Last week I posted a blog about the scope of damage that natural disasters caused 2013. The post also featured calculations on the number of insured and uninsured claims, plus the monetary liability these natural occurrences left behind.
According to the National Weather Service’s (NWS/NOAA) weather preparedness events calendar, 2014 poses a great threat for record of storms. Certainly this will leave behind a hailstorm of damage.
In the U.S. hail storms have been happening more frequently than ever before. Furthermore, hail storms are among natural catastrophes capable of exponential damages to roofs, vehicles, businesses, and just about anything under the sky. Let’s explore exactly what causes hail storms, and why they are so dangerous. To do this, we will ask a series of questions most people would ask regarding this subject, and answer them.
1. What are hail storms?
According to Dr. Dick Orville of Texas A&M University’s Atmospheric Sciences Department, “hail forms when rain drops are lifted up into the atmosphere during a thunderstorm, then super cooled by temperatures below freezing, forming ice balls”. What starts out as a tiny raindrop becomes a pea-size chunk of ice and some eventually get to be the size of baseballs or softballs.
When these stones fall to earth, the damage can be devastating, even deadly. Large hailstones have been
clocked at more than 90 miles per hour and there have been reports of humans and livestock being killed by large hailstones. Houses, buildings, cars and crops are usually the victims of hail, however.
By definition hail is composed of ice and takes on a spherical shape similar to that of a golf ball or baseball (see Webster’s definition below).
Hail –Precipitation of balls or pieces of ice with a diameter of 0.2–4 in. (5 mm–10 cm). Small hail (also called sleet, or ice pellets) has a diameter of less than 0.2 in. Hail can be extremely destructive to buildings and crops; if it is large enough, it may be dangerous to animals. Hailstones 6 in. (15 cm) in diameter have fallen during storms in the U.S. Midwest. Hailstorms are most common in the middle latitudes and usually last around 15 minutes. They ordinarily occur in middle to late afternoon and may accompany thunderstorms.
1. What causes hail storms?
Hail usually forms over an area and leaves within a few minutes,” Orville notes. “But there have been instances when hail can stay in the same area for tens of minutes, leaving several inches of ice on the ground.” Hail is usually pea-sized to marble-sized, says Orville, but big thunderstorms can produce big hail. “Hail up to six inches in diameter has fallen in parts of the Midwest,” he says. “A hailstone the size of a baseball weighs about one-third of a pound, and since it can travel up to 90 miles an hour from its source cloud, it can create a lot of damage.
2. What areas are prone to hail storms?
Within the U.S. rural communities are the most susceptible to hail storms, due to the vast open land mass. Over the past few years though, changing weather patterns have contributed to some intense metropolitan hail showers in places like Dallas Texas, Denver Colorado, Minneapolis Minnesota, and Oklahoma City Oklahoma to name a few.
3. How should one prepare for hail storms?
The only sure way to prepare for hail storms is proactive awareness of when they occur, where they occur, and what assets might be affected or damaged by these storms. There are some companies that offer protective ‘air bags’ to protect vehicles during hails storms. However, I haven’t seen any for homes and businesses which typically endure tons of physical destruction and subsequent damages from hail storms. Here are a few tips on staying prepared in case of hail storm damage.
4. Do insurance policies cover hail damage?
Insurance carriers do cover hail damages for vehicles, homes, crop, and any pertinent item that can be covered. It is important that you go over your existing policy and check for the amount you are covered for and any limiting factors pertaining to hail damage.
In a recent blog by Larry Bache from the Merlin Law Group, Larry states that insures are trimming back hail damage coverage, and limiting homeowners coverage to exterior cosmetic restoration.
“Carriers are still obligated to investigate all hail claims and cannot deny a hail loss claim if the roofing system has been compromised in any way, even under this higher functionality standard. Nevertheless, I am seeing an increase in hail loss claims that are being denied based on this newer functionality standard despite the policy unambiguously providing coverage under the direct physical loss standard.” –Larry Bache -Merlin Law Group
5. Who should I contact if I have hail damage?
If you’ve experienced a hail storm and have significant damage on your property…Contact Pride Public Adjusters for FREE Claim Review or 1-800-515-5450