Roof Hail Damage: How to Recognize and Handle It Properly

hail ranges in size, shape, and density

This guide will cover...


how to spot hail damage on a shingle roof

How to Spot Hail Damage on a Shingle Roof

The first step to addressing hail damage is identifying it. Sometimes, recognizing hail damage on a roof can be extremely obvious and easy to do; while in other cases, it's difficult to tell.

If your roof has a patch void of shingle granules, this is a sure-fire sign that your roof has undergone hail damage.

Sometimes this is easy to see, as a large section of granules will be missing—almost like a bald spot. However, if the storm wasn't as intense and the damage isn't as drastic, you’ll have to look more carefully to determine whether or not there are other, smaller signs of damage.

Shingles will react differently when struck by hail depending on their material.

For example, damage done to asphalt or composition shingles will look different than the damage done to wood shingles, even if they’ve been struck by hail from the same storm.

Common Signs that Your Shingle Roof is Damaged

Asphalt & Composition Shingles Wood Shingles
Loss of granules Random marks with no noticeable pattern
Looks as if it's shiny Splits in shingles that have no sharp corners or are brown in color
Marks that are soft to the touch, like bruised a apple Dents along the splits
Impact marks that are black in color  

It’s important to take note of as much damage as possible for a couple of reasons:

1. It makes it easier for the insurance company to approve your claim.

2. Even the smallest section of a cracked or damaged roof can cause leaks and moisture problems.

During your visual inspection, take a piece of chalk and mark each sign of damage. Take pictures as you go. If there's roughly 8 or more instances of damage within a 10 ft. x 10 ft. square on three sides of your roof, you should be able to file a claim with your insurance company and get it approved.
 


What Hail Damage Does to a Shingle Roof

Is hail damage really all that threatening to your roof? It depends on the type and severity of the damage.

Hail damage is typically categorized into two types: “functional” or “cosmetic” damage.

Functional hail damage affects the integrity and longevity of the roof. Cosmetic hail damage affects the appearance of the roof, but not in a way that compromises the roof’s ability to perform its normal functions.

When large sections of granules get knocked off from hail, the roof becomes exposed to damaging UV rays from the sun.

Hail damage can lead to vulnerability in your roof, which can accelerate...

  • the roof aging process
  • water leaks
  • blistering
  • cracking

In some cases, hail can even shatter the granule-asphalt surface. This causes exposure of the fiberglass mat, leading to increased degradation of the roof. In addition, if hail fractures the fiberglass mat, hidden damage may develop into tears and cracks as the shingles age.

Hail damage rapidly decreases the lifespan of a roof, regardless of the material. That is why it’s always a good idea to inspect your property after a hailstorm and look for possible damage. Scheduling necessary repairs quickly can reduce the chance of greater damage and make the insurance claims process easier.
 


Factors Influencing Severity of Hail Damage

The severity of damage inflicted by hail depends on a few factors, like the type of roofing material, the age of the roof, and the quality of installation. The size, density, and velocity of hail will also greatly influence the overall damage.

Wind

Wind direction and speed often vary during a hailstorm. These changes in conditions affect the location and severity of hail impacts.

Hail Size and Density

The size of hailstones varies greatly, ranging from small pellets to large softballs. Naturally, the larger the hail, the greater the damage one can expect from the storm. Additionally, hailstones usually do not have smooth edges, and this factor will impact the scope of damage as well.

Roofing Materials

Different roofing materials react to hail in their own ways. Aluminum siding, gutters, and asphalt shingles are often dinged by hail. Vinyl siding and wood shakes can crack under the impact. Large, softball-sized hail can be dense enough to puncture clean through a roof.

Nearby Protection

Natural protection from tree cover, neighboring structures, or adjacent homes can reduce the likelihood of hail causing serious damage.


Learn more about maintaining and inspecting your roof yourself:

Find a Qualified Roof Repair Contractor


File an Insurance Claim After a Hail Storm

If you know or suspect your roof has been damaged after a hailstorm, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. The sooner you report the damage, the more likely the claim will be approved. Sometimes, a time lapse between the storm and the report will cause companies to deny a claim.

To effectively file an insurance claim:

  • Find your homeowner’s insurance policy
  • Write down the insurance policy number and deductible
  • Prepare all the necessary facts and other pertinent records, such as photos of the damage, the date and time it occurred, size of the hail, and a list of damaged items
  • Record the claim number given by your insurance provider

Whether or not an insurance claim is approved rests on a number of variables, including the severity of the damage, the quality of roofing materials, your particular insurance company’s evaluation criteria, and more. 

Will my insurance rate go up for filing a claim?

Most insurance companies do not raise rates or premiums for homeowners filing a claim due to hail damage.

Hail should be covered as an “act of nature.” However, if a large geographic area has been affected by a storm, the entire area may see an increased rate in insurance deductibles so that the insurance companies can cover their losses. 

If hail damage occurs on a small, individual basis, your rates should not increase. But if a severe storm or hurricane rolls through a large geographic area, the chances that your deductible will increase are high.
 


Hire an Experienced Roofer to Handle the Repairs

If a big storm hits your neighborhood, be wary of storm chasers going door-to-door offering to fix your roof for cheap. Do your own research and hire a reputable contractor with a solid reputation in the area.

Additionally, don’t feel forced to sign with a contractor referred to you by your insurance company. Their motivation may be to work as cheaply as possible in order to save the insurance company money. This could leave your roof vulnerable. By choosing an independent contractor, their incentive is to satisfy you rather than the insurance company.

Find the right roof repair contractor


Learn more about filing an insurance claim and what your roofing warranty covers: