Hail Damaged Your Siding, Now What?
Hail storms are typically companions to powerful thunderstorms. They are disastrous events that can wreak havoc on your roof and siding. With 5,000 hail storms each year, approximately one out of every 47 insured homes file a roof or siding damage claim from wind or hail storms every year. We had over seven million claims and $13 billion in property damage in 2019, says Verisk.
The cost of siding repair or getting a roof replaced ranges from a few hundred dollars to $40,000, with the average being around $8,400. The total siding repair or replacement cost depends on the severity of the storm damage to your siding and roof. These facts underscore the importance of protecting the exterior of your home with wind and hail insurance.
What Is Hail Damage and How Does It Happen?
Hail forms when small bits of precipitation join and freeze in cold sections of thunderstorm clouds. It then drops to the ground as a solid. Hailstone sizes depend on how many layers of precipitation freeze together.
Hailstones can be jagged, smooth, round, or a unique ice formation. Most people recognize hail when it looks like a ball of ice, but it sometimes looks more like a snowflake, crystal, or a rock. The shape and condition depend on how the precipitation freezes and what happens on its trip to earth.
Depending on the size and the speed at which hail travels, the damage to your siding could be severe. Hailstones can reach up to 8 inches in diameter and weigh up to 2 lbs. Most are half that size or smaller.
Studies have determined how size and weight affect how fast and hard hail hits the earth.
|Hail Ball Size||Hail Diameter||Terminal Fall Speed|
|Smallest||less than 1 inch||9 - 25 mph|
|Small||1 - 2 inches||25 - 40 mph|
|Medium||2 - 4 inches||40 - 72 mph|
|Large||over 4 inches||72 - 100 mph|
The bottom line is that larger hailstones fall faster and create bigger dents. That is obvious, but wind also plays a significant role in their speed. Many people believe hail falls vertically, but windstorms might blow the hail at an angle or even completely sideways. Strong winds can also cause small hailstones to travel faster than they would otherwise, increasing the force with which they hit an object.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hail Damage to Siding?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies do cover damaged siding caused by wind or hail unless your policy excludes wind and hail perils. In some hail-prone areas, though, homeowners might be required to pay a separate hail and wind deductible, typically 1%, 2%, 5%, or 10% of your dwelling coverage.
Even if you don't have a wind and hail deductible, it is smart to increase your coverage or purchase additional wind and hail coverage if you live in a high wind and hail risk area since the damage can be severe to your home's exterior.
If insurers in your state exclude wind and hail perils, your state might offer coverage. For example, Texans can get a policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TIWA). Premiums cost roughly $1,600 per year. Prices vary by state; Florida's state plan costs around $2,600 per year.
It is essential to read your policy. Many insurers have a Cosmetic Damage Exclusion in their policies. Speak to your agent to get a detailed description of cosmetic; there is usually a gray area between aesthetic and functional. Also, be aware that dented siding could reduce your resale value quite significantly.
Siding Damage from Hail
After a hail storm ends and it is safe to go outside, check your siding for damage. Know how to spot hail damage and how it is different from other damage, especially if you file a hail damage insurance claim. Specific signs you should look for depend on the type of siding you have.
What Does Hail Damage Look Like on Siding?
If you wish to file a hail damage insurance claim for your siding, be aware that the insurance adjuster is trained and sometimes motivated to determine if the damage originated from something other than hail strikes. The more you know about hail damage, the better you can defend your assertions.
- Small Indents. Small indents are the most common type of hail damage. Indent sizes range from pea-size to tennis ball size.
- Small holes. Holes might pierce the siding. They are often hard to see with the human eye, but their damages can be fierce. Holes expose the frame that siding is supposed to cover and causes mold, mildew, insect infestation, water damage, and other issues.
- Scratches. Hail does not leave scratches. Instead, it hits with a blunt force, usually on an angle leaving a dent.
Your insurance adjuster will deny hailstorm claims for scratches. However, a tree or something the wind blew against your siding could cause scratches.
- A single mark. Your home's siding will not get hit by one lone hailstone that escaped from the pack. Marks on your siding will be numerous and probably be on your roof too. If you have an isolated mark, either Johnny from next door had a flyaway baseball, or the storm had high winds that blew something into your siding.
- A single crack. If you see numerous dents near a crack, it is possible that a large hailstone blew into your siding during high winds and cracked it. If you do not see companion dents, the crack probably happened from something else.
- Many marks. Hail storms are intense. They often leave numerous marks, especially marks concentrated in certain areas that get hit more heavily.
What Functional Damage Does Hail Cause to Siding?
The rippling effects of hail damage are enormous. It can cause:
- Weak Siding. One crack from a hailstone makes a difference. Numerous holes, dents, and cracks threaten your siding's ability to protect your interior wall structures. After its first storm, your siding continues to degrade with each succeeding storm.
- Exposed Interiors. Once the elements have bypassed siding and damaged wood wall frames, holes, and cracks could form, leading to your home's interior. The pathway to your interior living area is first through the siding, wood wall structure, insulation, and finally, the drywall or plasterboard.
- Water Damage. Wood panel structures between your siding and your interior living area are not snow, rain, and hail resistant. When holes puncture siding, rain hits the interior wood panels directly near those holes. Eventually, rain saturates these panels and seeps through walls and its insulation.
