. Cutting edge protective covers that fold up small enough to fit in your trunk are available for purchase. Some are so high tech, they blow up like a balloon in order to keep your car safe. A cost effective alternative is to use thick blankets and towels – or even your floor mats – to cover your vehicle.
5. Insurance Coverage for Hail Damage
Sometimes even your best efforts are not enough to prevent the damage that can result from a strong hailstorm. To ensure your car is protected, make sure you have comprehensive insurance. Although this is an optional coverage, the benefits can be extremely worthwhile, as the coverage also includes glass replacement.
Hail happens, but it doesn’t have to be a devastating event. Planning and preparation will help you protect your property and be ready for when a hailstorm hits.
*“Hail damage: Are you covered?” Insurance.com, 05/11/2015