Preparing for Oklahoma’s Storm Season

It’s storm season. We know what that means. Oklahoma suffered more than 114,000 hail-related claims between 2010 and 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The 2013 tornadoes cost insurance companies more than any other state, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  Oklahoma was second only to Texas in tornado, thunderstorm and hail-related insurance payouts from 2000-2013.

The effect of the storms on insurance deductibles is a reality we all deal with, and factors into how we manage damage, so much so that the insurance industry is researching building material improvements. Until recently, many Oklahoma homeowners had $500 to $1000 dollar deductibles; now the norm is 1 or 2 percent of home value (or more), and some companies charge separate higher deductibles for wind and hail events. Higher deductibles don’t solve the problem. Repair costs increase annually; many carriers seek to cut their losses by limiting coverage. Review your coverage immediately. Don’t get caught with less coverage than you thought you had. Read your policy declaration page; if you don’t understand your coverage, contact your agent. Many insurance companies are changing their business practices; if yours is one of those, you want to be prepared ahead of any problems. Your claim history matters, so consult a professional before you file a claim to make sure the damage exceeds your deductible.

When to File a Claim?

Hail damage on cars is easy to see; roof damage is more difficult. How do you determine if you should file a claim? Many people call their insurance carrier for an inspection without knowing whether they actually have damage or not.  If you file a claim and get no money, it’s still a claim.

First, if you’re unsure, call a professional you know and trust.  If you don’t know someone, ask a friend who they trust or call your insurance agent.  Check references, check BBB and Angie’s List. Always make sure your contractor is insured.

Tips to Determine if Claim is Needed

Size, density and hardness of hail stones determine damage. Homes can withstand smaller hail many times without sustaining damage. Storms that occur early in the season are typical of this smaller hail. A heavy smaller stone can do damage, while a larger lighter stone might not. There are many variables to consider.

Large hail (tennis ball size or larger) can do severe damage. Immediate repairs will be needed if holes or punctures. Your insurance policy requires that you do your due diligence to protect your remaining property so you may need to make temporary emergency repairs. Do not make permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster has been out. Take pictures of the damage and keep any receipts you may incur. Also, call your insurance agent and notify them that you intend to make emergency temporary repairs to protect your remaining property. Emergency repairs will be paid back to you with no deductible removed.

Golf ball size hail can total a roof, but may also just damage the surface. This is an area of vulnerability for homeowners, so take your time getting bids from good quality companies. A surface hail-damaged roof doesn’t always require immediate replacement so you have time to get bids. Ping-pong size hail or smaller may do damage but can be only minor.

Do a visual inspection if possible. Look at:

Gutters – Aluminum gutters show dents. Gutter screens can mask damage. Dents are typically inside the gutter pushing outwards.

Window screens and frames – Check window screens on all sides of the house. Look for streaks going down the screen.  Also check the vinyl frames for chips or breaks.

Soft metals such as aluminum trim around windows, door frames, garage door – Large hail can and will damage the metal panels on your garage door.  Check bottom door panels for dents.

AC unit outside

Soft woods on exterior – Cedar is a soft wood and will splinter with large hail. It may only look like surface damage but if you see splintering it is a good sign of large hail.

Vehicles – If your car is damaged, it’s likely your roof is, too.

These helpful tips are provided by our friends at Nichtech Roofing, Oklahoma’s storm proof roofing specialists. Contact them at 918.283.2001 or 855.4OK.ROOF for help with all your roofing questions and needs.