Hail Damage - Shingle/Tile/Metal Roofs

Hail Damage Defined: Hail definitions vary from source to source.  In Florida, if you want to know the definition of "Sinkhole Damage", you can look it up in the State Statutes.  It's not the simplest definition but it is defined.  However there is no definition for hail damage in the State Statutes.  So this makes assessing a hail damaged roof claim somewhat difficult.

Key Areas/Questions to Consider:

Is the roof leaking? - If the roof was hail damaged it should contain widespread leaks.  For a shingle roof this means the fiberglass mat has been fractured and water intrusion is occurring.  However roof leaks are rarely found on hail claims.  Which leads to the next topic; "Why are you claiming your roof was damaged by hail?"

Typical Hail Claim Comments-

  • "My neighbors just got a new roof after the storm"
  • "A roofer told me my roof was hail damaged"

The "neighbor got a new roof" comment is very common.   Insurance carriers send adjusters/engineers out to specific sites.  The scope of work does not include surrounding houses and buildings.  The rationale for this approach is that houses differ in construction type/age, exposure, roof materials, etc.  As an adjuster or engineer, the fact that a neighbor got a new roof is irrelevant.  You don't typically know the circumstances.  Was it inspected?  Who inspected it?  What percentage of the roof was covered etc.  However as a homeowner, you can argue this point: "If my neighbors houses on either side of me got new roofs, how can my roof not be hail damaged?".  There is no science behind this argument.  It's important to remember there is a scientific component to defining hail damage as well as lay persons point of view.  An engineer may have stacks of data on a project however part of his assessment should include" If a jury of regular people looked at pictures of this roof, would they say it was hail damaged?".

"My roofer told me i had hail damage"-  First off, yes the roofer has a vested interest in getting a hail claim approved.  A roofer makes a living installing roofs.  So lets dissect the typical roofer point of view;

Hail Impacts versus Granular Loss- Shingles are simply fiberglass mat encased in asphalt and covered with ceramic coated granules.  Shingles are a wear surface.  They are made to shed granules over time.  Even a rain event will dislodge granules or they will simply fall away.  So granules are everything from a roofer's perspective.  The roofer will typical get on the roof and starting circling areas of granular loss.  

Key items in a shingle roof hail evaluation:

Collateral indicators of damaging hail -  look for dents in metal surfaces (vents, gutters, screens).  Note; hail is random in nature.  Patterns should be random.  Also differentiate hail from mechanical damage.  For example when evaluating damage at downspouts, reach up as high on the downspouts as you can.  If there are only dents in the areas from your upper reach to the ground., those are likely not hail related dents. 

Hail Damage to commercial and residential roofs is a topic that can be debated endlessly.  As engineers we rely on testing data to base our conclusions on.  The most commonly referenced testing data was performed by HAAG Engineering.  Using simulated hail projectiles directed at roofing materials they arrived at some basic hail size thresholds for damaging hail:

organic mat shingles- 0,75" diameter

three-tab fiberglass shingles - 1.0" diameter

architectural/dimensional shingles- 1.25" diameter