In 2020, the United States experienced 4,611 large hail storms, as documented by the NOAA Severe Weather Database.
One of the 2019 storm clusters was a beast of a hail storm in Colorado.
That storm dropped a record-setting 4.83-inch diameter hailstone in Bethune, Colorado.
Every year, multiple hail storms cause billions of dollars of property damage.
Many of these storms included baseball-sized hail or bigger.
What we'll discover in this article.
Is that even much smaller sized hail... can and does cause roof hail damage.
Many homeowners are not aware of hail damage on their roofs. Hail damage to roof tops often times cannot be seen from the ground, and that's a big reason why the idea of hail damage hardly ever crosses a homeowner's mind.
Today we will show you EXACTLY what to look for when inspecting a home for roof hail damage.
We're going to answer questions like...
- What are some signs that hail damage has occurred at a house (even before stepping foot on the roof)?
- What are some of the signs of hail damage on a roof?
- What does hail damage look like on shingles?
- What size hail causes roof damage?
You will also learn how to identify and mark out hail damage for insurance claims.
(View Roof Hail Damage Pictures)
As always... practice safety first.
Before inspecting a roof, make sure you have a good pair of soft-soled shoes or roofing boots. Always check that your ladder is in perfect working condition, and bring a few sticks of chalk to help mark any hail damage you might see.
And, of course, don't forget your camera.
If you are a homeowner...
You will also learn how to tell if you have hail damage on your roof and what to do.
Homeowners: Inspecting a roof can be dangerous. It's very important that you have all of the proper safety gear and knowledge. Many contractors offer a free roof inspection, so please don't hesitate to contact a professional before jumping up on your own roof.
First - What is Hail and How Does it Form?
Hail is a type of precipitation that occurs when air updrafts (upward air currents) in thunderstorms carry raindrops into the upper level clouds where temperatures are below freezing. A small particle of ice forms around some type of nucleus. It could be a tiny ice crystal, spec of dust, frozen raindrop or something else.
The frozen ice particle then drops within the cloud back below freezing temperatures, where it picks up more moisture from rain drops and water vapor. Eventually it gets caught in another updraft and freezes again.
The stronger the updrafts, the longer a hailstone circulates up and down... growing larger and larger until gravity no longer allows it to remain lofted.
At that point, the hail falls toward the ground, where it can inflict damage on people or property.
Tell-Tale Signs Of Hail Damage on a Roof
Although you cannot fully determine the amount of hail damage on a roof from the ground, there are some signs that a trained eye can point out and help determine if there may be more damage up top.
The presence of one or more of these may indicate a situation where the homeowner needs a full roof replacement instead of a simple roof repair. Here are a few things to look for.
ONE - look for dented gutters, gutter screens, or downspouts
This is not always the case, but many times, if a roof has significant hail damage up top, the gutters will have some impact damage. This above picture shows a heavily dented gutter, but be on lookout for small impacts as well.
TWO - look for damage to siding and windowsills/casings
You can also check the home's siding and windowsills/casings for dents, dings or other signs of impact. These are places where, if there's significant damage to the roof, there will most likely be damage to these things as well.
Look also at any other exposed metal surfaces, like metal fascia on the roof eaves for signs of hail damage impact, even if it looks like a faint ding.
THREE - look for damage to air conditioners or other outdoor items
As we've discussed, it's important to check every area of the home for hail damage. We've done the roof, gutters and siding, but there's another area to check... the air conditioner.
In addition to offering a quick glance sign of further hail damage on the roof, a damaged air conditioner may qualify for insurance replacement.
As an inspector, it's your job to make sure you make note of everything that was damaged on the homeowners property. This could be a shed, patio cover, porch, decking, anything that the insurance may cover.
FOUR - look for damage to decks or painted wood surfaces
Decks and other painted surfaces surrounding the home may have sustained hail damage. If you see chipped paint, it may be the result of hail impact. For more tell-tale signs of hail damage, check out this big checklist of items that point to roof hail damage.
Now... Let's get on the roof.
Hail Damage To Roof Vents And Shingles
Once you're up on the roof, there's going to be a few things to look for. Vents, chimneys, sky lights, other features and shingles are on our inspection list.
Hail damage often accompanies wind damage to roofing systems, so you'll want to look for both.
