Weather Center

Prepare for Surprise Hailstorms

By Peter Simek 3.1.18

Despite advances in computer modeling, satellite imagery, and radar tracking, it is still incredibly difficult to predict major hail events. In fact, weather forecasters rely on simple observation to determine whether thunderstorms are carrying dangerous and devastating hail.

The University of Oklahoma has employed a supercomputer that’s making progress in crunching all the complicated models and data to predict when thunderstorms will produce golf ball- or softball-size hail. But at the end of the day, as anyone living in West Texas or Texas’ northern plains knows all too well, sudden hail events are just a fact of life.

How to Stay Aware: Area and Weather Forecasts

Shannon Miller, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent in Abilene, says hail damage is perhaps the most common homeowners policy claim her office sees. Miller estimates that around one out of every five or six new policyholders will have had some history of hail-related insurance claims, particularly in West and Central Texas. The toughest part is that most often, there isn’t enough time to prepare for a hail-bearing storm.

“Unlike in a coastal region, you won’t see homeowners around here boarding up windows [before a storm],” she says. What you may see, she adds, is drivers without access to a garage or carport parking at gas stations, bank drive-throughs, or covered parking garages to wait out the storm.

Your property may have to fend for itself — but making sure you are aware of your local weather forecasts, especially if you are in a hail-prone area, can keep you safe if you’re planning on driving or walking somewhere.

How to Prepare: Materials and Maintenance

Even if you can’t prepare for the weather event, you can make sure your property can withstand Texas’ capricious hailstorms.

For homeowners, the part of the house most susceptible to hail damage is your roof. Miller says it is a good idea to complete a routine inspection to assess any weathering or damage after a hailstorm. Brick homes and homes with metal roofs typically stand up to hail, but owners of frame homes with vinyl siding will have to take extra care to protect against hail damage.

Miller says the best way to protect your siding is to be vigilant about regular maintenance. Any paint cracks or weathering should be repaired quickly so those little dings aren’t worsened by a bombardment of hail.

How to Repair: Inspections and Insurance

If your home or car does have hail damage, Miller says immediately filing a claim may not always be the best option.

“I typically refer my clients to look at their deductibles and then get some estimates first,” she says. “Measure that up against what your deductible is. Sometimes clients have a $1,000 [comprehensive coverage deductible] and their hail damage is only $500.”

The insurance industry is also changing the way it pays out for roof damage claims, moving toward assessing roof damage based on actual cash value, or the depreciated value of a roof.

Miller says it is important that homeowners know the condition and age of their roof so they can be properly compensated if or when hail strikes next.

When that will be, who can say? In Texas, damaging hailstorms are most common in the spring rainy season. But Texas’ weather is famously fickle, and it is not always possible to prepare for every single event.

“Just be mindful of the weather and try to plan ahead,” Miller advises. “Sometimes you aren’t able to do that; sometimes it is unexpected. But that is why we have insurance.”

Make sure you are prepared for severe weather and talk to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent about finding the right coverage for your home.

Coverage and discounts are subject to policy terms and qualifications and may vary by situation.

© 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance