5 Easy Ways to Tell You Have Hail Damage
"Not all damage is storm damage if we're all being honest. To differentiate, you must identify and justify."
Hail comes in different shapes, sizes, speeds, and directions. Naturally, some hail events are more damaging than others. If you've ever sat inside during a hailstorm, you've probably heard what can be compared to thousands of baseballs bombarding the structure only to look outside and see marble-sized hail. Some think nothing of it if their cars aren't damaged; others rush to call their insurance carrier to send someone out. Here is a quick list of things you can check out just by walking the perimeter of your house. The items on this list will be things that can easily be spotted on the ground level. I would not advise inspecting your roof unless you have the proper safety equipment and are very comfortable walking up an inclined surface.
Disclaimer - Any observed damaged property should not be immediately classified as storm damage. Not all damage is storm damage, if we're all being honest. To differentiate, you must identify and justify. There are several things out in the world that can cause damage that will not be covered by your insurance policy if you file for wind or hail: kids, pets, lawn equipment, rocks, vehicles, etc.
Windows are a great thing to look at if you are looking for storm damage. They are one of the most appealing things about a house and should not be looked over if you are filing an insurance claim. Below, you will see a damaged glazing bead strip and a damaged aluminum window frame (left image). Both are constructed of a material that is generally susceptible to marble-sized hail. The glazing bead is a thin vinyl, and the window screen frame is aluminum. The screening of a window (right image) is tricky. Window screening is easily damaged by bushes, pets, and small rocks. Keep track of any damaged window screening as you continue your perimeter check. If you find more items that look like storm damage, your window screens were damaged by the same storm.
Window screen damage can easily be spotted from the inside of your home. If you see this, it is a good idea to do a perimeter walk around your property.
Gutters & Downspouts
Gutter damage is very informative and, a lot of the time, easy to spot. In the images below, you will see hail dents caused from the inside of the gutter pan. You can now tell which direction the hail was coming from. You'll want to inspect the opposite end of your property if you see this. Be sure to check your downspouts as well.
Easily spotted hail damage to gutters. Just look up, sometimes you'll need the right lighting to see it.
Chipped Siding or Paint
This next series of images tells multiple stories. (left image) you'll see indents in the 'field' of the wood lap siding caused by quarter-sized hail. (Center image) illustrates damage to the edge of a wood lap siding panel. You'll notice that the two have different profiles and are comprised of different materials and therefore were affected differently from the same size of hail (speed and quantity of hail will also play a role). Damage to vinyl siding (right image) is easy to spot, but the damage is not always definitive. If you see one damaged spot, look for others and in higher places. It's easier to prove it was storm damage if there are damaged panels in higher areas because it is less likely that your weed-eater or lawnmower caused the damage.
Different siding materials will be affected by hail differently. Look for multiple impacts to help build your case for storm damage.
This category will encompass items that are easily damaged and frequently overlooked. People often look for "bigger ticket" items to be damaged: shingles, cars, glass, etc. However, if you start seeing these items below, it will give you further reason to continue your investigation. Aluminum dryer vents (left image) are among the most common items to be damaged, even by pea-sized hail. The aluminum fins in your air conditioning unit (center image) are not often thought of because they usually have a mesh covering to protect them. If your garage doors or windows are wrapped in metal (right image), give them a close look. Damage to metal wraps can be easily missed if the sun shines directly on them. Be sure to look at your wraps from different angles. Once you see it, you won't miss it again.
Patio Covers & Carports
Not everyone will have a patio cover or carport, but it is an excellent item to cover. This damage will be apparent if you have a polycarbonate/vinyl patio cover (left & center images). If the hail were significant enough to damage your metal patio cover (right image) you’d likely have damage elsewhere. Again, just because it is damaged won't necessarily mean it is storm related. Other likely causes include animals, projectiles like baseballs or tree branches, foot traffic, etc. I have found that these get missed from time to time, so I felt it was essential to add them to this list.
Obvious damage to patio covers. Looked over from time to time because some people look straight when inspecting and forget to look up.
If you see enough of these things and they are of concern to you, please reach out to a licensed professional and speak with them about what to do next. You may find more damage from an otherwise uneventful storm than you initially thought. Being proactive in the care and maintenance of your property can save you a lot of money and may potentially prevent further damages from occurring.