Check out all the roof vents and features to look for any damage. Look for dents, dings, chipped surfaces, etc.
For the harder to see impact areas like the chimney covers (below), run your chalk sideways over the surface and it will uncover the hail impact points. For the softer metal vents, the damage will be much more obvious.
The last, but most important thing to check is the shingles. Hail damage to roof shingles are what buys the roof. You'll never get a solid insurance claim without shingle damage.
What does hail damage look like on shingles?
Hail damage to roof shingles can be very obvious or very difficult to uncover. It takes a trained eye to spot hail damage to roof shingles.
As you can see on the first image below, the surface granules have been knocked off of the shingle very clearly.
The rest of the pictures make it much harder to notice that the shingle has sustained hail damage.
View more pictures of roof hail damage
What's the big deal if a few granules come loose?? There's not a hole in the roof!
You may be surprised at the force it takes knock the surface materials off of a shingle. When this is discovered, the integrity of the shingle has been compromised, and a water leak can develop over time. Even the smallest hail impact on a shingle can lead to a roof leak.
Now it's your job to determine if there's enough information here to make an insurance claim. Most insurance companies want to see 8+ hits on the roof within a 10ft x 10ft square on at least 3 sides of the roof.
Mark each hit with chalk so you can accurately determine if there is enough damage to have the homeowner make a claim.
Take pictures of the hail hits to show the homeowner whenever you're done inspecting the roof. You can also show these pictures to the insurance adjuster whenever they come out for their inspection of the roof.
Now, you should have enough information to determine whether or not the home owner will need a roof replacement.
Metal Roof Hail Damage
Shingles can be tricky when it comes to spotting hail damage, but they're not the only type of roof out there. You have others like wooden shake, clay, slate and metal roofing.
Wood shingles will split right down the middle after being struck by hail. Clay & slate roofing will have cracks and/or gouges, and metal roofing will have impact dents like we saw on the gutters at the beginning.
Metal roofing is one of the easiest to spot for hail damage.
Here are some examples of hail damage on a metal roof.
See all hail damage pictures here.
What About Hail Spatter
Hail spatter - sometimes called hail splatter - results when "slushy" type hail leaves discolored marks or stains on your roof or appliances like AC units.
Spatter is evidence of hail on the property and it can be used to determine the size and direction of the hail, but the spatter marks themselves usually do not result in claimable damage.
What size hail causes roof damage?
On average, it takes a 1" or above diameter hail stone to cause damage to common asphalt shingles. When referring to hail sizes, here are a few common objects to compare:
- Pea = 1/4-inch in diameter
- Marble = 1/2-inch in diameter
- Dime or penny = 3/4-inch in diameter (hail the size of a penny or larger is considered severe)
- Nickel = 7/8-inch
- Quarter = 1 inch
- Golf Ball = 1½ inches
- Tennis Ball = 2½ inches
- Baseball = 2¾ inches
- Tea cup = 3 inches
- Softball = 4 inches
Several surveys and studies have been completed to show to damage potential of different size hail stones on various types of common roofing materials. Field observations and ice stone impact tests provide some common correlation between stone size and damage potential.
|3-Tab organic asphalt shingles||1"|
|3-Tab fiberglass asphalt shingles||1¼"|
|Flat concrete tiles||1¼"|
|Heavy cedar shakes||1½"|
|30-year laminated shingles||1½"|
|Built-up gravel roofing||2"|
|S-shaped concrete tiles||2"|
What does hail damage do to a roof?
The severity of hail damage to a roof depends on several factors, including:
Type of roofing materials, age of roofing materials, roof slope, quality of construction...
...as well as hail size, hail density, and hail shape and the velocity and angle of its fall.
Hail damage can also be affected by the number of shingle layers on a roof. Second layer shingles are more susceptible to damage than first layer shingles, because the surface directly underlying the shingle is less supportive than dense wood.
Hail damage can either be 'functional' or 'cosmetic' in nature.
Functional hail damage refers to damage that affects the integrity and longevity of the roof. Cosmetic hail damage refers to damage that does not affect the viability of the roof to perform its function.
