Hail Storm Help for Your Business – How to Make Your Hail Claim Stick
With rain and hail pounding down on several North Texas counties this week, many business owners are wondering how to repair the inevitable damage to their roof, windows, and exterior walls, as well as how much those repairs will cost. With the Insurance Information Institute estimating that hail causes about $1 billion dollars in damage to crops and property each year, these policyholders will likely be facing a daunting recovery and insurance claims process.
Often following a hailstorm, business owners don’t realize that their property has suffered hail damage. With roofs – which are hard to see and inspect — sustaining the majority of damage in hailstorms, hail damage often goes unnoticed for months or even years until much later when the roof begins to leak.
“Hail is common during this time of year, however sometimes the damage is not immediately seen. It may take up to three years after a hailstorm for a roof to leak so many business owners may not even know that their property was damaged until it’s too late to file an insurance claim. That’s why it’s really important to inspect your property carefully after hail hits your area even if it looks like nothing was damaged.”
– Art Jansen, President of Jansen International
Although Jansen says that hailstorm damage can lead to a complicated insurance claim, he said that by taking a few important steps, business owners can improve their chances of recovering their repair costs.
- Contact your insurance company immediately — as the insured, you are responsible for filing your commercial insurance claim.
- Know what you are entitled to under your commercial insurance policy by requesting a full copy of your policy and asking your broker or agent how much hail coverage it contains.
- Keep track of, and notate, all communications between you and the insurance company as well as any receipts related to the loss.
- Get organized. Jansen advises business owners to document the damage through pictures and video clips. Also track down receipts for any recent repairs to damaged exterior features such as roofs, doors and windows, and note the age and description of the items purchased.
- Create an inventory of all items lost or damaged in the hail storms.
- Fill out a ‘proof of loss claim’ which will be provided by your insurance company or agent.
- Be sure to check everything that could have been dented or broken by the hail, including: security cameras, gutters, siding, HVAC units and landscaping (shrubs, flowers, plants, garden), outdoor equipment, roofing (shingles, skylights), stairs/steps, and windows.
- Consider hiring a public adjuster. A public adjuster can help you fully recover from the loss and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Public adjusters bring expertise and knowledge to what can otherwise be a lengthy and confusing process for those outside of the insurance industry.
“It is in the policyholder’s best interest to investigate their property for hail damage immediately following a hailstorm. Although it can be dangerous to examine a roof oneself, there are other ways to tell if your business has sustained damage. Check to see if trees or flowers on the property are broken or knocked over, if cars parked in the open are dented, or if any of the buildings’ windows are cracked. If these items show signs of hail damage, then your roof has probably also been damaged,” said Jansen.