If there was ever a roofing version of WebMD, this would be the most frequent question. Let’s get technical and break into why insurance pays for hail damage in the first place, even though your roof may not be leaking.
Hail storm hits your house. How bad is it? When do you fix the damage and how long do you have? It’s important to understand how a roof keeps your home dry because it’s not what you imagine. First layer of protection; shingles. A roofing shingle is made by coating a fiberglass sheet in asphalt and then applying aggregate or granules to the top side. With this simplified explanation of how shingles are made, certainly you understand, shingles are not inherently water proof. They shed water, but that’s not their sole purpose. They provide rigidity and protect the underlayment from extreme weather conditions. Beneath the shingle is the moisture barrier or felt/synthetic. This is the long-term water protection for your home.
So why is hail damage a problem? If my roof has underlayment, what’s the issue? Hail damage on a roof provides an entry point for water. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but when the granules are knocked of and the fiberglass backing is broken, these “hail hits” as they are called, wear holes in the shingle. After a hole is introduced, water will become trapped behind the shingle when it rains or snows. Now there is moisture trapped in your roof. Over time, this will damage and rot out the decking. Additional health and home risks like mold are possible.
Wait, didn’t we just mention a moisture barrier to keep water out? Why doesn’t that help? It does help, but you must remember, we have to put holes in that same barrier to attach shingles. It is not the perfect system, but it is a system that has been evolving and improving for thousands of years. Today, this is the best solution for durability/value currently. Upgrading to standing seam metal is a big financial leap for anyone and even then, can present its own issues.
The final question left, which is the deciding factor in filing a roof claim; How many hail hits does it take to total a roof? The answer ranges between insurance companies, but a general rule of thumb is 10 hits per square. One square is a 10x10 foot area on your roof. A roofer or adjuster will determine a totaled roof by identifying damage of 10 or more hits in that area. Your roofer or adjuster will need to find this damage on more than one face of the roof to determine a truly totaled roof.
When choosing a roofer, try to find someone who will speak in a “as a matter of fact” manner about your roof. They should also be willing to take photos and provide documentation to help validate your claim.