In 2013, the American Association of Insurance Services, introduced a "Cosmetic Damage Exclusion" to allow insurers to avoid coverage for cosmetic damage. However, sometimes, a roof that has been functionally damaged will be passed off as only cosmetically damaged by the insurance company.
A qualified, trained roof inspector will know the difference and can assist the homeowner to make sure the insurance designation is properly assigned.
INTERESTING FACT: Baseball size hail stones fall at nearly 100 miles per hour.
Wood shake, clay, concrete and other dense roofing material types can be instantly cracked or shattered by large hail stones.
Hail damage to asphalt shingles may consist of punctures, tears, fractures (bruises) or the more common displacement of granules.
Displacement of granules occurs when granules have been knocked off by the impact of hail stones hitting the roof. The loss of protective granules exposes underlying asphalt to damaging sun rays.
When asphalt is directly exposed to the sun, without a protective layer of granules, the shingle becomes vulnerable to UV light degradation.
Which can accelerate cracking, blistering, algae formation, edge damage, and water leaks.
What do I do If I think I have hail damage?
If you're a homeowner and think you may have hail damage, the first thing you should do is call a professional contractor for a free roof inspection.
If the inspector thinks you may have damage, your next step would be to file an insurance claim with your homeowners insurance company. Your insurance adjuster will put together an Xactimate estimate.
A lot of people ask: "Will insurance pay for a new roof?" This depends on your policy and who you have on your team. A trained professional can determine whether the damage is functional or cosmetic in nature. A public adjuster can help you negotiate a fair deal with the adjuster.
Homeowners: It's very important that you have your contractor come out and inspect the roof with your insurance adjuster. You have to remember the insurance company is looking for reasons NOT to replace your roof. That's why it's important to make sure your contractor inspects the roof with the adjuster.
Hail damage inspections are vital skills for professionals working in roofing sales and project management. Equipped with the right information and resources, you'll have a trained eye to spot hail damage for homeowners and commercial companies and help them get fair coverage for the losses they've sustained.
Make sure to ask the homeowner if they have been experiencing any leaks in the home that could have resulted from the hail damage to roof shingles. Our job is to assist the homeowner to get full and fair settlement for all parts of the home that have sustained damage as a result of hail or wind.
Now it's Your Turn
I'd like to hear what you have to say:
Maybe you have a hail damage story you'd like to share.
Or maybe you have some additional tips to help our readers.
Or maybe you have a question.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
My question is about a formula Amica used to determined the amount of hail damage in order to replace the roof, the Adjuster wrote to me saying in his letter the roof replacement is determined by the amount of damage on each slope and there was one minor hail strike damage found on the front slope, so the replacement roof needs at least 8 hail strikes to any 100 square foot test area, based on that report we closed our claim at this time. are they right with his option.
Every insurance company has different scales for amount of damage needed per slope per square. Usually if 75% of the roof has the damage – replacement vs. repair wins. I would take pics of every slope and the amount of hits in a square per slope and send the insurance company an estimate for replacing the entire roof if the damage is on 3 out of 4 sides.
Rocky Mountain Roofing Company llc out of Cumming Georgia. We would like to comment on this article. They are right when they say Insurance companies are looking for reasons to deny your claim. They are not on your side. I will not mention names bit a Insurance company that starts with the letters Al is known throughout the industry by all roofers at being the worst to cover a roof. So please homeowners make sure you have a representative from a reputable roofing company on site representing you when the insurance inspector comes to look at your roof. I say this because most homeowners have no idea about storm damage and they just take the insurance inspectors word for it. You can always ask for a second inspection from a insurance company and if you are denied a claim I would recommend it. The reason being some of these inspectors have no idea what they are looking for. I know this because I am a certified CAT adjuster and own a roofing company and get over 95% of my roofs covered when I think there is enough damage for a insurance claim.
I am a retired State Farm agent and have been on many roofs. When a little hail falls, people get “hailitis”! I personally know that several roofs paid for from a hailstorm May 8, 1985 were not replaced for 10 years!! They were handled by “storm trooper” adjusters. One reason our insurance rates go up is too many roofs are replaced that absolutely do not have hail damage. I personally feel depreciation should be mandatory on roofs.
To be honest I have a problem with insurance companies who take premiums for years then a claim is submitted and the company acts in bad faith denying a real claim.
