Dealing with Hail

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: So when you think about threats to your home, dealing with hail might not be the first thing you think of.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. But while fire and flood generally go to the top of the list for homeowner safety concerns, the fact is that hail, if it does hit, it could still reek its share of havoc. Here to help us with tips on dealing with hail is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Hey, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So this isn’t really the kind of storm damage homeowners are ever really prepared for, right?

    KEVIN: No. Not prepared for and not expecting and rightfully so. These hailstorms are relatively rare. But when they do strike, man, they can be really costly. Get a load of this: in the United States, hail results in over a billion dollars in damage annually. And I don’t know if you folks remember this but back in 2001, the states of Kansas and Missouri, they were affected by a hailstorm. And it resulted in $2 billion in damage from a single storm.

    TOM: Wow. One storm.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy.

    KEVIN: That was the costliest hailstorm. It’s crazy. It absolutely is crazy.

    TOM: Wow. So let’s talk about what hail is exactly so folks understand it. It’s basically what happens when rain freezes, right?

    KEVIN: So hail is formed by thunderstorms that circulate water droplets in updrafts high enough that they end up freezing into these little lumps that we know as hailstones. And as they continue to circulate in the thundercloud, the hailstone grows in size as layers of ice are added. And eventually, they get so big. Guess what?

    TOM: Gravity takes over and down they come.

    KEVIN: Gravity takes over and down they come. And when they start coming down, they could be as small as about ¼-inch. They can get a lot bigger: up to 5 inches or so. But when these things start coming down, they could do a ton of damage to your house and so something you have to worry about.

    LESLIE: I’ll never forget, we had a hailstorm in August one year and it left almost like a dusting of snow on the ground. It looked like it had truly snowed. It was crazy.

    KEVIN: Yeah. I mean there’s a lot of them coming down. Now, the 5- to 6-inch-size ones are certainly a lot less frequent. Something in the range of an inch to an inch and three-quarters is probably more likely. But think about this: when they’re coming down, they could be going 70 miles an hour.

    LESLIE: And that can do a lot of damage.

    KEVIN: That can do a lot of damage.

    LESLIE: And I think it’s important to really look for the damage immediately following a storm when dealing with hail because specifically, if it’s something on your car and it’s in an area where you’re not looking at a certain light or at a certain angle, you’re going to miss it. And I think with insurance companies, you really only have a limited window of time.

    KEVIN: So, most insurance companies will actually cover you for hail damage, which is a good thing.

    TOM: Now we’re talking about homeowners insurance or we’re talking about auto insurance?

    KEVIN: Well, we’re talking about homeowners insurance, which is interesting. But homeowners insurance is good in that respect. I don’t think many auto-insurance plans do cover you for hail unless you’ve got a very comprehensive policy. But if you’re talking about homeowners insurance – unlike flood, for example – oftentimes hail damage is included.

    But to your point, Leslie, usually you have to file a claim within a year. And if you think about the typical damage, obviously, you have to think about the roof, right? That’s the first thing that’s going to be damaged. And it’s not like it’s going to put a hole in your roof. It may damage the shingles. It may knock some of the asphalt covering off of the shingles. And it may start a problem that doesn’t materialize for months or even a year later.

    TOM: So you just might not see it right away when dealing with hail.

    KEVIN: You just might not see it right away. So two things: inspect your house after a hailstorm, as soon as possible. And if you do think you have damage, that’s when you want to reach out to your insurance company, at least to start the claim process.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Always a pleasure.

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