Advice for Protecting your Home and Property from Hail
When many people think about major natural catastrophes, they are not likely thinking about hail. However, a very intense, concentrated hail event can cause a disproportionate distribution of losses. Reinsurer Gen Re reported that a single hail event several years ago caused their clients over $1 billion of insured losses in less than 15 minutes.1 While this is an extreme example, it helps to illustrate how damaging the peril can be.
Hail has consistently ranked among the top 10 costliest causes of loss for the PURE membership. Throughout 2018 and 2019, we repaired or replaced more than 1,700 roofs damaged by hail; hailstorm events caused nearly $61 million in damages.
And while the majority of hailstorms happen in the southern and central plains states,where warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cold dry air from Canada collide to produce violent thunderstorms, they have been known to occur in just about every state. The typical hail season runs from mid-April through mid-September, with the majority of severe storms usually occurring in June.
The evolution of the 2015 hail season by month. Yellow to red indicates low to high hail activity as measured by the count of severe hail days.
The combination of gravity and downward wind can propel hailstones at speeds upwards of 90 mph,2 which can lead to significant damage. “We’ve seen instances where large hailstones have penetrated straight through roofs,” said Frank DiGrande, SVP of Property Claims for PURE. “Even moderate hailstorms can shatter windows, leave pockmarks in siding and damage roof coverings to the extent they need to be replaced,” he added.
Protecting Your Home from Hail
“Your roof is your first line of defense against hail and other costly natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and winter weather,” said Frank. “Once the roof fails, it exposes other parts of your home to damage, so having the right roof is key,” he added.
Over time, exposure to sun and other elements can leave roof coverings brittle and reduce their impact resistance. To keep your roof in top condition, it’s critical that you routinely inspect it, quickly repair any wear and tear and replace it when necessary.
When Replacing Your Roof Covering
- Select impact-resistant roof coverings. If you are replacing an old or recently damaged roof, opt for one that is impact resistant. The materials may be more costly, but it will provide better protection for your entire home over the long run. Look for roofing materials rated UL-2218 or FM-4473 as Class 3 or 4. There are several options available that fit this criteria, ranging from asphalt shingles to concrete tiles. Learn more about impact-resistant roof coverings.
- Remove the existing roof covering. Be sure your contractor removes the existing shingles and underlayment rather than simply installing new shingles over them. That way, he can do a thorough inspection of the sheathing and make any necessary repairs.
When Building or Conducting Major Renovations to a Home
In addition to opting for an impact-resistant roof covering, discuss the following precautions with your builder.
- Consider the pitch (slope) of the roof. The degree to which your roof slopes has a considerable effect on its vulnerability to hail. A low or flat pitch allows hailstones to impact your roof more directly, resulting in more significant damage.
- Consider the roof deck. Decking provides structural support underneath the roof covering and water membrane. The stiffness of the roof deck plays an important role: too much flexibility can reduce the impact-resistance of the roof covering.
- Add additional protection against water. Install self-adhering flashing tape or modified polymer bitumen strips, commonly called peel and seal, over the joints in your roof deck. This will help keep rain out in the event the roof covering becomes damaged or destroyed.
- Install felt paper for added drainage. Install one layer of #30 underlayment, sometimes called felt paper, over the roof decking and secondary water barrier. The felt helps with drainage in the event water gets under the roof covering.
For additional advice on ways to better protect your home from the damaging effects of hail, contact a PURE Member Advocate® at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Homeowners | Weather | Water Damage