Not when you have an endorsement for full replacement regardless of age.
It doesn’t matter if a roofer is present or not for the inspection. If the damage supports replacement most claim reps are going to find a way to replace. We don’t have time to inspect a second time. Roofers are there to get the business in the event the roof is bought. Not saying that there aren’t claim reps out there that don’t know what hail damage is but in my experience inspecting with roof sales people most have no where near the damage recognition skills that a seasoned claim rep has. The part about claim reps wanting to deny claims is horsecrap. We would rather write an estimate to replace than a denial letter.
This is a little inaccurate.
99% of Insured do not know the fine print of their policy because their insurance agent didn’t specify the details or the Insured didn’t fully read their policy. Unfortunately insurance policies are written in lawyer-language and is hard for the insured to fully understand their coverage.
Independent adjusters (IA) actually WANT to find as much damage to your home because it effects their pay schedule. The more legitimate damage they find, the more they make from the firm that hired them. BUT also note that they cannot write false claims as it will it affect the amount of work they are assigned to them by the insurance company/firm. Also to note that the IA does not decide how much coverage you receive, that’s up to the insurance firm/company that the IA sends their inspection report to. So don’t shoot the guys that show up to your house, they are just their to document as much information as possible.
The insured should have a reputable contractor present during the insurance companies inspection. Having two sets of eyes is always better for the insured in case something gets overlooked.
I highly suggest getting at least 3 contractor quotes for the home, because they are the ones that are going to be trying to sell the Insured a new roof.
Now with Public Adjusters (their job is almost immoral) will almost always write for damage/repairs in their scope estimate that isn’t covered by the insured’s policy specifically to cover the costs and fees of having a PA involved.
The reason why most insurance policies are so expensive is because the PA and Contractors want to write up repairs that are not justified to give themselves extra work/$$.
It really hurts the integrity of this business and in the long run, it truly hurts the insured. These insurance policies are only going to increase the more fraudulent claims are out there.
Here’s a trap deserving a warning to readers: at least one insurer (mine – Andover/Merrimack Mutual) applies stringent criteria, denies the claim, then turns around and threatens nonrenewal if the homeowner fails to replace the roof at his own expense!
From the inspector’s photos and your presentation here, I can’t really tell whether the claim was properly denied. Storm-chaser salesman swore to me they could get coverage, but I didn’t trust them. I have no dents in metal, but lots of black depressions. I had hired a public adjuster, but I discovered that he accepted the insurer’s more stringent criteria, including actual tear-thru of shingles.
I’d love to review this claim and see the damage photos.
Many times companies will say you must replace a roof at your own expense if there is hail damage, but the storm was before the 2 year deadline. In that situation a homeowner is liable to replace their roof, once there is deemed damage from a prior storm or previous home owner. However, if they did not find any damage or give you any reason the Roof needed to be replaced (i.e. curling shingles, exposed nails, or other age/install issues.) the Insurance company cannot say the home has no damage because it does not meet their criteria and say you need to pa for your Roof based off a less sticky criteria.
Justin, great article and website! Thanks for sharing. If you don’t mind I’d like to share this with my clients and prospective new hires?
Keep up the good work!
Lucky for us we don’t have to worry too much about hail damage out here in AZ. I’ve got some roofer buddies in other states though and they say it can get pretty crazy a few times per year.
Roof Restoration is the complete make-over of the roof with the help of experts that can redesign it the way you want it. Roofers work in accordance to the expenses made by the client.
On my customers shake roof an adjuster found damage fro 97 shakes on the left elevation, 91 shakes on the front elevation, 41 on the right elevation and 67 on the rear. I’m trying to ask for a full roof replacement saying that it will almost be impossible to know which of the 296 shakes I replace are the same ones the adjuster found. If the customer has a leak they may say we didn’t replace the same 296 shakes they found damaged. How many shakes need to be damaged before the insurance should pay for the whole roof. The roof is about 20yrs old and the new shakes will stand out; especially 296 of them scattered throughout the roof.
