Storms producing hail can cause serious damage to the roofs of homes

The San Antonio Express-News reports that each spring heralds the start of hail season in Texas. Texas is said to be unique in the fact that hail claims are the highest percentage of claims filed on homeowners' insurance policies. While it is the northern portion of Texas that experiences the most severe hailstorms, Bexar County is no stranger to strong thunderstorms bringing hail and high winds. This area has experienced its share of golf-ball to egg-sized hail. Severe storms producing hail and wind often cause serious roof damage to homes.

Hail hitting asphalt shingles at a velocity of 90 mph can bruise the shingles, thereby knocking off the protective granular coating. Hail can leave dents or divots and even break through to the asphalt layer underneath the shingles. Business Journals notes that, after a roof has been impacted by hail, the damage may not be immediately noticeable. Many owners are unaware that they even have significant hail damage. However, over the course of time, heat and cold expand and contract roof membranes that can cause fractures following a hail storm. Heavy rain and ice on a roof with undetected hail-fractured membranes can cause leaks that then damage the home's interior.

The Insurance Information Institute notes that-according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration-$1 billion in property and crop damage is caused by hail each year. In 2013, Texas had the dubious distinction of suffering the largest number of severe hail events in the United States. Unfortunately, the insurance industry's response to hail damage claims has been to write policies with high hail damage deductibles which means that a homeowner may have significant out-of-pocket expenses in the event of hail damage.

After the storm

The Texas Office of Public Insurance notes that, before filing a claim, make sure that you familiarize yourself with what is and what is not covered by your policy. Also note what your deductibles are and what your duties are following a loss. If you have hail or wind damage, file your claim as soon as possible by calling your agent or your insurance company's claims hotline. Notify the insurance company if you need temporary shelter.

Provide complete and correct information since inaccurate information may result in a delayed processing of your claim. Document whenever you communicate with your insurance company and whom you speak to. Keep copies of all correspondence with the insurance company.

When assessing your home following storm damage, it is useful to photograph or video any damage to the interior and exterior of the home. Having photographic evidence often helps speed up the claims process. Also provide your insurer with the home inventory you took prior to the storm. If it is safe to do so, you can make reasonable and necessary temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage. Make sure, however, that you keep all receipts regarding the temporary repairs and do not dispose of any damaged portion of your home until an adjuster has seen it. If possible, video the storm damage before making the temporary repairs. It is highly advisable not to make permanent repairs until an adjuster views the damage.

Seek legal help

Texans who have homeowners' insurance coverage expect prompt service from their insurer when a storm damages their home. If your insurance company seems to be dragging its feet in processing your claim, you should contact a Texas attorney experienced in handling insurance matters as soon as possible.