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How to file a hail damage claim.

Let’s face it, hail happens.

Depending on the size and speed at which it falls, hail and the wind that comes with it can cause considerable property damage. According to NOAA, last year, there were 6,045 reports of severe weather involving hail – 1,326 happened in May alone. In the unfortunate event that a hailstorm hits your home or business and you suffer property damage, we suggest following these seven tips for filing a hail damage claim.

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Wait for the storm to clear.

Once the storm has passed and conditions are safe, locate your homeowner’s policy. Use a notebook to keep your storm-related documents organized. Make note of your policy number, deductible and claim department phone number.

Document the event and your damage.

Include the time and date of the storm in your notes; this may later be referred to as your “date of loss.”

Demonstrate the size of the hail with a photo of hailstones next to a tape measure. Document the quantity of hail with photos and video of any stones on your roof, in your yard, patio or sidewalks.

If it can be done safely, further support your claim with photos and video documenting your losses:

  • Roof damage – holes or open areas, missing or torn shingles, indent marks, darkened spots, dents or rips in gutters, vents or flashing;
  • Structural damage – leaning chimneys, walls, porches, garage structures; fallen trees;
  • Exterior wall damage – dents or cracks in stucco, loose or broken siding, trim or fascia; exposed wood, peeling paint;
  • Window/glass door damage – breaks; cracks; dents in trim or hardware;
  • Air conditioning units – dents; bent fins; restricted air flow;
  • Other property damage – leaning or downed fencing; sheds, patio furniture, playground structures;
  • Interior damage – holes or cracks in ceilings, walls;
  • Leaks – pooled water; damaged drywall; damaged flooring; damaged contents.

Mitigate further damage.

After an event like a hailstorm, most insurance policies require that you do what you can to prevent further losses. While you wait for the adjuster to inspect your damage, you may need to make temporary repairs. Get consent for any temporary repairs from your insurance company in advance and be sure to keep all receipts so that the costs can be included for reimbursement in your claim. Avoid starting full repairs until everything has been properly documented.

Notify your insurance company.

Call your insurance company to file a claim. Be sure to make note of your:

  • Assigned claim number
  • Adjuster’s name and contact information
  • Date of adjuster’s visit (make sure you’re available to meet them at your home or business for the inspection)
  • Where to send documentation supporting your claim (copies of damages list, photos, videos, estimates, receipts, etc.)

CLAIM TIP: Take note of every conversation you have with your insurance company. Be sure to include:

  • Dates and topics of conversation;
  • Name and number of the person spoken with;
  • Items discussed;
  • Actions agreed to, parties responsible and related deadlines or time-frames.

Meet the adjuster for your inspection.

Have your supporting documentation available for the visit, including your damage list, photos and any estimates you’ve received. Make sure the adjuster inspects your property for all event-related damage, not just the damage you’ve identified. Take notes of your conversation. Request a copy of the final report and ask that all claim checks be made out to you directly.

Get independent estimates for repair from at least two licensed contractors.

Do not feel obligated to use a contractor referred to you by your insurance company. Look for state licensed and bonded contractors in your area to provide independent and thorough inspection of your damage and estimates for repairs based on the cost of materials and labor in your area. Get all estimates in writing and be sure they include:

  • Manufacturer, type and quantity of materials needed for the job
  • Product warranty details
  • Cost and time for labor
  • Project specifications
  • Approximate start and completion date
  • Payment procedures
  • Building permits and fees, if required

Before hiring any contractor, be sure to confirm their references and certificates of insurance (both liability and workers compensation).

Make sure your insurance company’s payout offer and your contractors’ estimates align before starting any repairs.

If your claim is denied, or you are unhappy with your insurance company’s payout offer, consider contacting one of the insurance attorneys at McDonald Law Firm to help sort things out. We’ll evaluate the merits of your claim for free and determine what legal grounds you may have to get a fair payout for your hail damage. If you decide to hire us, we’ll handle your case on contingency, which means you never owe us any out-of-pocket fees or expenses.

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