We had hail damage the size of an egg. Damage to metal roof, gutter helmet, shingles, air conditioner, awning, down spouts. Adjuster said the metal roof wasn’t covered, it cosmetic. He said no damage to shingles and never addressed any of the other damage. We had a roofer come and take a look. He said we absolutely had damage and gave his estimate. He met with the adjuster and the adjuster still said he wasn’t going to pay for the roof because the hail had to go all the way through the singles to be covered. Really? Now the adjuster is talking about having an engineer take a look. We had another roofer look at the roof who also says we have damage. He is going to chalk all damage, take pics and talk to the insurance company about it. This is ridiculous. Needless to say we are very stressed about this and want our roof taken care of! The insurance company is American West out of North Dakota.
Buyers agent referred the inspector. Inspector noted spot repair as necessary but he added he highly suspects Roof will be insurable. Buyers agent says they are sending out someone to look. (Their highly recommended roofer) they also say he will be writing report FOR insurance company. He also attached a bid to replace the roof and buyers agent said he could have it done in two days. Sellers want an independent report from insurance company. Buyers agent referred buyer to insurance company. Insurance sends “their guy”. A couple of the photos they send when they deny coverage without a new roof are identical to roofers photos. Does an insurance company have to send a licensed adjuster to do the inspection? Social media photos show Inspector, roofer, insurance agents all together sponsoring events for realtors that work in the same office as inspectors wife. How many red flags does this send up?
This is a great article. Very nicely done and the pictures are helpful. Have you considered doing an infographic? We are working on one right now and this article was surely helpful to our research and developing a plan on how to explain what we know in layman’s terms.
We are on the east coast, but we work with a lot of roofers, especially when hail damage happens. It can get really bad here when hurricane season comes in as well.
Four months following a hail storm in my city on 5/17/2017, The roofing contractor indicated that my roof has sufficient hail damage and we filed a claim. My insurance, following the first inspection claimed there is only damage on skylight, and slight damage on metal vents. The insurance refused replacement. Following my request for second inspection, a forensic engineer inspected the roof and claimed the loss of granular and scuffing are not consistent with the size, shape or characteristic of the damage due to hail. He claims the hail was of the size of 5/8″ and the lab results indicate the hail size less than 1″ will not cause damage to the type of shingles I have. I was wondering how scientific and reliable the lab testing is and if a one inch hail should create a one inch indentation. Do I have a recourse with my insurance after the second inspection?
You always have recourse against your insurance company via a state insurance department complaint. Now is that complaint valid? I can’t say. What I can say is that if the insurance company has a third party engineer saying there’s no hail damage, you will need to hire your own engineer and hope he says otherwise. Your ins co has shown that they will do their due diligence in investigating your claim by hiring a third party vendor so it’ll be very hard for you to get them to reverse coverage decisions just because you disagree with it.
First I want to apologize it sounds like you have been through hell. No pun intended. To answer your question you do have recourse- you can hire a public adjuster to help you with your claim and hopefully help you get paid. You can also hire an attorney to fight your insurance company. My question for the engineer would have been how he knew the hail was only 5/8in in diameter. Surely he wasn’t using a hail map. My next question is whether they admitted to the fact that you had damage on the roof. The term cosmetic damage in my opinion was a bit of legalese that the insurance co. Lobbied for so they are allowed to deny claims. Does your policy include definitions of both? And can the insurance company provide you with examples of each? I hope this helps.
Hail Damage is usually bad news. Having a hail damage-resistant roof can help protect you and your family from emergencies. People need to have all the information they need to know why having insurance for your home is important.
Texas does not require roofers to be licensed by State. Roof must be able to be insured by party buying the home, not current owner of home. When a storm hits in W. Texas, the roofers swarm in, and later when you have an issue with the work, they are long gone on to the next storm. FYI
No matter where you live, inclement weather can strike at any time, sometimes unexpectedly. While you might think of wind as being the worst type of weather for roofing, hail can cause even worse damage. If you live in areas that have rough winters,often with occasional hailstorms, have you inspected your roof lately after experiencing recent hail? No matter if the hail pellets are small, the damage can become excessive. However, some damage can become hidden for a while until you start noticing leaks in your home.
Thanks for sharing this information. I have learnt alot and so will all the people from California. Commercial roofing in Escondido will be effective once all the clients know what hail damage repair entails.
