What the?Hail? These Ice Balls Can Be Dangerous and Expensive, Says I.I.I.

Contact: Press Offices
New York: 212-346-5500; media@iii.org
Washington, D.C.: 202-833-1580

NEW YORK, April 16, 2008 - Hail is often overlooked as an insurance concern, but even small hailstones can shatter windows, smash roofs, leave pockmarks in siding and cause thousands of dollars in damage to your property, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Just imagine a golf ball dropped from an airplane flying at 30,000 feet, reaching speeds of 120 MPH as it falls to the ground. Now imagine the damage it could do if it hit the roof of your house or car. Hail can also cause serious injury and even death.

Hail damage is covered under standard homeowners insurance. It is also covered under your auto policy, provided you have comprehensive coverage. Some companies may have special deductibles in hail prone areas, to help keep insurance premiums at affordable levels.

"Hailstorms cause almost $1 billion in damage in the U.S. each year," said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. "The best way to protect your property is to have a hail-resistant roof, and if possible, keep your car under cover in stormy weather."

Hailstorms can occur at anytime, but are most common in the spring and summer. Hailstorms occur most often in the high altitude areas east of the Rocky Mountains and in the Great Plains where millions of dollars in crops are destroyed each year by hailstones. The hail belt includes Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri-Kansas experiences more hail damage than any other state.

Most hailstones are small, usually less than two inches in diameter. The largest hailstone ever recorded fell on June 23, 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska and had a diameter of 7.0 inches and weighed just less than 1 pound. The heaviest hailstone fell in Coffeeville, Kansas on September 3, 1970 and weighed 1.67 pounds.

The I.I.I. and the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offer the following tips to protect your home and your family from hail:

Before a Storm

  • When building a new home or replacing your roof consider using hail-resistive roofing products. Materials earning a Class 4 rating for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 2218 test standard have the highest level of impact resistance.
  • Listen to weather updates and reports on hail activity
  • Stay indoors until the storm subsides.
  • Close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside.

During a Storm

  • Do not try to go outside to protect your property during a storm. Stay indoors until the storm has passed.
  • Stay away from skylights, windows and doors.

After a Storm

  • Check trees, shrubs and plants around your house. If they are stripped of their foliage, there is a possibility that your roof is damaged. You should also check for roof damage if patio covers, screens or soft aluminum roof vents are dented.
  • Check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass.

If your property has been damaged and you must file a claim, the I.I.I. suggests the following steps to speed the claims process:

  1. Protect your property from further damage

  • If you find signs that hail has battered your property, take immediate steps to protect it from further damage.
  • Cover any broken windows and holes in your roof so that no water can enter and damage your home's interior.
  • Cover any broken windows in your car to prevent damage to the interior from rain and remove glass from the car's interior to prevent cuts and damage to upholstery and carpeting.

  • File your claim
    • Call your agent or company as soon as you notice damage. Almost all homeowners policies cover hail damage. You car will be covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage.
    • If your agent or company requests you to do so, follow up your call with a written explanation of what happened.
    • Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

  • Select a repair company
    • After an insurance adjuster has surveyed the hail damage to your property, select a reputable roofing company or auto body shop to make repairs.
    • Allow only the insurance adjuster and roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.
    • Be wary of out-of-town roofers who move into an area and set up shop immediately following a storm. While most of these firms are reputable, some collect money from homeowners and move on to the next storm site leaving work unfinished or without paying suppliers. This can leave homeowners holding the bag for those additional costs. It is a good idea to select a company with established credibility and local references. Word of mouth is still your best guide.
    • Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they do not, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured on your property or if they damage a neighbor's property.
    • Do not make final payment to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected and you are satisfied.

    For more information about hail, go to the IBHS Web site, www.DisasterSafety.org. For more information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.

    For related video, go to Protecting Your Roof from Hail. Reporters who would like a DVC Pro or Beta hard copy of the b-roll footage, please contact: Susan Stolov at 301-728-1978 or SusanStolov@WashingtonIndependentProductions.com .

    The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

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