- Rot and Mold. The structure of your home is typically untreated wood, which is susceptible to mold when exposed to water. Over time, the mold causes rotting and can severely impact your health, cause odors, and create sanitation issues.
- Voided Warranties. Your warranty on your home's exterior materials might become void if the damage is left unrepaired. To keep your warranty valid, you must repair your siding after hail strikes it.
- Home Value Depreciation: Your home will lose its value quickly if you do not keep up with repairs.
Is One Type of Siding More Vulnerable to Hail Than Others?
Steel and fiber cement sidings are the most resilient against hail damage. Stone, brick, and wood also perform well against dents and cracking from hailstones but absorb moisture whereas metal siding does not.
Vinyl and aluminum siding are most vulnerable to hail damage. You will need more replacement siding with vinyl and aluminum siding materials than other types of siding. The damages vinyl and aluminum siding sustain can quickly leave the rest of your home exposed to the elements.
- Hail Damage to Vinyl Siding. Vinyl siding is plastic, and it typically cracks and easily breaks when hit by hail and in freezing weather. Unless it is an insulated version, it will not withstand high winds that accompany hailstorms.
You will also likely notice chipped paint at the bottom section of your vinyl panels. However, some vinyl siding looks good, is easy to clean, and is less expensive than other types of siding. It does not hold moisture and is water-resistant; therefore, it will not rot. But, because it cracks and breaks easily from hail, water could seep in and cause problems with your interior walls and insulation.
- Hail Damage to Aluminum Siding. Hail can cause several types of damage to aluminum siding, including dents, cracks, holes, and chipped paint. You might also find oxidation marks on it. It is more durable than Vinyl, but it does not hold up well in high winds and hail and invites water damage, mold, and rotting to the interior walls of your home.
- Steel Siding is the Best Material for Hail. Steel siding does not break or crack from hail, flying debris, or extreme weather, hot or cold, which means your interior walls will be protected against water damage, mold, and rotting. The material itself also does not absorb moisture.
If any damage does occur to steel siding, it usually goes no further than denting. Unlike Vinyl and aluminum, dented steel continues to protect your house. Steel siding often comes with a 35-year warranty and typically lasts 50 or more years. Dents generally are the only damage to metal siding during a hailstorm.
- Fiber Cement Siding is Excellent Against Hail Damage. Fiber cement has almost the same durability as steel siding. Fiber cement usually has a 15-year warranty for cracks, peeling, fading, and chipping from paint, and it will last 30-50 years.
- Stone, Brick, and Wood Siding also Hold Up Well in a Hailstorm. You will not experience severe cracking and breakage from stone, brick, and wood siding; however, these materials can absorb moisture that could cause interior walls issues.
Dents are not an issue with stone and brick siding, but wood does dent. However, if you have wood siding, you may not even see the marks. When they are visible, you will know it was hail damage as there will be no discernible pattern in the markings.
If your budget is generous enough for wood and metal siding, especially steel or fiber cement, our experience suggests you will have fewer hail damage claims.
Tips for Successful Siding Hail Damage Insurance Claims
It is wise to do annual or bi-annual inspections of your siding and document your findings after every storm. Documentation strengthens your chances of reimbursement if you must file a claim later because you can prove your siding's before and after conditions. Keep all receipts and dates of siding replacements and repairs, and the original installation dates.
- Inspect the damage in the morning and evening light. Holes and other hail damage can be hard to see. If you inspect your siding when the sun is coming up or going down, the light will hit your home so you can see the damage better. You might also find a flashlight handy.
- Do not fix your siding. It is tempting, but do not fix your siding, or even power wash your siding with a hose before you have a settlement that pleases you.
- Take plenty of pictures and videos. If you spot hail damage, take as many photos and videos as you can. Be sure to take them from several angles so you can see the damage more clearly.
- Get an inspection from an independent contractor. Find a few siding companies with at least five years of experience with hail damage that provide free estimates.
Choose a siding expert with several years of siding experience to ensure you get a quality assessment. The contractor should also check for water damage behind the damaged siding. Get a price estimate for repair and materials; include this with your claim if you file one.
- File your siding damage insurance claim. If the cost to repair far exceeds your deductible and if you feel it is worth the possible increase in premiums, file your claim. Include the siding contractor's repair estimate, which gives legitimacy to your requested claim amount. You should also connect with your home insurance agent and ask for help during the process.
- Make your appointment with the insurance adjuster. Call your insurance company and request the adjuster to come in the morning or evening when the light is better. If you can get the siding contractor to join you, he can help negotiate the severity of the damages on your behalf with the expertise you do not have.
- Document the inspection. Your insurance company's adjuster may try to get by without a full investigation.
Keep notes of everything that happens while they are there. Note how long they spent on the inspection, what areas of the home and sections of siding they checked, the time of day they were there, and all other relevant things you notice. Please make sure you are with them during the entire inspection.
Get a Home Insurance Quote that Covers Hail Damage on Siding
Does your homeowners insurance cover hail damage? You may benefit from a change in coverage - check our hail risk assessment tool to find out if your neighborhood has a high risk of hail.
If you live in a hail-prone area, and you are not protected, we would be happy to compare 40+ policies and find the best coverage for hail damage to roofs and siding.
At your service,