When all hail breaks loose, insurance can protect your property

Adam Kosloff

Hail causes about $1 billion worth of damage each year in the United States, according to the
Insurance Information Institute. Some golf-ball-size hail chunks can reach speeds of 120 miles per hour as they hurtle toward your home or car. Fortunately, the right insurance coverage can help pay for the damage.

Insurance coverage for hail damage

Standard home insurance policies cover hail damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In some high-risk areas, like the Gulf Coast, home insurance providers might exclude hail from their coverage. Residents from these areas will have to turn to their state's insurer of last resort. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, for example, provides wind and hail damage coverage to those who can't get it elsewhere.

When it comes to auto insurance protection from hail, you'll need comprehensive coverage, which covers weather damage. This type of coverage is optional -- you'll have to ask your insurer to add it, and you'll have to pay an additional premium. Some insurance companies may have special hail deductibles in high-risk areas, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That means you might have to pay more out of pocket to repair your car if it's hit by hail.

Most hail-prone areas

Hail is more common during the spring and summer months, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Certain states, particularly those just the east of the Rocky Mountains, are especially vulnerable to getting bombarded. States in the so-called "hail belt" include Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas.

According to hazard mapping website RiskMeter Online, the Top 10 hail-prone metro areas are:

1. Amarillo, Texas.
2. Wichita, Kan.
3. Tulsa, Okla.
4. Oklahoma City.
5. Midwest City, Okla.
6. Aurora, Colo.
7. Colorado Springs, Colo.
8. Kansas City, Kan.
9. Fort Worth, Texas.
10. Denver.

Damage prevention

While most hail stones are relatively small and harmless -- few grow to bigger than 2 centimeters in diameter -- some can grow to huge sizes. The biggest hailstone on record struck Coffeyville, Kan., in September 1970; it weighed nearly 2 pounds.

Even if you have insurance coverage, hail can cost you in the form of deductibles and in the form of time spent assessing damage and filling out paperwork. According to the Insurance Information Institute, ways to minimize the potential for damage before and after the storm include:

  • Installing hail-resistant roofing.
  • Keeping your curtains and blinds closed. If hail breaks your windows, drapes and blinds could be the only thing keeping the wind from blowing glass inside.
  • After the storm, cover any holes in the roof as well as broken home and car windows to prevent further water damage.
When the storm subsides, carefully catalogue any damage. Take pictures, if possible, and keep a written record of all your conversations and interactions with insurance agents, contractors or home remodelers during the claims process.

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