After a hailstorm, you may feel grateful that your business managed to escape with minor damage. A few pockmarks, a few downed tree branches, but your building is still standing and will live to fight another day. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that even a small amount of hail damage can have long-lasting and costly effects. Attorney Bill Voss offers these tips for Texas business owners to understand the full impact of hail damage and to take steps to prevent it before the next storm hits.
It May Take Some Time for Hail Damage to Ruin Your Roof
It’s understandable that business owners would rather put off making an insurance claim if they can avoid it. Too many claims on your policy can cause your premiums to rise, and you don’t want to be accused of making unnecessary repairs. Although pockmarked shingles might not seem like claim-worthy damage, the effects of “superficial” damage can range from minor leaks to the total loss of the structure.
Here is a timeline of how hail damage can progress if it is not corrected quickly:
- After the storm. The shingles that have been struck by hail stones may have noticeable dents, and granules from the shingles may fill the gutters. This exposes the asphalt layer underneath to the weather, and typically loosens the bond between the asphalt layer and remaining granules.
- A few weeks later. Each day, ultraviolet light from the sun shines down on exposed portions of the shingles, weakening the asphalt layer and making the shingles brittle. Temperature changes cause the shingle to expand and contract, further compromising damaged areas.
- Months later. Winter approaches. The damaged shingles may crack in colder weather, causing tiny holes where water can leak down into the roof. Shingles that have lost many granules may curl at the edges, making them more susceptible to being torn off in high winds.
- Years later. As granules continue to flake off, shingles become less and less effective at preventing leaks. Water may seep into attics, storage areas, or into utility closets, causing electrical problems and inventory losses. If leaks are not immediately corrected, the surrounding wood may rot or succumb to mold, forcing closures while the damaged areas are torn out and rebuilt.
Insurers will often deny claims for hail damage that could have been avoided if the business owner had corrected the problem immediately after the storm. This makes sense from the insurer’s perspective, as the provider would rather pay for a small amount of damage immediately rather than rebuild the entire structure later. Policyholders have a small window of time to collect fair payment for weather-related claims, and if claims are not filed quickly, a business owner can lose the right to compensation.
Ways to Mitigate the Impact of Hail Before the Next Storm
While it is urgent to repair hail damage as soon as possible, it is even better to prevent this kind of damage from happening in the first place. Property owners can take a number of actions to strengthen their buildings from the next hail storm, including:
- Choosing the right building materials. There are many different types of shingles and roof coverings, and some are better suited to resisting or absorbing the impact of hail stones. Selecting tougher roofing materials may cost more up front, but can lower the cost to insure the structure and save money in the long run.
- Selecting weather barriers. Wind is the driving force behind hailstones, and careful positioning of the structures around your building can create natural barriers. Trees, fences, adjacent buildings, and high walls can all act as breakers to defend your roof from damage.
- Performing regular inspections. Insurers often attempt to deny claims after storms by stating that the roof was in disrepair before the adverse weather event took place. By performing an inspection of the structure every few years, policyholders can have documentation that the shingles, flashing, and underlying structures are in good condition before a storm hits.
If your commercial insurance provider is refusing to pay for a damaged roof, our skilled commercial insurance attorneys can help you collect the full limits of your policy. Fill out the form on this page today to contact the Voss Law Firm, or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.