Hail is formed when raindrops pass through currents of freezing air and turn into small blocks of ice. Hailstones can be as small as peas or as large as softballs, and the larger ones can cause injury and serious damage (Hail Facts, IBHS). The average hailstorm lasts only five minutes, but the damage totals about $1 billion a year, according to the National Weather Service.
Because hail can occur during strong thunderstorms, hailstorms may spring up during any season. But being prepared – and knowing what to do – can help you stay safe and keep damage to a minimum.
Before a hailstorm hits
To minimize hail damage to your home or business:
- Inspect your roof regularly for maintenance issues that could make it more susceptible to hail damage, including surface bubbles and areas that lack gravel cover.
- Although the average lifespan of a roof is 20 years, those who live in severe hail-prone areas may find it necessary to replace their roof every seven to 10 years.* Consider impact-resistant roofing material if you plan to build or replace the roof on your home or business. For guidance on making the right choices for roof coverings, visit the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety website.
- Be sure your roof-mounted equipment is protected by substantial covering to help reduce damage from hail.
- If thunderstorms are predicted, park your car in a garage or under a carport to help protect your car from hail.
Staying safe during a hailstorm
Stay tuned to weather reports to see if thunderstorms are predicted. If one is heading your way:
- Stay inside a building or seek shelter quickly if you are outside.
- If you are driving, pull over into a covered, safe place and wait for the storm to pass. If you cannot find cover, stop your car to minimize the impact of hail.
- Beware of seeking shelter under a tree because limbs can fall during severe storms.
After the storm has passed
Once the storm is over:
- Be on the lookout for downed trees or power lines and broken glass or sharp objects. Wear proper shoes and gloves when inspecting your property.
- If necessary, protect your property against further damage by using plywood or tarps to cover broken windows or holes in roofs. Keep receipts of all expenses.
- If you believe you have damage, make a list of potential repairs that you may need and call your agent or insurance company for help.