Great Article! Just a couple warnings for homeowners. If the insurance company approves a roof replacement, make sure you use the claim money for your roof. I was working a wind/ storm in Del Rio Texas in early 2016 and came across a home that was missing 20% of the roof decking and over 30% of its shingles. This should have been an easy claim. Shingles were 10-15 years old. Every other roof we inspected in the city was being replaced by insurance companies. It turned out there was a hail storm there about 5 years earlier and insurance company had paid for a new roof with 0% withheld as recoverable depreciation (over $20,000) the owner apparently didn’t think he needed a new roof and spent the money elsewhere. The estimate written by the insurance adjuster after this storm just for the roof damage was almost $35,000, total interior and exterior damage over $100,000. Entire claim was denied because home owner did not replace the roof the last time they paid. They cancelled his policy and he was uninsurable. I am not sure where the story goes from there but I assume unless he had an extra $100,000 sitting around to repair everything, he was unable to repair and re-insure and the mortgage company likely foreclosed due to breach of contract.
2nd warning-if you live in hail country, make sure your policy doesn’t exclude hail. This is something sneaky that you may not be aware of that insurance sales agents will due to get you a better rate on insurance and saving a few dollars a year may cost you thousands or tens of thousands if you have a problem.
3rd, make sure you keep replacement cost policy in place after your mortgage is paid off. you can go to an actual cash value policy and save money but they will depreciate everything to a point that even if the claim is approved you’ll never have the money to repair or replace.
Hire someone who is not only licensed and insured, but understands insurance claims process and can walk you through it and explain the reports the insurance company sends you. If a contractor is telling you they can “waive” your deductible is lying to you, or they clearly doesn’t understand the way the claim works, or they are willing to commit fraud and implicate you in conspiracy to commit fraud to save you a few bucks. Any approved amount that is not used will be deducted from your final check. they will have already deducted your deductible from the first check.
I had baseball size hail damage qualifying as defined in this story, but USAA has a “Cosmetic Hail Damage Waiver” required to get the hail resistant roof discount. They originally denied coverage, stating the damage needs to ‘penetrate the whole shingle’. I discussed this with them for a long time, and they ended up covering it. Watch out, their coverage denies much more than just “cosmetic” damage.
This a very good article. It’s so important to inspect your roof immediately after the hail storm, rather than waiting until your roof starts leaking to take action. This is helpful and educating for homeowners for spotting roof hail storm damage. Thanks for sharing and keep posting!
I have called State Farm every year for about 10 years because of hail damage – I have granuals, black sludge, and pieces of shingle in my gutters and downspouts. Every one around me got a new roof more than 5 years ago. State Farm has only told me I need a new ridge cap (I do). I now have a roof at the end of its life. What can I do?
Lori, we’re sorry to hear that. Your best approach would be to get a roof inspection completed by a quality roofing company that can help document the damage you have and can meet with the adjuster. Feel free to give our office a call or fill out the roof inspection form on our website, and we can put you in touch with someone.
Thank you for sharing this helpful article. Hail storms and strong winds can truly damage the roof. It always good to check the roof every after occurrence to make sure that nothing is damaged and repair can be done immediately if there are any problems.
Good Article. I agree with everything up until the part about having a contractor inspect first. Most contractors are not impartial and will tell homeowners they need roof replaced when they do not as they are in this to make money. Also most roofers are not trained to inspect hail damage, they are trained to remove and replace shingles. Before having a contractor do an inspection, ask what their training is, are they HAAG certified? Not that certification guarantees they won’t be biased. There is a handfull of roofers i have dealt with that will tell it like it is, but most will claim even cracks or cupping are from hail. I am an insurance adjuster in Canada and we do not try to deny coverage, we will go out of our way to try find damage. Insurance adjusters and IAs get paid the same whether claim is denied or not.
Kris, you make some good points. It is important to deal with a professional roofing company that knows their stuff and will provide an honest evaluation without trying to sell the homeowner something they don’t need.
Kris you are right, there are contractors who will take advantage of homeowners. Check out the contractor through your Better Business Bureau.
The weather over the past few weeks has been pretty rough, and I think that my roof was damaged by the hail. Your advice about calling a professional roofing contractor for a free inspection seems like a good place to start. They can assess the damage and let me know what my options are for repairs. I will call around to see if there are contractors in my area who offer free assessments.