Hail Damage and a Myth of a Storm Chaser

hail damage hinsdaleRoofing is a tough business with lots of competition and, yes, a few bad apples. No wonder that fear of dealing with a dishonest service provider and the fact that any decision involving roofing systems has major logistical and financial implications, makes homeowners less willing to be proactive and talk to a roofer about potential roof damage.

A sudden event, such as a hailstorm, definitely creates a sense of urgency, but at the same time, exacerbates the fear of bad experience and financial loss. Sometimes well-meaning blogs and other online media sites create a false impression that all roofers are “out there to get you”, or that all roofers who specialize in hail damage repair are “storm chasers” up to no good.

This is now becoming our summer tradition, but here’s one more blog post intended to dispel some myths and set the record straight about hail damage and storm chasing in Illinois.

What is a “storm chaser” in roofing and is it a bad thing?

Generally, “storm chasers” are roofers who travel around the country (or just a certain state) following the paths of storms looking for homes with damaged roofs from a recent storm. Some consumer blogs are quick to condemn such roofers and label them as scammers, but it’s simply not true! Saying that all roofers who seek business in the areas that have been affected by a recent hail is like saying that all food truck owners are scammers because they park their trucks in the areas with lots of foot traffic. It’s like saying that hail damage itself is a myth (clearly, insurance companies would disagree with this statement). 

If you want business of homeowners whose property has been damaged by a hail storm, there has to be a hail storm, first right? Current technology allows roofers to pinpoint the areas where hail damage is the most likely to occur. So there’s nothing wrong with the fact that some roofers solicit business in this manner, as long as they’re honest about their findings and as long as they run legitimate, bonded and insured businesses.

A full disclaimer: ATJ’s Home Improvement does not travel outside the state of Illinois to solicit seek out hail damage business and we only engage in “storm chasing” to the extent that we do occasionally have our sales consultants visit some areas in the state of Illinois immediately after a large-scale hailstorm. In most cases, homeowners find us.

There was a hailstorm in my area. Does it automatically mean that my roof was damaged?

Absolutely not! This is where some storm chasers do give a bad name to honest roofers since they tend to imply that every hailstorm is a calamity of Biblical proportions. Pea sized hail (1/4 of an inch) or marble-sized hail (1/2 inch) might not cause damage. Anything larger, like a dime or a quarter (3/4 to one inch) can cause serious damage. Golf ball sized hail is 1 ¾ inches and softball-sized hail is 4 ½ inches. Having said that, you won’t know if your roof was damaged until you check, and checking isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Sure, if there was some heavy rain with just a little bit of pea-sized hail, chances are, your roof is just fine. However, if your roof is old with extensive previous damage and lots of wear and tear, even a little bit of hail can be the last straw that will end your roof’s life.

I think my roofers is just being “sales-y.” Why is it so important to check my roof immediately after a hailstorm? It’s not like the hail has completely destroyed my roof and we’re going to wake up in a puddle of water the next day?

You’re partially right—it’s very unlikely that you’re going to see major leaks immediately after the storm is over. However, it’s not the damage done today that matters. Roof damage is the most difficult to detect because it may be two or three years before the homeowners begin to notice leaks. That discovery doesn’t come until well after the one- year period in which the policyholder has to file a claim. If you live in Illinois, have proper insurance and you’re not fan of paying the full price of your roof repairs or replacement, acting fast is crucial. Experienced hail damage roofer will be able to check your roof for damage, as well as walk you through the process of filing an insurance claim and working with their claims adjuster to make sure you’re treated fairly and all the evidence of the damage has been properly presented to your insurance company.

Are all hail insurance policies the same? How do I know if I have coverage?

In order to get answers to this question, you should do some homework and show around before buying your homeowners’ insurance. Nearly all policies cover hail, but with the changes taking place in the housing market and home values increasing, it’s important to make sure you have enough coverage. Some insurance companies are trying to cover their losses by attaching various restrictions and limitations to their hail coverage. It’s important that you actually read your policy and, once again, shop around before making your final decision as to which coverage is right for you.